Not all families like to do road trips. I get that. Road trips are hard to plan for and even harder to execute. They force people who may not always get along well into close proximity with one another. They are tiring, potentially expensive, and often tedious. But they are also a great way to take advantage of family togetherness, and to learn things that cannot be learned from taking an airplane to your destination.
Here are a few reasons why you should consider a road trip with your family:
- Time together. Lots of time! Time to talk, to sing, to read together, to listen to audio books, to notice the landscape, to draw, to do sticker books, to talk some more, to look for license plates from other states (we found 45! including Hawaii and Alaska! and to my friend Emma, the children want you to know that we found Rhode Island!), to share what we appreciate about each other, to resolve conflict. The car shrinks your world down to a manageable size, taking you away from the routine, the responsibility, and the “clutter” of home, so that what is left are the people most important to you. What an incredible gift!
- Time away. As already mentioned, road trips take much more time than flying. So you have a great opportunity to decompress from the stress of everyday life and just breathe. I was particularly thankful for that this time. I didn’t even realize how tired my brain and ears were from the responsibility and noise of extra children this year, until I had been away from that responsibility for about ten days. It took that long for me to feel somewhat normal, and not like I was constantly supposed to be doing something. Again, such a gift!
- Time to see the country. Up close and personal. We learned that each state defies a one word description. Arizona is not just “hot.” It has mountains! And rain! And temps in the 40’s! Colorado is not all “rocky mountains.” It is also flat and brown and kindof boring. Kansas is not just “flat.” It is also hilly, green, and has rocky ridges. Just as people are not all one thing, states are not all one thing either. And each state has a unique flavor that can be noticed along their highways. Billboards, rest stops, grocery stores, and the people in them all display the subtle (or not so subtle) differences among states.
- The opportunity to understand commerce better. The goods we buy have to be produced or grown somewhere. We spent time in the rich fruit growing San Joaquin Valley of California. Chances are high that if you buy fruit grown in the U.S., it was grown there. We drove through Kansas, the Sunflower State, and bought sunflower seeds to munch on in the car. We saw mineral mining equipment in the Mojave Desert. We also saw how goods are transported from where they are grown/produced to where they are sold. Long, long trains clacking along beside the highway. Semi truck after semi truck. It takes time, fuel, and money to move goods. Our country is really big! Seeing this gave us a fresh appreciation for all that goes on behind the scenes in our daily life.
- The opportunity to interact with lots of different people, and to reflect on how big God is. Each person has their own story, and their own circle of influence, and their own loved ones. And God is big enough to know and love each one intimately, to understand the depths of their pain and the heights of their joy. He is enough.
One of my aunts ~ I love this lady!
My sweet "cousin in law" with her beautiful. daughters!
Me with my two CA cousins!
Uncle C, showing his homemade bullets and gun powder
Cousin time ~ playing hearts
Cousin time ~ playing Blokus
My dad with his three sons in law!
My mom with her three daughters!
- The chance to see new and unfamiliar sights. My first glimpse of Grand Canyon actually scared my family a little bit. They thought I was hyperventilating! It is just that vast and spectacular. Almost overwhelmed my senses. Pictures cannot adequately represent it, so I was just not prepared for how incredible it was in person. We also visited the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest while in Arizona. Actually went through those on the way to Grand Canyon. The beauty there was like a warm up! We don’t have anything remotely similar where we live, so it was all new and amazing terrain for us. Grand Canyon made us all reflect on the awesome power of God ~ that the geologic forces capable of creating such a canyon obey and answer to HIM…Wow! What a God!