If you follow Rachel at all on Instagram or Facebook, you may have seen that we recently endeavored on a 2500+ mile road trip with our family of 7. Why would we put ourselves through such an ordeal? Well we say the better question is, WHY NOT?
We desire to have a family life that says yes to adventure and no to the mundane. We realize this isn’t for everyone. As one of my favorite authors and preachers Mark Batterson says, “Don’t accumulate possessions. Accumulate experiences!”
This road trip was the opportunity to accumulate some experiences for our kids and to see some friends from Indiana. Since we made the move to Florida just over 2 months ago, Christian has had the hardest adjustment. He has really been enjoying life most of the time, but he misses his old friends the most—especially his brothers from a different mother, Jace and Will Tonagel. Jace and Will’s dad is Greg Tonagel, the men’s basketball coach for our favorite team, the IWU Wildcats. The Wildcats were getting ready to play in the NAIA national tournament in Branson, MO….so we said….WHY NOT?!? And we took to the road for an adventure.
Well, for those of you who are thinking about venturing on a road trip with a young family, here are a few tips we picked up:
- Have enough vehicle space.
You may not know this, but Rachel and I are rocking the old school 12-passenger van these days. Picture the church van you used to take summer youth trips in, but make it sweet gold instead of white or black. While this van has more room than we need, on more than one occasion we have been extremely thankful for the extra space. When you’re driving all day for 2 days in a row, it is very welcoming for the kids to have the space to be less likely to pummel each other. I’d advise having at least 2 more seats available than what you need. But to each his own. If you choose to use a 7-seat minivan for 7 people to drive over 1,000 miles, it’s your funeral. 🙂
- Find great friends.
On the first leg of our journey, we had the immense privilege of staying with our now dear friends Robin and Chad Merrill in the suburbs of Atlanta. Robin is also a Senior Associate with GiANT Worldwide, and she gave our family a supreme taste of Southern hospitality. Breaking a long into pieces trip by staying a night or 2 with some close (or soon to be close 🙂 friends is a great way to make a long trip much more enjoyable.
- Have entertainment boundaries for your kids.
Just kidding. 😛 If you know us at all, you know that compared to some we are fairly strict on how much our kids are allowed to play on devices or watch movies/tv. On trips, we tend to leave the boundaries MUCH more open. We do require them to turn things off and either read or rest occasionally, but for the most part we figure they’ll stop when the battery dies on their Kindle/iPad.
- Be Flexible! (Obviously)
Hardly anything in life goes as planned. Long road trips with young families are no different. If you are not a flexible person (in attitude not body) and desire to develop more flexibility in your personality, take your family on a road trip. You invariably have to be open to plans changing and making adjustments as you go.
All-in-all, we had an enjoyable experience on our road trip and highly enjoyed seeing friends again and watching our Wildcats make the final 4. The most unique experience? The kids really wanted to sleep in the van for a night on the way home. So with 3 bench seats and floor space available, the big golden Henry mobile became the Henry house on wheels for a night of sleeping in the panhandle of Florida. And you know what…..we all survived and accumulated another great experience.
So I encourage you….look for unique and adventurous ways that you can create unique and memorable experiences for your family right now. We’ll never get these times back.
Christian, Jace, and Will got their hands on my phone: