I just spent nine days with my Mom in Mexico, we talked a lot about our adventures growing up. Below is a post my Mom wrote about her experience traveling with kids. We have met a lot of families on the road with kids and I always think how lucky they are.
My Mom wrote the post and picked the pictures, I wrote the captions on the pictures.
As young travelers, Erica and Heather were able to sleep with us inside the van: Erica took the cot suspended over the space between the small bed and the front seat and Heather, three years younger, slept in a cot in the front of the van, suspended between the front doors. Every change of position was felt throughout the entire van, and trips to the “potty” were quite involved. We used the tent for cooking and as a play area for the inevitable Barbies and their entourages.
Breakfasts and lunches were eaten outside at the camp’s tables, complete with the friendly bees who loved jam and cheeses and deli meats from local stores. Dinners were often foil packets cooked over a campfire: potatoes, onions, and cheese melted together in a gooey mess; spicy chicken with veggies, fresh fruit. My favorite times were early morning when the smoke from the campfire mixed with the smell of bacon and coffee (Cheerios don’t really offer an aroma of camping!)
As a teacher, I was always thinking of ways to make our trips a learning experience: at one time or another each girl kept a journal with postcards which I helped her write. These journals have become treasures for me and I can hear their voices in the writing. Ranger lessons were always fun, and I’ll never forget the yellow banana slug races in the northern redwoods. On hikes, each girl had to have a turn as the “leader”, an important role as we explored redwoods, fields of flowers in Baja, windy beaches in Oregon, Monument Valley, the gold country, Mesa Verde and Bryce and Zion in Utah.
They learned to be independent, to look for adventures everywhere, to collect rocks and plants and shells, to see people different from themselves. They saw the beauty of our western national parks and learned to love the outdoors. They also learned to appreciate travel without luxury and that nature can be the best playground.
I still remember the small moments such as my French braiding Erica’s hair on top of a rock, finding lava rocks offroad in San Quentin (Baja), talking with a young Navajo girl about her pinon necklaces in Monument Valley and visiting most of the California missions.
There were challenging times for us as parents as well: Erica backed up to the edge of a waterfall in Zion and almost fell off. Heather had to be carried on Dad’s back when she tired on a long hike in Bryce Canyon. They both managed to climb the steep ladders at Mesa Verde into the Anasazi cave homes and usually managed to not fall into the fire retrieving marshmallows for s’mores.
I hope all these trips played a part in the wonderful women my daughters have turned into. Heather is living in Uganda, Africa working for a non profit and Erica is following in our footsteps and taking a very long and very adventurous road trip. They became strong, independent, kind, free spirited women, living slightly unconventional lives. If you are lucky this is what you get when you teach your kids about the world through travel.