I am a true believer in the power of road trips.
There is a liberating feeling that comes with loading up the car and getting out on the open road. You get an amazing sense of freedom. It gives you the chance to pop the daily routine bubble and allow life to show you how great it really is.
Road-tripping is one thing. What I enjoy more is road-tripping alone with my daughter. No husband. No friends. Just us. It’s an experience every parent should have with their child.
I took a two-week road trip with my 11-year-old through the American Mid-West. Yes, you read that correctly. I purposefully road-tripped for two weeks with my pre-teen daughter. Crazy? Maybe.
But I knew as a mother, the days of hanging out with my daughter were limited. Soon, I’d be tossed aside for the girlfriends, and then the boyfriends.
Part of the issue was my job. I was working a corporate job where my hours averaged 70 + hour a week. Burning the candle at both ends, I was mentally and physically exhausted. Time with my daughter had become simple moments, mere snippets in time.
Travel has always been my escape. It’s the thing one thing that balances me. So, a road trip seemed like the best solution.
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After taking this road trip, I realized what I thought to be reality was not reality at all.
Reality was not status reports I had to squeeze into my already packed to-do list. It wasn’t how to sugar-coat a proposal in order to convince someone to actually do the right thing. It wasn’t figuring out the best communication plan so that I could advance my career.
Protecting my daughter from a sudden sandstorm in the middle of White Sands National Park.
Listening to my daughter’s hysterical laughter when a donkey stuck its head in our car window, as she tried to take its picture.
The look on my daughter’s face when we were convinced there was a ghost in our room at the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs Arkansas.
Those were the moments of reality I was missing.
I had to wonder: If I realized it here on this roadtrip, what was I missing out on at home?
We travelled through 11 states in 13 days driving over 3000 miles (4800km). The mantra for our road trip, “Try Something New”, allowed us to experience things we would not normally do. It was enlightening, rejuvenating, and life-changing for both of us.
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This kind of road trip is so different than family travel
It’s the two of you, facing the world and making decisions together. The two of you, free to sing your favourite songs at the top of your lungs without an ounce of self-consciousness.
Your kids get to see you. Not as Mum or as Dad. But you, as an individual.
It doesn’t mean they will respect you any less. In fact, they may respect you more because they see that you are like them, yet not like them at all. That’s a priceless experience.
When we returned home, I planned big changes. The following year, I quit my corporate job and explored my passions in writing and photography. I spent time with my daughter, attending her school events, helping with homework. Hanging out with her – at home.
My daughter is now sixteen and we have a great relationship. After our Mid-West adventure, we have committed to a road trip every year. We’re now (re)discovering Australia together.
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I believe that if you travel far enough, you’ll find yourself. Sometimes it’s a lengthy round the world adventure, other times its road trip with your child to realize that life is too short to simply exist.