Posts Tagged ‘car travel with kids’

What A Long, Strange Homecoming It’s Been

Monday, July 12th, 2010

“Let’s sleep with the kids,” I said on our first night back in our house, which echoed from emptiness because our belongings remained in storage. Morgan agreed, and with relief I unrolled my sleeping bag on my daughter’s floor, putting her and Kyle on one side of me and Morgan on the other.

I wanted to hear their breathing and feel their closeness one more night before everything changed back to our non-traveling life — before the movers came and filled our house with so much of the furniture and boxes of stuff that I now feel ambivalent about owning, and before my kids moved back into their own rooms and we all established our separate domains in this house that feels too big and fancy. I wanted to curl up in my sleeping bag and fantasize we were camping the way we did on the banks of the Colorado River or on the beach of New Zealand’s Abel Tasman Park.

Everyone has been asking how it feels to return home. The short answer is: weird, and tiring! I haven’t felt this conflicted and unsettled since … well, since we pulled out of our driveway to start the trip on August 15, 2009.

The penultimate stop: We drove through Yosemite on our last day and arrived home about four hours later.

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Canberra: There’s Something To It!

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

A great place to start the day: drinking coffee outside the ambassador’s house.

Regular readers of this blog know of the National Lampoon Vacation-esque lodging we sometimes find ourselves in — establishments such as the Blackball Hilton (dorm-style rooms with recycled hospital beds) and the Abel Tasman Barn (two toilets to share with fifty other backpackers). More recently, we became aficionados of flimsy cabins at campervan parks. We now feel as though we’ve scored some fancy digs if we stay in a place that has carpeting made for indoor use only.

Imagine how we felt, therefore, upon arriving at the place we were invited to stay in Canberra: the United States Embassy! (Cue the banjo music as the Smiths, with beach sand still in their hair, drive through the security gates in their bird-poop-covered, packed-to-the-roof dented rental…) (more…)

Changes Ahead

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

So long, Australia! This shot overlooks Canberra and Lake Burley Griffin.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about “how to plan a year-long family itinerary” as though I were some kind of expert on the topic. But far from being experts, Morgan and I are learning as we go — with mixed success. As soon as I published that post, we made the big, difficult decision to tear apart and rebuild the last leg of our itinerary.

The rebuilding part has been rather stressful and time consuming, with thousands of dollars and our last month of travel at stake. We ate up much of our limited WiFi access during the last few weeks researching where to go, how to get there, how much it’ll cost and where to stay. As is often the case with travel planning, these issues are maddeningly interrelated.

So here’s the scoop: (more…)

Cheerio, New Zealand

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

On the road between Queenstown and Glenorchy (click to enlarge).

On the road between Queenstown and Glenorchy (click to enlarge).

On a run with Morgan this morning, I wistfully said goodbye to New Zealand and its intoxicating, idyllic landscape. We headed out from our friends’ home near Queenstown, where we stayed for over a week, and took a trail that showcased so much of what I’ll miss about New Zealand: (more…)

Glimpsing the Grand Canyon

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Our visit to the Grand Canyon was not unlike the Griswolds’.

We had never been to the Grand Canyon and always wanted to go — but our dream is to raft the river, hike rim to rim and camp for days. Alas, that was not meant to be. A variety of circumstances — including Kyle’s young age, Morgan’s broken toe and the park’s dog-unfriendly regulations — meant we settled for a drive-by visit. Here’s how we did the Grand Canyon in about five hours: (more…)

Home on the Road: A Q&A With the BodesWell Bunch

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Long-term family travel is ripe for self-doubt. We rented out our home, pulled the kids out of school, dug deep into savings, reduced our stuff to what we can carry, jeopardized professional relationships, drove away from our neighborhood, and promptly stopped hearing from more than half of our friends.

Are we doing the right thing? And what exactly are we doing, anyway?

When the circumstances and those questions haunt me on a night like this — when I survey our family and our belongings consolidated into a shoebox of a room in a dumpy motel, and I consider our plans (or rather, our lack of planning) in the months ahead — I take solace and find humor in the loose-knit, far-flung network of other families who also decided to uproot their lives and experience a nomadic existence. (more…)

Good “Car-Ma” For Long Car Trips

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

We took time to stop at parks, like this one in Fallon, NV. The kids were delighted to find rusting and not-entirely-safe playground equipment from a previous generation. Colly forgot the word for "merry-go-round," since she so rarely sees one, and said, "They have one of those tables that spins!"

We took time to stop at parks, like this one in Fallon, NV. The kids were delighted to find rusting and not-entirely-safe playground equipment from a previous generation. Colly forgot the word for "merry-go-round," since she so rarely sees one, and said, "They have one of those tables that spins!"

The four of us plus the dog just drove 1100 miles from Northern California to Southwestern Colorado, and along the way we avoided family feuds and never resorted to Happy Meal bribery (as in, “If you can be patient until the next town, then we’ll stop at McDonald’s”). The kids agreed it was one of the “funnest” long car trips in recent memory, and they didn’t seem to mind that we had no DVDs, no video games and limited personal space in the tightly packed Subaru Outback wagon. Here’s what I learned or was reminded of regarding car travel with kids as we passed the miles:

  • Take time to get there. We divided the trip into 3 days and 2 nights, even though it can be done pretty easily with just one overnight. Arriving at our midway destinations with time to spare allowed the kids to swim in the motel pool and play at local parks.
  • Share the music and listen together. We all have our own IPods and could have driven with earbuds firmly implanted, in our own little worlds. Not that there’s anything wrong with that for some of the time, but we chose to listen to one IPod at a time (trading off between the kids’ playlists and ours) and played it through the car stereo for all to hear. The upside: the conversation kept going, and the kids were happy that we were willing to listen to their music. (more…)