There is something about the open road, the endless possibilities that await out there, that calls some of us to travel.

We want to experience what a place has to offer whether that is exploring its history or its nature trails. We want to see the unique wildlife. We want to eat the food. We wanted to immerse ourselves in the culture of a place. We desire to engage with the locals and learn about their lives. In our souls, we’re travelers—on a journey to discover all we can in this one journey of life.

It’s easy to think once kids start coming along it’s time to put our travel dreams on hold.

Maybe for that first year it is, but after that why not make them a part of the journey?

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When we started building our family with first one daughter, then two, and then a son I knew I had a decision to make: put my travel dreams and goals off until retirement or take them with us on our trek across the country to see and experience all 50 states by age 50.

We decided to bring them along for the ride, despite how crazy some thought we were for taking off weeks at a time, driving days across the country with three kids crammed in the car with us. Five people crammed in a five-person vehicle for 20- to 40-hour road trips is like the family version of the “get along shirt” you throw fighting siblings in.

Our kids aren’t going to remember everywhere we went. They may or may not recall that we took them to this science center in Pittsburgh or that planetarium in Chicago or learned about the American Revolution at Williamsburg, VA or the Civil War in Gettysburg or explored and hiked in this national park or that one. They’re not going to remember the specifics of each state’s food, history, parks, and museums that were explored throughout their childhood.

But so many of us do it all anyway—and we won’t regret the choice to travel with them.  

Though kids won’t remember everywhere they traveled with their parents, what they will get from it is their own passion for traveling and exploring and understanding the history and beauty of each new place they discover.

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They will remember their parents chasing their vision to see and explore as much as they could in their lifetime. They will remember the valuable time spent together. Though it’ll all blur together, they’ll recall spending so much time learning alongside their parents in museums and at historical sites, and hiking and exploring national parks and nature’s beauty wherever they could find it.

They won’t remember the specifics, but they’ll remember the time. They’ll remember the games and bonding of countless hours in the car. They’ll remember parents who worked hard but also found just as much value in playing hard and enjoying life, too.

They won’t remember all the places they went, but they’ll remember wherever their parents went, there was always a place for them to come along for the ride.

It’s easy to think taking our children to see the world is about indulging them. But hopefully, what they’ll see instead is that the world isn’t about them. Every time they experience or see something amazing, we hope they take something valuable from it. They will see the world as something so much bigger than themselves. It’ll teach them to look for the beauty and faith that is there with every sunrise and sunset.

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As our cars eat up miles on the highways, as we rediscover history together, and as we hike mountains in national parks, we hope our kids will grow up to appreciate the beauty in our journeys even more than our destinations.

Angela Williams Glenn

Angela Williams Glenn writes about the struggles and joys of motherhood on her website Stepping into Motherhood. Her book Moms, Monsters, Media, and Margaritas examines the expectations verse the realities of motherhood in our modern day digital era and her book Letters to a Daughter is an interactive journal for mothers to their daughters. She’s also been published with Chicken Soup for the Soul, TAAVI Village, Bored Teachers, and Filter Free Parents. You can find her on her Facebook page at Stepping into Motherhood.