Shock, disbelief & awe
These are the three most common reactions I get when I tell people that I take my kids on a road trip every summer without my husband. The reactions are typically followed with a series of questions:
- Aren’t you scared to travel alone?
- You husband lets you?
- Does your husband mind?
- How do you even do this? It’s so much work!
- You do WHAT?!?!
A lot of women, especially in my age bracket and older (I am what is considered a Xennial, sandwiched between Generation X and the Millenials), are shocked by this. I get it. We were raised to be independent, but maybe less so than today’s younger generations. We grew up with images of serial killers on the news like Green River Killer, The Nightstalker, and Jeffery Dahmer. Often times that leaves us with a feeling of vulnerability when traveling without our husbands. Many women feel like they are an easy target and that is intimidating as hell. That alone discourages many women from traveling without their spouse. Plus there is the reality of not having additional support when it comes to managing the kids, especially when they are young. Again, totally intimidating. When we travel my husband and I have a partnership that works for us. He drives while I navigate, manage the kids, and nap. When I road trip without him I am doing alllll those things except the napping. I am driving, navigating, breaking up fights, tossing snacks, and managing those countless potty breaks.
In the spirit of honesty, I have to confess that I actually chickened out of my first road trip. When my daughter was eight I wanted to take her on an road trip through Oregon. I got scared and cancelled. Why? Because of all those reasons I mentioned in the paragraph above. I had visions of my car breaking down on a lonely highway with no cell service and being stranded at the world’s mercy. I was convinced that a sociopath would knock on our hotel room door and kidnap us. Maybe a little dramatic, but it is a concern many women have. I blame my overactive imagination and watching too many episodes of Dateline.
The following year I actually took that road trip and guess what? I felt powerful as hell because I put myself out there and I did it. My daughter and I drove to Washington to visit family. Not a huge cross country trip, but I made an adventure out of it. To date it is still one of her most memorable trips. When I came home and the trip was over I realized all this time I had nothing to be so intimidated by that it should prohibit me from fulfilling a goal. The world was not full of serial killers waiting for a woman and her child to hit the open road and my husband could survive perfectly fine on his own for ten days. As a result the annual summer road trip was born.
I currently have five years of these types of road trips under my belt. This summer’s trip will be our farthest. We are conquering what I call the “Wild West Loop”:
California –> Nevada –>Utah –>Wyoming –>South Dakota –>Nebraska –>Colorado
–>Utah –>Nevada –>California.
We will be covering seven national parks, at least six national monuments, and countless sights along the way. In preparation of this summer’s road trip with my kids I will be writing a series of posts geared towards women. I hope to inspire some and maybe help others in their planning. I believe in empowerment and I want women to know that yes, you too can do this. Also, while I firmly believe in spouses supporting each other, you don’t need anyone’s permission to do anything (as long as it’s legal lol). Every year Todd and I sit down and discuss what we want to do as a family and what I will be doing on my own. When people ask my husband, “you let her go on a road trip?” his response is always a firm, “I don’t own her.”
People often wonder why my husband doesn’t join me on road trips. Honestly, they are just not his thing. He has a “normal” job where he has to report to his employer and has limited amount of vacation per year. Allocating all of his vacation time for one trip spent driving is not how he wants to use it. I completely respect that. I grew up driving to destinations, including two cross country trips from California to Wisconsin. As a result exploring every nook and cranny in the United States is how I love to spend my time. Being a travel blogger and professional photographer gives me the luxury and flexibility to dedicate my time to traveling via highway rather than plane. We compromise because why should either partner in a relationship short change themselves simply because the other doesn’t like something. That’s what a partnership is: compromise. I road trip to satisfy my incurable case of wanderlust and if possible he will fly in for a few days. Other trips we do together as a family of four. That’s not to say I don’t miss him. I do. I miss sharing these sites and adventures with him, but the freedom to do what I want to do and stop where I want to stop is pretty awesome.
Then there is the “why”. Why do you road trip? For some a root canal has more appeal than driving to a destination when they could just hop on a plane and fly there in a fraction of the time. Like I mentioned, I have this incurable case of wanderlust. I want to see our entire country via highway. I like finding these hidden little gems that few people know about. Those places are meant to be savored. In addition to that there are countless memories and valuable lessons for the kids. Truth be told, not every memory is a happy one. There have been meltdowns, we have been eaten alive by mosquitoes, there’s been yelling, there’s the time I drove white knuckled from Portland to Seattle in a complete downpour. But the good stuff stuff, those sweet moments of pure ecstasy where the kids get along without any encouragement from me, the exhilaration of conquering a challenge in the outdoors, and the tears I feel prickling at the back of my eyes when I see a landscape bathed in beauty, well those moments far outweigh the bad. The kids develop a more personal relationship with the United States as well. What a better way to learn geography than to live it via the open road? Why learn about other cultures in the US when you can interact with them and possibly learn from them? I don’t want my kids thinking the rest of the country is like California because it’s not.
Hopefully I am able to encourage some of you to take the plunge and hit the open road. It doesn’t have to be a big trip, you just have to create some priceless memories along the way.
Next week I will be sharing “How I Prepare for My Road Trip”. This will detail how I research our route and lodging, and what the build up is to our road trips including lists and gear.