Two years ago, in the middle of a snowy, windy, Colorado March, my husband and I made the spontaneous decision to road trip to Arizona with our three very young kids.
Even though I was excited, the nerves were so very real.
Over the next couple of weeks, I literally lost sleep worrying about the logistics of our trip. My late-night mindless scrolling was replaced by searches like “traveling with toddlers” and “keeping kids entertained on road trips”.
We already had our hands full chasing kids at home in a familiar setting. Were we crazy to think we could just throw everyone in the car for an 11+ hour car ride and that it would even be somewhat . . . enjoyable?
But we did.
And it was.
The next five days were filled to the brim with pure, unplugged, undistracted family time—something I don’t know if we had ever genuinely had before.
There wasn’t a sink full of dishes calling my name. There were no, just a minutes or I can’t right now, I’m busys pulling me away from tiny hands while I tried to juggle motherhood and work. My husband didn’t have to kiss us goodbye as he left first thing each morning.
Instead, we got to just be.
We had a front-row seat to the wonder on our kids’ faces as they experienced new places and things.
We all laughed more than we had in who knows how long.
We weren’t rushing to the next activity or trying to finish up a work project before dinnertime.
It was such a special bonding time for my husband and me, and we got to truly enjoy each other and our family without the tag-teaming of responsibility that everyday life requires.
We were just together. And it was ordinary and magical and simple and hands down one of the most special times we’ve ever shared as a family.
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Was it challenging? Well, yeah.
It still got old when the kids asked “are we there yet?” 57 times and we stopped so many times I thought we would never get anywhere.
Sharing hotel beds with three little bodies led to a lot of rib kicks, and I wouldn’t exactly describe the vacation as restful.
The floor of our car looked like a trash can by the time it was said and done, and there were still 10 pounds of laundry to unpack and wash when we made it home.
But was it worth it?
A million times yes.
We would make the same choice over and over—in fact, that trip has become our very favorite annual tradition and time to connect as a family
So to the parents on the fence about traveling with their kids, this is what I have to say: Take the trip.
Even if it’s on a whim.
Even if you have to stop 5,796 times for pee breaks and snack breaks and I-dropped-my-tablet-again breaks.
Even if you’re overwhelmed by the thought of keeping a family safe and happy in a new setting.
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Even if the hours you spend prepping and planning are longer than the actual time you spend away.
Even if your kids are so young you’re not sure they’ll even really remember.
Do it for yourself. Do it for them. Do it for your marriage. Do it for your family.
Unplug. Have genuine conversations. Focus on their smiles and the way their eyes light up at a brand-new world. Eat too much ice cream and get pruny in the hotel pool.
Make the memories while they’re there for the making.
I know it’s overwhelming, and it sounds like SO MUCH WORK.
But seriously. Just take the trip.
I promise it’ll be worth it.