We recently returned home from a road trip with our three boys. It was our first true “vacation” as a family of five since our twins came on the scene almost three years ago. We decided it was time to be brave and help our little rascals off their beaten paths around our family room.
We chose a short(ish) road trip to New Mexico for the following reasons:
- Our destination hotel is kid-friendly with several pools, waterslides, trails, activities, restaurants, and, most importantly, other families with small children.
- A six hour car drive is shorter than a plane trip anywhere, given all of the logistics with flying and airports.
- If the kids scream and cry, we are the only ones to hear it.
- We can stop if we need a break.
- We can pack what and however much we want including: bags of snacks, a multitude of electronic devices and chargers, lifejackets, bike helmets, bottomless toiletries, and our very own outhouse bag with diapers, pull-ups, underoos, swim diapers, and wipes. A lot of wipes.
- Should disaster strike, we can always turn around and come home.
After forcing the boys on the trampoline for thirty minutes to burn off some excitement and energy, we packed up the car, buckled everyone, and backed out of the driveway with crossed fingers and hope.
The kids started crying and screaming and fighting approximately 45 seconds into the trip.
Ted and I looked at each other and simultaneously said, “Should we bag this?”
We didn’t. Instead we took a few deep breaths and turned up the radio.
We headed south on the highway and our expectations of a smooth travel headed in the same direction. But we went for it anyway. It was, of course, the time to be brave.
As it turns out, we didn’t need bravery. Despite our rough start and low expectations, our kids pleasantly surprised (read: shocked) us. We spent a total of almost fourteen hours in the car round-trip, and it was, for the most part, easy. Our kids were patient (gulp) and quiet (gulp) and peaceful (gulp gulp). Even with traffic. Even without naps.
The hotel also exceeded expectations. The kids loved the pools, the hallways, and the fries at every meal. The twins shouted, “We’re on a trip! We’re on a trip!” Big brother was helpful and happy and just as excited as his little groupies.
There were some road bumps, of course. We had a few rowdy and wolf-like meals, a couple of mishaps with an outdoor pizza oven, and daily “accidental” calls to the security desk due to an obsession with the hotel phones. We also had one midnight looting episode involving two kids, one crib, every coffee/tea/sugar packet in the room, and the hotel shampoos and lotions. Picture mud wrestling. Picture sugar scrub. Picture angry mom.
In the end, however, I’d call this trip a win-win-win. We all had fun. We all got sleep. We were able to finish meals. We smiled. We laughed. We praised. We didn’t have any trips to the emergency room. And we all made it home.
We proved they could do it, we could do it, and, most importantly, we’d even do it again someday.
My kids reminded me on this trip how easy they are to impress. They can find fun anywhere. Give them a long hallway or a telephone. Or a pack of sugar, but only if you’re brave.
One afternoon, a lady stopped us and told us she thought our kids were “so enjoyable.” So enjoyable. Now that was a first. But it was also a truth. They were. They are.
There really is a little magic in that place called When You Least Expect It.
Sometimes all it takes is an open road. And an open mind.