010: Creating a 13 Year Family Road Trip Tradition with Behind Everyday
Not wanting to be a full-time travel family, but you still want to build a culture of adventure in your home? Then Sheila with Behind Every Day has a great story and tips for you! From a random idea to a 13-year family road trip tradition, she loves exploring the USA with her family, even when her husband can’t join the whole time.
Not every family is meant for a full-time adventure! Some are more suited to spending school holidays having intentional adventures. That’s just what Sheila from Behind Every Day has done with her family. From a “crazy idea” to drive across the country to see family to a 13+ year family road trip tradition that has seen them drive coast to coast, she proves it can be done with kids of all ages! In this episode, she shares how this idea came to be and how it’s changed over the years, as well as tips for families that would like to start their own family road trip tradition!
Want to learn about another family traveling in a minivan?! Check out episode 5 with Choose Your Own Adventure Family.
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Who is Sheila From Behind Every Day?
Sheila is a somewhat scattered, always curious, wife and mom of 3 who loves to laugh and is always up for a road trip. She spends 11 months of the year wrangling her to do list, her class of 5-year-olds, several dog-walking clients, and writing. The 12th month is spent happily roaming the highways and backroads of the US as she travels from place to place visiting her extended family and couch-surfing with friends. You may have seen her out there – she’s the one in the minivan loaded to the gills with luggage, 3 kids, a dog, and dozens of bags of the special potato chips that she brings home from Grandma’s every year.
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In This Episode with Sheila of Behind Every Day We Cover:
What Is So Special About These Potato Chips?
I just had to find out about these potato chips that she brings back to Maryland from her Grandma’s house every year! She’s been having these special chips since she was a child visiting her grandmother in West Central Illinois. And while those that live there think of them as just another brand of chips, they can only be found in this area. They’re called Kitchen Cooked so if you’re traveling through the area you need to check out these chips. Anyone have a picture to share?
How the Family Road Trip Tradition Started:
As a former military family, they ended up settling down across the country from all their extended family. They were planning their trip to visit family and realized that if they were to fly they’d only be able to see one area and would miss multiple family members. So her husband came up with the crazy idea to drive so they could see everyone! And at the time she had an 18m old, 3.5 yr old, and 5 yr old!
How the Family Road Trip Tradition Has Changed Over the Years:
Now that they’ve been doing these yearly family adventures together for over 13 years and her oldest is now in college things have changed. What started as traveling with toddlers and just trying to survive till the next stop has now become a trip where everyone is involved in the planning and life changes are dictating what new destinations they add to their trip.
At the beginning with toddlers and preschoolers, there weren’t any rules because it was just about surviving and getting everyone used to it. But as they got older she instituted some rules like videos couldn’t be played during certain parts of the day or if they’re going through something scenic she asks them to direct them to see their surroundings.
Why Stop and Explore Along the Way:
While many who drive to visit family just plow right through with the destination in mind, Sheila has really made the trip about the journey. Not only does she change up the route from year to year to make sure they’re visiting different parts of the country, but she also keeps a running list of stops her or the rest of the family wants to see. For her and the kids, these stops are what make the driving enjoyable and what sets each year apart from the rest.
Tips for Families Looking to Create a Family Road Trip Tradition
- Start young so they get used to the trips. Even for personalities that don’t enjoy the long car rides, they learn how to manage their time.
- Be relaxed. Don’t be so set of dates and number of stops, but really just base it off your family and you.
- Don’t have unrealistic expectations. While the memories are important, there will be times the trip is tough. Choose your battles and stop when needed.
- Keep a snack box. Kids will be hungry at the most inopportune times!
- For those that struggle with the time in the car that constantly ask “are we there yet?” give them some visuals to help them know how much time you have left from hand distances to beads on a string.
- Try to drive while kids sleep.
- FInd some awesome children’s audiobooks or podcasts!
What Would She Change if She Could Go Back and Do It Over?
One aspect of her trips she would change if she could do it over is to travel in the offseason. Of course, when you’re working around school holidays this isn’t possible, but if you homeschool try to travel in the spring and fall for better deals and weather!
Her Favorite Memories of their Road Trip Tradition:
As with most people, it’s the unplanned and sometimes scary moments that you look back on with the most fondness. It’s the moments your family experiences and worked through things together that bring your family closer together.
She’s also given herself a goal of visiting all National Park Sites and have found it to be a great instigator in visiting areas she normally would never have gone to. One is Great Basin National Park and while they missed the famous cave, they thoroughly enjoyed the views from the hiking trails.
How These Road Trips Have Helped Her Family:
In addition to the perspective shift that happens with traveling, she saw how it helped their education. She said they would often come home and say they learned about something they saw on their road trips and it made it more personal. It’s also made it easier for her children to decide where they’d like to go to college because they have experienced seeing the different areas of the country.
How Her Husband and Her Find a Balance of Expectations:
While the original idea may have stemmed from her husband, his work schedule and lack of love of random roadside attractions, make it so they don’t always travel together for the whole journey. While this would mean just missing all these places for most families, they’ve made it work. So now during the planning, he finds the areas he’s most interested in and will fly in to join them for that part of the trip so they still get the full family experience for part of the trip.
Where to Find Sheila from Behind Every Day:
Get the packing list mentioned in episode 8 now!