Family Travels: What I learned on the Longest Road Trip of my Life Young Life

May 16

When you are young and think “summer vacation,” chances are you’re thinking swimming pools, beach days, bike riding, and tons of friends. Well, for my family, they always thought “road trip!” Now, for many people who know me, most these road trips would be spent going up to our cabin in the woods in Montana. However, one summer in particular was spent just traveling to anywhere we could. Although I wasn’t able to attend birthdays, I was able to have perhaps the best summer I’ve had until this day.

The summer after I completed my second grade year (but it could have been my third grade year, so don’t hold that to me—especially if you are my mother or father and reading this!), my parents decided to pack up my sister and I and head to anywhere that seemed like a good time. For my parents, that meant traveling around the U.S. of A. to about 28 different states.

Things You Will Want

Whilst on my venture with the family, I came to find there are things that were rather important to have:

  • Snacks. And an ample amount of them
  • A diary. Back then, it was cool to have a diary. Now, you might want to say journal. However, we all know it’s the same thing.
  • A good book. As the younger sibling of two, I always wanted to be like my sister. So, at about eight (8) years old, Treasure Island was my perfect read. Although, my father is quite the avid reader himself, so I picked up many sci-fi/fantasy books this summer as well.
  • A CD player/walkman. Personally, I only had a $20 CD player at the time that I received as a gift for Christmas. It was my favorite item in the world. I played my Beatles 1 CD constantly. Now, you whipper snappers have your fancy iPods and MP3 players. I can’t say I’m not a little jealous of the technology you have access to on your road trips now.
  • Car games. Stop by the Dollar Store. This is the perfect place to get any little toy you might want. Keep in mind, the more states you visit, the more items you have to choose from. My favorite items this summer were find it board games (i.e. you have two players and cross off items you see) and cards. Also, I played a lot of I Spy with my Little Eye, but you don’t need a board for that!
  • A good pillow, your favorite stuffed animal, and a blanket. Because I had so many stuffed animals as a child, I could only bring one with me. If you can sneak in two, I say go for it.

Of course there are little things you will want yourself to make this road trip more personal. These are just items I always took with me.

Get a Hobby

During a long three (3) months of travels, you will want to have something to look forward to for states you may not be as excited to visit, such as Rhode Island. For me, that was collecting key chains. (No offense, Rhode Islanders. The pineapple key chain I received from one of your hotels is actually one of my favorites!) Every state we traveled through and visited, I bought a memorabilia key chain. Most of these came from gas stations, but for me, that was absolutely perfect. To this day, I still have the giant ring of key chains. They’re sentimental value is much greater than their worth and is always a great conversation piece.


Getting ready for a family road trip can be stressful. Just always remember one thing: take joy in the simple pleasures. Throughout all the cluster of planning and getting everything together, what will really matter in the end are the good moments you had. Let those good times outweigh the bad and have the best vacation you can! “Sometimes, the simple things are more fun and meaningful than all the banquets in the world …” E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly

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