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Family Road Trip Update: 14 States and Counting on a Six Month Adventure

Your Teen blogger Leah Weiss Caruso takes her family of five on a six-month cross country family road trip, and discusses family travel, road trip tips, and homeschooling.

Since I last left:

  • We’ve jettisoned 1/3 of our clothing, most of our camping equipment, and half of the gazillion stuffed animals we were stupid enough to let the kids bring.
  • We managed to blow all of the 12V outlets and 2 relays in the car by attempting to cook chili in a crock-pot. While driving.
  • We’ve visited 14 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Homeschooling has been sporadic but is going okay, even if I’m losing my mind.
  • We’re still holding strong onto our electronics policy.

We brought WAY too much clothing. We kept all the underwear and socks, but sent home lots of shirts, pants, and pjs. At first we camped out as often as we could, but now that we’ve gone north and into cold winter again, we’re no longer camping. “Survivor: Caruso Sabbatical” is not a show I’m interested in producing. So home went much of our equipment. Don’t even get me started about the stuffed animals.

The Family Road Trip

Just so you know if you are planning a family road trip, the thingy that plugs into your lighter that is supposed to allow you to plug regular small appliances into your car DOES NOT WORK. You are then forced to explain yourself to the mechanics at a random Honda Dealership in a random city far from your home. At least the chili was good.

We have seen tons of scenery, monuments, synagogues and people. We have loved it. The kids have not loved all of it. They were creeped out by the myriad of Jewish cemeteries we visited in the South, and bored to tears after the umpteenth synagogue tour. However, they have appreciated the varying landscapes and beauty this amazing country has to offer.

They were truly “wowed” by the Grand Canyon (as were we all – WHOA. GO. NOW.). They LOVED New Orleans, Mardi Gras and the French Quarter; they had a blast and ate enough beignets to feed a small country. They’ve loved the various parks and other fun stuff we’ve done, such as movie night in the tent and a tour of the Jelly Belly factory. They have had their moments of wanting to kill each other and us (and, let’s be honest: so have their parents), but overall they are getting along great. A family road trip can be awesome.


Homeschooling, for me, has been the hardest part of this trip. We just cannot seem to keep to a schedule; learning has been irregular and sporadic. The kids also do not want their parents as teachers. There has not been 100% cooperation, and things often get difficult. Which is a euphemism for “we’re all tearing our hair out.” Having said that, I think they are learning. As I give the kids “tests” and worksheets to complete they do so mostly successfully. One or two things have fallen by the wayside, and I need to work on that or their teachers will kill me. I find it difficult to focus on the trip in the way I need to and complete what I need to for their teachers. I am working on it.

We are making good on our rule of no electronics or screens in the car during trips that are less than 5 hours. We’ve listened to every “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell me!” that has been recorded, and the first book of Harry Potter. There is some crabbing about this but tough noogies. They have books and other activities. They are also free to look out the window and be bored. If there is lots of complaining, whining and/or fighting we pull over until they stop. I have been seen putting in earphones and listening to my own stuff until they shut up. This has so far worked.

Ok! More to come!

Leah Weiss Caruso works for JFSA of Cleveland as a teen educator, and is mother to 3 human children and 1 canine child.

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