If you have been reading this blog for a while or are a personal friend of ours you know that as a family we travel a few times a year to visit family. What you might not know is the fact that I hate road trips. I don't hate all road trips just the long ones. Once you pass the five hour mark the trip takes on a more serious tone. Don't get me wrong I really do enjoy the trip once I get there but it is just hard for me to have a great, cheery attitude the entire drive there.
That isn't to say that I haven't tried. Seven years ago my sweet hubby proposed marriage (after I had already taken two long road trips to Arkansas with him). The first couple of trips we took to Arkansas were a lot of fun but they were also about four hours shorter. We lived closer to Arkansas at the time and we didn't yet have children. Since that time I have watched youtube videos and have read numerous blog articles about ways to have a fantastic road trip. I really have tried but somehow I would start to get antsy after about hour six or seven.
From the beginning road trips have always been exciting for me. As a child, my family and I often traveled on various vacations and also to visit my grandparents who did not live close by. (My great grandma lived five hours away so perhaps that is why I seem to get antsy after we pass the five hour mark.) The college I attended was only about three hours away and the grad school I went to was only two hours away. Until my sweet hubby entered the picture I just wasn't accustomed to road trips of such magnitude.
Somehow getting older has helped me in my quest of enjoying road trips.
For some reason all of the effort I put into trying to force myself to enjoy road trips for the past seven years is finally starting to click. When we pulled into the driveway last week after a 1,000 mile trip to visit family and back I realized to myself that I think that I actually had fun in the car. Brandon pulled the car into the driveway and I remember thinking, "Wow. We are here already. I could definitely travel another couple of hours." (I always have a great time visiting family in Arkansas but I usually feel a bit crabby in the car.) Really? Could I finally feel differently about traveling 1,000 miles in the span of just a few days?
What made it different from all the other 20-30 other ten hour road trips I have taken to Arkansas? I'm not actually sure. I always take exciting books to read or craft projects to work on but somehow this time it was different. For years and years I have wished that we could just fly when we visit family. I can't think of any friends of mine growing up who traveled to visit family more than just a few hours. Those that did live far away always flew even if it was only a six or seven hour drive.
I always kind of assumed that once a trip takes you longer than about six or seven hours you just fly there. I'll never forget my absolute shock when I realized that flying from our nearby airport to Arkansas would cost a small fortune at around $450 per ticket. That's not even a direct flight! We are blessed to live by a number of airports that all offer crazy inexpensive flights to a number of places thanks to airlines like Frontier and Allegiant. They just don't offer any flights to Arkansas.
It turns out I did end up flying one way to Arkansas in January by myself with both of our kids when Brandon's Grandmother passed away. (Brandon was already there.) I am so grateful that we were able to fly since I was a little nervous about making a 500 mile trip by myself. It also meant that I was able to be in Arkansas by about ten o'clock in the morning instead of ten o'clock at night. At such a time my heart just ached and longed to be with my sweetheart so I am so glad that we did fly. Flying with two children and having to make a crazy connecting flight isn't really my idea of a fun time. We ALMOST missed our connecting flight because it took so long to retrieve my stroller from under the plane. Our kids are great flyers but I don't relish the stress of trying to make a connecting flight while running through the airport!
Still flying wasn't all that I hoped it would be. The children were wonderful and Evangeline slept most of the time but I terribly missed the ten hours to talk with my husband. We take turns driving and when he is the passenger (or co-pilot as we call it) he talks my head off! Brandon talks about everything under the sun and I just savor every moment of it. I'm usually pleasantly surprised about learning something new about my man. We also recently started listening to Pod casts (mostly Dave Ramsey) in the car while we travel which has helped immensely. It has sparked wonderful conversations between the two of us and really does help the time fly by. If we would have flown last week I would have missed all of that.
I also would have missed visiting with sweet friends of ours who live in Nashville. We had the best time catching up with them and spending the night on our way to Arkansas last week. They fed us a wonderful dinner and completely spoiled us.
I think I have finally resigned myself to the fact that our family is a road trip family. (Well at least until Allegiant or Frontier offer flights to Arkansas.) We are like a well oiled machine when it comes to traveling long distances. I know exactly how to pack the car for maximum enjoyment. The cooler goes here, DVD player goes there, toy bag goes under Eva's seat, etc. We have systems and are crazy organized. I'm a planner kind of girl but my husband LOVES spontaneity so we have also taken a lot of last minute trips to Arkansas where we look at each other and say "Hey let's go to Arkansas and leave in 45 minutes." The crazy thing is the fact that we can actually do that. Even if my husband shakes his head in disbelief every time I go through our "What To Pack For Arkansas" list. He simply can't believe I make a list every single time we travel to his parent's house when we have been so many times before.
What about you and your family? Do you enjoy road trips? Have your feelings about road trips changed over the years?