Remember when you were a kid and your parents made you take long road trips? Remember the good old days when you could make a bed in the back of your station wagon with a bunch of sleeping bags? Remember when you could stretch out for hours on end and watch the clouds float by as your dad got bleary-eyed just watching the lines on the road?
All’s bliss on the road trip, right?
Um. Remember drawing an imaginary line down the middle of the back seat and just daring, with only the look in your eyes, your sister to cross it? Remember screaming, “Mom! She’s on my side!” a thousand times? Remember pushing your parents to their ever-loving limit by asking, “When will we be there?” in your whiniest voice ever?
Ah yes, there’s nothing like travel to bring a family closer.
You’re probably thinking I’m crazy with this one, but I have to say that some of our happiest family memories are of trips we’ve taken together.
Oh sure, there have been some of those moments. Moments when we parents sitting up front have wanted to just scream bloody murder—or maybe we actually have. Moments when travelling through the Bad Lands when we wanted to open a car door and just heave one or two kids out. Moments so silent that the seething rage permeating the inside of our car could be cut with a knife.
But, honestly, those moments are far outweighed by the fantastic times we’ve had that we now reflect on so happily. The good times definitely overshadow the not-so-good when we travel.
When I was younger, my family didn’t travel much, probably because both money and time were tight. My dad was a farmer, so he was pretty much bound to the farm during the spring, summer, and fall months. In the winter we were in school, so it was hard to get away. My husband’s job is a little more flexible, thought, and over the years we’ve found that we both love to travel. And our kids do too.
Here are just a couple of things we’ve done to foster a close family bond through travel.
We travel with a purpose. We have taken our family on two short-term missions trips—one to Brazil and one to Switzerland. Both trips have shown our girls that there is a big world out there and God is supremely engaged in all of it—not just our little corner of it. I really hope we will have more opportunities like this.
We travel for fun. Seeing Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons was a total blast a few years back. Disney World was great . . . once. And we have created lasting family memories at Kiawah Island, SC (we’ve been there six times). All of these trips, and others, have helped us grow closer together as a family.
We travel with one child at a time. When older two were about 14 years old, B took each one on a business trip with him alone. Kate got to go to Florida where she got the worst farmer’s tan of her life and learned the joys of room service. Caroline got to go to Arizona which they then made into a fun trip to see Grandma and Grandpa (after the business part) and during which B got really sick and spent the entire time at my parent’s house in bed. Go figure. Next year will be Julia’s turn—who knows where they’ll end up?
And then there is the Sixteenth Birthday Bash. When each of our girls turns 16, we do a mother/daughter trip—to England. B and I set this as a goal when our girls were very young, and we’ve followed through twice so far. Let me tell you, it wouldn’t matter if we went to the Holiday Inn down the street (although England is my favorite place in the world); the wonderful memories we have made together have drawn us closer during those teen years than anything I could have ever done with them. Taking a trip with one child alone is truly life-changing . . . for both of you . . . and I highly recommend you make this a priority.
Yes, travel takes money, which might mean sacrificing a little to save for a trip, but it is one of the most important ways we have bonded as a family. It’s something I’m passionate about (and I may have written about it just a few times). If there is any way you can do it, even if you have to wait until next year to take it, plan a trip with your family. You’ll never regret it.
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