Reflections: The Ever Evolving Family Road Trip

Traveling with a kid is never easy. Traveling with THREE kids can be torture. If you are gone for a week, you pack for ten days. Extra undies for accidents, a warmer jacket (just in case), the favorite blankey, the list goes on and on. My husband tells me I pack too much. But, any mother agrees, too much is just enough when you are traveling with kids.

We like to do road trips since we don’t want to take out a small loan to fly all five of us somewhere exotic. Many times we travel to Northern California to visit family. We usually tie in a scenic spot, like San Francisco or Yosemite. One two-week trip found us coming home with our last clean shirt and shorts.

I pack too much, huh?!

This week my kids are off for Spring Break. My parents flew in to travel with my brood (sans hubby) to NoCal to visit my uncle and aunt, visiting from Iran.

Yes, road trip!

As I packed the too many clothes, blankets and jackets, I instructed the kids to pack a small bag of toys or books to entertain themselves on the trip. We had a 9-hour drive to prepare for, so I loaded my iPad up with movies and games.

The second after we waved goodbye to Daddy, they asked for a movie.

I sweetly  informed them that we had a big day in front of us and I didn’t want them glued to the screen the whole way up.

After 30 minutes of nags and arguments, I relented. Mimi and Papa weren’t used to the noises and commotion that their little angels produce.

After an hour of Bugs Bunny, Middle-Child proclaimed he was bored. He spent the next hour torturing us with his many rants of “I have nothing to do!!!!!!”

He seriously was born as a grumpy old man, like Benjamin Button.

To make a 9-hour story short, I found myself giving my kids lots of game time with my phone and iPad. I started to reflect on the many road trips my parents took my brother and I on, traveling all over Texas and beyond.

All we had was a window and our imagination.

No satellite radio. We’d search for new stations when we entered a new town.

No DVD players or iPods for music, games or movies.

I would stare out the window and look at the scenery and make up stories in my head. Mostly about what life could have been like in the barren landscapes out of my window. My brother and I had an imaginary line down the backseat of the family sedan, ready to go to war if the other dared to cross the border.

While my dad drove the handy minivan this past week, I found myself entertaining the kids and trying to stir up the cobwebs in their imagination.

My princess accepted the challenge whole-heartedly, with pen and paper and drew and wrote and giggled.

The Professor labored over the first paragraph to his novel, entitled “A girl Named Kiera Living In Gilroy.”

Middle-Child grumbled, asking when he could play on the iPad.


We have had an amazing week eating and catching up with all of the family.  And our painful 9-hour ride up has been slightly forgotten. Tomorrow we return home, and I can’t sleep.

Will they be bored to tears again?

Will the traditional road trip lunch at Micky D’s make them giddy, as it used to when they we’re younger?

Will the prospect of getting closer to home and Daddy’s hugs be enough motivation to not nag me to death?

I doubt it. Although the family road trip has evolved a great deal in 30 years, it is still nostalgic and means something special to me. Despite the work and pain.

I point out to my kids the many farms and ranches along our drive. We inhale and giggle the fumes of garlic in Gilroy and chuckle and make jokes. We look for license plates from far away and make up silly car games.

I suppose thing haven’t changed that much after all….

*** UPDATE ***
The kids and I have returned safe and sound. On our way home, we encountered rain, sleet, snow and hail – all encountered just North of Los Angeles. It brought a little excitement to our road trip. You can’t get that on an airplane!

One Response to Reflections: The Ever Evolving Family Road Trip

  1. annabell at #

    It's amazing how the kids expect to be entertained by electronics and they want it one minute after being in the car! Our last trip we made the kids suffer one whole hour b/c we got tired of our middle boy telling us "Why can't we watch a movie, I know it's there, you know it's there and it will make all of us happy". And it did 🙂 Glad to know you had a good time!

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