Expenses often make flying to vacation destinations prohibitive or all together not possible especially for a family living on one income. Instead of ditching the idea of vacation we fall back to an American institution – the road trip. Anyone can travel and occupy their children with today’s modern technology. Movies, cell phones and gaming systems have taken over our lives to the point where we feel naked without them. I propose there is a better way. A way where our family relationships can be strengthened and our road trip becomes part of our vacation instead of just a means to an end.
Take a trip while you take a trip. Explore someplace you’ve never been. Do something you’ve never done. Read a book. Yes, I know as homeschooling families we may have a tendency to consider reading a book too school-like. So don’t just READ the book, make it a family affair. Bring a story that excites and intrigues, maybe one that is above your children’s reading level and one that dad can enjoy as well. Discuss the story, ask questions such as, “Why do you think they made that decision?” or “What would you have done instead?” I find these simple questions engage the listener and can help us to create a story of our own. If you happen to be one of the unlucky few that cannot read in a moving vehicle, you can enlist one of your older children to do the reading or as a last resort, many books are now offered in audio form.
Everyone knows that traveling with a family requires more frequent stops; I suggest we use these to our advantage. If you do a little research before your trip you can find free historical sites not too far off your main route. Enlist the help of your children; they will have something to look forward to. Learn about our country’s pioneers, the Indians who traveled the Trail of Tears or Military forts or landmarks. We live in a historically rich nation and there is always something nearby if we just take the time to look for it.
Use your trip as an opportunity to learn of other cultures and experience the food they eat. We have chosen to expose our children to many different cuisines since they were toddlers and they have a broader palate than many adults we know. Our country is a melting pot of ethnicity, of people who fought against the odds, made great sacrifice and immigrated to our country legally. These many cultures make our country great. Some of the many cuisines you may want to try are: Asian, Greek, Indian, German and Mexican. There is fare available to appease even the pickiest of taste.
Option #1 – Employ the use of story starters or story prompts. Choose a prompt to start the story and go around the vehicle as each person adds to the story. We have laughed so hard using this method because the story never ends up going where you think it will. If you want, you can also record your story and when you get home edit it and submit it in a writing contest.
Option #2 – Each person can tell a story and the rest of the passengers have to guess if it is fact or fiction.
There are certainly times on a trip where quiet is desired or necessary, driving through St. Louis during rush hour comes to mind. During these times it may be best to work on a new skill. Some quiet skills that are road worthy might be:
As homeschoolers our children are familiar with using an atlas but nothing is better than learning about the state of Nebraska as you drive through miles of corn, observing the oil rigs in Wyoming or driving past the arch in St. Louis. We have the opportunity to learn of commerce, agriculture, natural resources and the people of each state we drive through and enrich our children’s outlook of the great nation we call home. Take the time to point out the cotton fields in the south, the cornfields in the mid-west, and the herds of Black Angus that dot the fields beside the road. Discuss the goods these things produce and how we benefit from the labor of others.
To some a road trip may seem like necessary torture to get to a desired destination. I suggest that a road trip can be a time of enrichment and fun if only we take the time to plan a little in advance.