I heard some words of wisdom from my brother-in-law that has really affected the way we traveled last summer. Basically, his mentality when hitting the road with the family is this: "Vacation starts when you leave the driveway and doesn't end until you park your car back in the garage."
There's just no reason to hurry up, stress out and make everyone's travels unenjoyable along the way waiting for the vacation to begin. Of course there are sometimes time restraints, but if these are expected the journey can still be enjoyable.
So here's some ways we've made traveling part of vacation this summer:
1) Listened to ALOT of Adventures in Odyssey together which we checked out from the library.
2) Enjoyed special-to-us snacks like stringed cheese and yogurt in a tube. Seriously, it's the little things. It doesn't take much.
3) Followed a billboard for a dairy farm in hopes of just stretching our legs and getting some good ice cream. Instead, we had a few hours of serious fun, a 4 D movie and a farm tour. Then we ate the ice cream. Go ahead- ask us anything about dairy production.
4) Stopped at a rest stop and ran off some energy on a playground.
5) With a little research on the internet, decided to stop by and visit an amazing kid's zoo for the afternoon.
6) Said yes, more than no.
7) Took a potty break at a restaurant with a play land and let the little ones race and slide for a few minutes.
8) Picked up some free maps at a rest stop. The kids colored and traced their way home.
9) Stayed in the last day to let the kids swim and play to their heart's content while I did laundry. Going to home with luggage full of clean clothes is a relaxing thought in itself! We also took a much needed nap to recoup from a week of non stop fun.
10) Grabbed bagels for breakfast on the way out town and left a meal ready in the freezer for when we got home again.
I know that our vacation time has been enriched with just a simple shift of thinking. Sometimes in the packing, planning and effort to get out the door, I've left something very important behind- the realization that I'm not blessing my family by stressing and rushing.
Life is not just the destination, it's the journey.
(Just so you know- we consider any time that we spend a night at a hotel 'vacation'. We usually take several short road trips around the Midwest tagging along as my husband works.)
This and other ideas can be found on WFMW at We are THAT Family!