When we disembarked from our trailer after our six week road trip, I think people half expected to see a crazed family of five with glassy eyes and hair standing on end.
When we returned home happy, healthy and closer than ever, I think we surprised everyone, including ourselves. While I’m not entirely sure how that happened, here are a few things we did that I think definitely helped:
- Each person had one tote in which to keep their belongings. No one touched another person’s tote. Unless you were willing for your belongings to wind up in the buy back bin, you kept them in your tote.
- We stayed primarily at KOA campgrounds. Although there are many beautiful campgrounds, we did this because KOAs often have programming for kids in the evenings. Some have movies, some have scavenger hunts, almost all have pools or mini golf or other kid diversions. This allowed Bret and I time to ourselves most nights.
- We kept up our date nights. In most cases, these weren’t actually nights at all, but maybe a quick trip into town to get groceries and a quick bite to eat or, in one case, to an Apple Store to get my computer repaired. Our kids are old enough, and respectful enough, that we knew they could be left behind in the trailer to play games or otherwise entertain themselves.
- We brought the kids’ bikes. This gave them tremendous freedom and flexibility. There were some days where they’d leave shortly after breakfast and, aside from pre-determined check in times, we wouldn’t seem them again until they were hungry or tired.
- We made sure each kid was well aware of their own financial situation before we left home. This made arguments about purchases and activities non existent.
- We kept white boards updated with our weekly schedule and our meals for the week. Although it was our goal to not over schedule ourselves, keeping everything written down one week at a time and posting it for all to see made for a lot less stress and drastically reduced questions.
- We developed a game called Flex Hex. Lewis is a Flex and our kids always have liked the slug bug game. The rules are simple. All family members must be in the car. If someone spots another Flex on the road, they can yell out, “Flex Hex (color of the Flex they see), (name of the person they’re hexing).” This requires the person named to remain silent until either another Flex is spotted and someone else is hexed or someone gets out of the car. So, “Flex Hex red, Domo,” would mean that a red Flex was spotted and Domo couldn’t speak. It was amazing how often those hexes were a god send!
- We didn’t eat differently than we do at home. We learned long ago that the convenience of fast food while traveling is drastically outweighed by the crankiness and bloated feelings we all get afterwards. We indulged occasionally on a fun meal out, but for the most part, we stuck to our normal eating habits and drank a LOT of water.
Although I’m sure we’re still basking in the afterglow of a successful trip, we’ve found that even after two months at home, the kids are still getting along better than they ever did before, and life is still just a little bit more sane.