I’ve always wanted to do a round the world trip with my family. So many cool places to see, so many cool things to do! It seems ideal to introduce the children to travel and to adventure while they were still young and adaptable. We did a 3 week road trip this summer through the American West (the states of South Dakota and Wyoming) and I can now say definitively that I need to put that dream on hold. Here are my main reasons:
1. Differing Tastes
The children have very different tastes in hotels and restaurants from us. We booked a handful of beautiful renovated historic hotels and B&B’s along with other types of available lodging.
What was their favourite? The house we rented on a guest ranch which was an ode to kitschy themed Western decorating. Why? It had a hot tub on the porch.
My kids were obsessed with Dairy Queen. They greeted Dairy Queen drive-throughs like they were the Second Coming. Mr. N hated drive-throughs because no teenager manning the window could understand his British accent through the crackly microphone he had to speak into.
Our favourite restaurant was the Snake River Grill in Jackson Hole, Wyoming which served Modern American fare. Their favourite restaurant was the Black Bear Grill in Keystone in South Dakota (ranked 25 of 31 in Keystone restaurants by Tripadvisor). It had Smores you could make at the table – heaven on Earth if you are 8 years old.
Smores if you don’t know are an American dessert made with melted chocolate and marshmallow sandwiched between graham crackers.
During our road trip I was preoccupied with laundry and packing. We had to take a lot of clothes for the children because they are mucky at the best of times. By the end of a week, we would have one full suitcase of dirty kids’ clothes.
And, don’t even get me started on sick children. My daughter had a cold she couldn’t shake off. My son broke his arm badly early in the summer and we had to find paediatric orthopaedic doctors on the road to change his cast and check his progress. Of course, each doctor clucked over what a previous doctor had done which only made me anxious.
3. Different Expectations of Entertainment
The children eventually got bored with museums and historical sightseeing. We got tired of water parks, mini golf and swimming pools. There were a lot of scenic drives which Mr. N and I enjoyed more than the children. I think once they saw the view, subtle variations in scenery over the next hour did not interest them as much.
4. Inability to Homeschool
I admire those parents who can homeschool because my children point-blank refused to do any sort of educational activity. The most we managed to do was get them to learn all the states by setting up a contest to see who could spot the most state license plates on the road. Amazingly, we found all of the 50 states except Hawaii and Rhode Island.
Long-term travel with no educational input would be a non-starter for us. I know that unschooling is a popular theory for letting children learn through life experiences without the structure of a formal curriculum but it’s way too hippie for us.
5. Too Much Time Together
Considering Mr. N works 12+ hours a day, I am not complaining about family time together. I do think my children need other children to play with though. Their bond as twins is naturally intense and cooped up together for an extended period of time is not a good thing. We could hear them bickering like an old married couple in the back of the car. You know how everyone has that annoying voice in their head? Well, when you are a twin, that annoying know-it-all voice is sitting right beside you. It was like listening to episodes of that old sitcom, The Honeymooners.
Don’t get me wrong – it was a fabulous trip and we had a great time together. It just wasn’t really relaxing. Mr. N and I have done lots of road trips before we had children. Road trips with children though are a completely different beast. I’m thinking they need to grow up a bit more before we can travel for extensive periods with them.
Have you ever taken a long road-trip with children? How did you manage? I can’t decide if I’m being a big baby.