I have never been a big fan of road trips.  Our family growing up was a passionate group and road trips of my youth were filled with miles and miles of “quiet time” or family disagreements, or better yet, car troubles or visits to less than desirable locations.  Ok. I hated them.  So when we decided to load up the kiddies and take a 14 hour trek (stops included) to the beach this year, I was secretly filled with dread.  But my husband LOVES road trips.  His youth was filled with cross country treks and a Mom who made road trips fun for them.  Secret bags of goodies brought out a milestones on the trip.  Stops at national monuments.  Tours of battleships….every little boys dream.

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You know I “Design with a Deadline”.  I squeeze in as much life into every minute as possible and am all about shaving time off of everything, including travel.  How in God’s name does a 14 hour car ride fit into that mantra?  So last week we headed out with our car loaded down, pups left at home with super caregivers and anticipation for a week at the beach with some of our favorite people.  Here is what I learned and why I now have a completely different view of road trips.

Car Road Trip

1.  FAMILY TIME- Lets face it.  Four people in a car have to communicate and if you are my husband, you WILL communicate.  We had walkie-talkies and talked to the other family driving down with us via 30 second chats.  I learned a lot about my childrens’ video games, their friends, the books or games they were involved in and most importantly my husband and our friends’ childhoods.  As we drove each of the men recounted their childhood family trips via their walkie-talkie chats and it was a wonderful story of lives well-lived.  At one point, I changed seats and sat in the back with my daughter and we had 6 hours of un-interrupted snuggles, chats and watched movies together.  It was really bliss and I had no other interruptions.

Car DRive Side View

2.  TOPOGRAPHY – We had a chance to examine four states on our drive – Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida.  They are vastly different from road patterns, car types, billboards, trees, water and swamps and even bridges.  The bridges were definitely our favorite part and luckily we have had lots of rain this year in the South and everything was verdant and green.  We love living in the South and the drive gave us the opportunity to educate our little ones on the differences between each states’ trees and wildlife.

3.  FOOD – Road trip food is like no other.  I can’t say I am a huge fan of beef jerky and soda, but if you can fit in a Dairy Queen hand-dipped ice cream cone and explore the local residents at each stop, you get a really great education of vernacular and local fare.  Also, there is nothing better than the long anticipated stop where you pull out those snacks and goodies from the trunk in the cooler.  Drinks are especially cold and stretching your legs and filling up the tank also come with a chance to stop into local stores and explore what fun can be purchased (like pink mustaches)

Back Seat DRivers

4.  CREATIVITY – Believe it or not, the time spent in  a car staring out the window allowed me to think.  And think without abandon.  I planned my designs for the balcony outside of my home office.  I planned the design for a new project I just signed before leaving town.  I planned my week alone with my husband while our kids are at grandmas next week.  I also planned our upcoming travel schedule for Fall.  I planned my calendar for the last few weeks of summer with my kids.  All of that empty drive time created a huge space in my head for creativity and uninterrupted thought.  I came home with hundreds of new ideas.

5.  SLEEP – They beauty of a road trip is that the smelly, snoring man next to you in the airplane seat doesn’t exist.  Instead, your sweet little girl is napping next to you and you can sleep too.  The constant thump-thump-thump of the road lulls you to sleep and there isn’t a pesky flight attendant hitting your knee as she rolls past with the drink cart.  Also, you can choose ANY drink you want to bring along, not just what is available after you get through security.  I arrived to the beach thoroughly rested and hydrated, thanks to my pillow I brought from home for the trip and copious amounts of bottled water.

I think I may be a reformed “road trip avoider”.  What started out as dread and what felt like a waste of valuable time turned into a gold mine of space in my head to design, be creative and even connect with my family in a pretty short amount of time.  Multi-tasking while being present.  Who doesn’t love that??  And of course there is the ultimate reward….arriving at the beach!!

beach view

I have one last day to enjoy the glow from a beautiful vacation and I intend to savor every minute.  So before my airline travel schedule becomes full again, I intend to bask in the glow of a pretty perfect road trip and be grateful for a family memory that will last forever.

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I would love to hear your thoughts on road-tripping – love it or hate it??