A Thousand Miles in a Day

I’m really thankful for kids who enjoy traveling. Yesterday we traveled a thousand miles to Minnesota, van full of kids, jamming to music and listening to podcasts.

1000 miles in one day. No sweat.

1000 miles in one day. No sweat.

There may be a parenting tip right under my nose here. I’ve known kids who passionately hate traveling, and they unwittingly hold their family hostage from the opportunities for adventure because of it.

I’ve witnessed some embarrassing moments. In one case I’m thinking of, the child would flip out — literally, like out of her car seat —  throwing her body into whiny, demonic convulsions. The parents would do something of a Mr. Miyagi karate move to the abdomen in order to lock their daughter into her seat. This couple hardly went anywhere.

I flew Wendy with our daughter, Cynthia, ahead of us to Minnesota. I stuck around to get pets and house sitting settled and pack up the kids. We had just one seat to spare in our 15-passenger van. Lydia, Isaiah and I are drivers, then seated like sardines: Micah, Noah, Tabitha, Keilah, Hannah, Josiah, Havilah, Joshua, Priscilla, Zechariah, and Elijah. You can’t see them all in the picture above, but they’re there.

We. Are. Travel. Ninjas. What an adventure!

I suspect there is something to this, a parenting secret that makes raising a family a whole lot of fun. We treat our travels like adventures. Expeditions, that’s a better word. We packed our van perfectly to fit, we packed our cooler together, we cleaned the house together, we scrounged up the winterest coats we could find for Minnesota…all important stuff. We were in this together.

I cannot imagine doing this with a screaming toddler in his car seat. I don’t think one kid asked if we were there yet. Sorry if I sound like a snobby my-kids-are-perfect-why-aren’t-yours dad. I guess I can’t help it. I’m extremely proud of them.

We traveled to Minnesota for Wendy’s sister’s funeral. She died unexpectedly on Monday morning from a blood clot in her lung. She was an incredible person, like a mother to Wendy and the other four siblings in her family. It is tragic news that is hitting our family hard.

But here’s one thing that didn’t hit us hard: how it the world would we travel cross-country with a van full of kids? Like much in life, It was an expedition that needed action. So we just did it.

Question: What expeditions are you taking in life right now?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Aaron Smothers

    So sorry to hear about Wendy’s sister. Praying for your family today.
    Packing up the kids young was worth the effort for us. Trips give us so many memories, adventure, Q&As, and even history lessons for the parents. You know, those times when kids download their knowledge to the parents and we ask, “Where did you learn that?” Wouldn’t trade it.

  • Jennifer Matlock

    We LOVE traveling together as a family. When my kids were young, we lived a 12-hour drive from one side of the family, a 20-hour drive from the other. Now we live less than an hour from my husband’s family, and a 24-hour drive from the majority of mine. We drive the 24-hour trip at least once a year, and when we have time and finances permit, we use those trips to “adventure” as well. Our 2007 trip to visit family in New Mexico included an impromptu side trip to visit friends at Focus on the Family in Colorado, a hangout at Garden of the Gods, a day visiting my college roommate in Wyoming, a drive over to Grand Teton National Park, then a trip up through Yellowstone, a couple days in Montana, a quick visit to Mount Rushmore, then back across the US to Indiana via a more northerly route than we normally took, just to see new places.

    I’ll admit, when my first was young, I didn’t think we’d ever get to this place. Our first trip with him (a “short” 4-hour drive that lasted nearly 8 hours) was a nightmare of constant screaming, frequent stops, wrestling him back into the carseat after each attempt to figure out what was wrong, and eventually, just driving the rest of the way with a completely inconsolable child. But instead of giving up or deciding that our son just wasn’t a “good traveler”, we kept at it, increased our expectations, and made regular long trips as a family, even as each new child came along. We’ve listened to amazing speakers, ALL the Adventures in Odyssey (many multiple times!), discovered amazing things on our side trips, and each trip bonds us as a family in a wonderful, unique way.

    When we bought our current vehicle in 2005, it had a built-in DVD player that I did not really want. I immediately ruled that the DVD player would never be used unless we were on a trip that involved more than a day’s worth of driving. But the funny thing is, even though when we head out on our long trips the kids usually pack a few movies…the movies almost never get watched. Our last trip, the remote control for the DVD player got left in the garage and no one even noticed until we got back from the trip!

    Knowing families who “can’t” visit relatives a 2-hour drive away because their kids “don’t do well” in the car just makes me sad. They have NO idea what they’re really missing!

  • Jennifer Matlock

    PS – 1000 miles in a day? I’m IMPRESSED!