Get Your Teen Magazine in your inbox! Sign Up
Logo
Get Print Edition

5 Lessons I Learned from Traveling With My Family

In 2014, our family made the decision to stop the madness that was our daily life and travel by motorhome around the USA for seven months. Even though we’ve been back to reality for a few years now, our journey not only gave us family memories for a lifetime but also taught us many life lessons that sustain us today.

Lessons From Traveling With My Family

1. We need to always find time for the family.

We ended up living in an RV for over half a year because we were over-scheduled, our calendars were over-packed, and our family had become disconnected. My husband and I rushed our triplet sons and their younger sister around to their organized activities and then sat separately on the sidelines of their lives, cheering them on. There was little space in our lives to gather around the dinner table or to play together as a family.

As soon as we returned home from our epic adventure, our teens jumped back into their organized activities and rejoined their sports team rosters. The difference is, we have learned how to balance our time better.

We now claim Sunday as family day. We purposely put the screens away and Spend time relaxing at home, attending church, or playing outdoors. We regularly carve out time to serve in our community together and to seek out local adventures.

2. We need to prioritize the people in our lives.

One of the focuses of our trip across the USA was to reconnect with friends and family around the country. From Whitefish, Montana to Louisville, Kentucky, we had a great time visiting with childhood friends, cousins and other family members.

At the end of our lives, it won’t matter what grades were on our sons’ report cards or how many soccer tournaments our daughter won. We will remember the people who chose to invest in our lives and spend quality time with us. That is where we need to focus our time and energies—on people instead of On our resumes.

We now travel to be with family members on holidays, and we welcome more people to visit us in our home.

3. We can choose not to stress over life’s frustrations.

Living in a motorhome with five other humans can drive you crazy—but it can also teach you to relax and enjoy what comes your way.

I learned the importance of flexibility on the first day of our trip when our RV overheated. We were traveling through the mountains of northern Arizona and had to pull over to the side of the highway frequently. When we arrived at Lake Powell hours behind schedule, the kids tore off on their bikes through the campground only to return minutes later with popped tires from riding through the desert terrain. Our new camping grill failed to work, and our towed Buick Enclave wouldn’t start. I had the choice to fall apart on the first day or grin and bear it, knowing the latter was the better option.

Because of all the mishaps we encountered along that journey, I have learned to take life’s frustrations in stride. I’m better at relaxing when things don’t go as planned in our family, knowing that this too shall pass.

4. We need to disconnect so we can reconnect.

On our RV sabbatical, our 13-year-old triplet sons and 11-year-old daughter didn’t have cell phones yet, and their iPads only worked with a strong Wifi signal. Which meant our remote camping locales often meant going without technology.

When we can’t connect to the internet, we’re forced to communicate with one another—which is a good thing! When we returned from our trip, my husband and I knew we wanted our kids to continue to have tech-free time in their lives, so we have chosen to send them to sleep away camp in Missouri a few weeks each summer so they can unplug and unwind.

Our family also purposely takes summer road trips to places that make it difficult to connect to anything other than one another. (Shh… the kids don’t know that.)

5. We can be brave in making choices that are right for our family.

Deciding to quit our jobs, rent our house, and pull the kids out of sixth and seventh grade in order to travel around the USA was a bold idea that we found the courage to turn into reality. What I’ve learned from that decision is that there will be consequences to the courageous, but meaningful choices, we make in our lives.

Our kids still struggle a bit with some math concepts that I failed to teach them on the road.

During our trip, my husband decided that he wasn’t going to take another hockey coaching job until the kids went away to college. His choice to stay home has meant many adjustments to our everyday living.

Our daughter made a tough decision to miss her state cup soccer tournament. Instead, she decided to travel to Texas to make memories with her summer camp friends in their hometown. Making the choice to invest in her friendships was the right thing for her, but that doesn’t mean her decision was without consequence.

For more travel articles, try this one:

While traveling around the country in an RV may not be a realistic or desirable adventure for everyone, I’m grateful we had the opportunity to learn these life lessons and reclaim our family narrative.

Amy Carney

Amy Carney writes at ParentonPurpose.com and her work is published at a variety of online and print publications. She is also the author of Parent on Purpose: A Courageous Approach to Raising Children in a Complicated World.