3 years ago, we were those people who never took their kids anywhere that wasn’t kid friendly. We avoided grocery stores, malls, and restaurants like the plague. Anywhere we needed to keep them quiet was out of the picture. Anywhere that didn’t have a playground was out the picture. Anywhere where everyone wouldn’t have kids, was out of the picture. The bottom line was we weren’t comfortable having 4 kids. We were used to having two. And now, after having twins, everything was different.
This was a problem for us. We loved to travel. We loved to go out, experience new things and meet new people. We were naïve, I guess, to exactly what life would be like, adding 2 new children to the family at one time. Personally, I felt like we were back at square one. Then I realized, if we planned to take our kids on an extended travel adventure someday, we would need to plan and prepare to an extreme we hadn’t before. We need to get comfortable going out, being out and staying out.
By Going Out, Being Out & Staying Out, our family was able to prepare for full-time travel.
Step #1 Going Out
Something as simple sounding, as being comfortable with your family, wasn’t really all that simple for us. We had much anxiety associated with even the thought of taking everyone into a store or restaurant. We knew that wasn’t going to fly, especially if we wanted to travel. We were a ‘bigger’ family and we needed to embrace it. We made it our goal to get comfortable with the dynamics of our family, so that’s what we did.
We started prepping ourselves and the kids before going on mini adventures. This included talks about behavior inside the grocery store, role playing how to walk on one side of the aisles, and reminding them how to respond to usual questions and basic chit chat.
Next on our list was to actually test the waters. We started with quick trips inside the grocery store. Walks around the Farmer’s Market. Craft Shows. The Bank. The Post Office. We basically took them everywhere we went as long as we were only going for a short period of time. Starting with quick trips anywhere and everywhere with travel times of up to 2 hours and actual time spent inside under 60 minutes. This allowed us to get everyone used to traveling to a destination and saving enough good behavior to accompany them inside. As we mastered these, we progressed by adding time to travel and inside.
Step #2 Being Out
Now that we were comfy, going on mini adventures locally and sometimes venturing further out were a walk in the park. The kids knew what we expected and we felt good about extending our travels. For us this meant driving to a neighboring state. Taking a trip to Grandma’s house, estimated at 6 hours would be our trial run.
We packed clothing, and necessities for everyone and packed out our trunk and overhead storage area. We organized activity bins, inside the car with crayons, coloring books, favorite toys, word searches, and some travel versions of popular games. Keeping the kids busy and avoiding bickering were our main two concerns. And while we managed to keep it to a minimum, I wouldn’t dare say there was none.
Many stops were required for bathroom breaks. Even more were threaten, with the infamous words ‘don’t make me pull this car over’. But overall, the trip was… doable. We were moving in the right direction and at least we had the first one under our belt. “A few more times and we should have this travel thing in the bag!” Those were literally my thoughts, and I can honestly say I was right.
After many more trips, estimating about 6-8 hours each, we loved being on the road. I could actually have a conversation, a little choppy I’ll admit, with my husband while the kids entertained themselves in the back. Bathroom breaks were merged with gas stops, making the trips shorter. Noise levels were kept pretty low, for us at least. And family fun like singing, clapping games, I spy and sightseeing became memorable moments, instead of life savers.
Step #3 Staying Out
The last step is by far the hardest. We’ve planned, prepped and managed to take multiple practice trips to get the kids ready for extended travel, but now we had to really do it. Muster the courage to really put the hard work and planning into play. It’s that moment when you realize you have to ‘Go Big or Go Home’. This was the moment that will separated dreams from reality.
It may seem intimidating at first, I know that’s how it felt for us. Personally, I didn’t care how much planning I had done, or how much preparing myself and the family we had completed. I felt unprepared. I felt like failure was certain to quickly make an appearance. If, we started to travel, leaving everything behind, what would we do if we didn’t like it? What would we do if we wanted to turn back?
With so many questions to situations that hadn’t yet presented themselves, we decided to just do it! Bought the RV, renovated it, moved in and set sail for our maiden voyage of perpetual travels. The planning and prep work proved to be continuous after taking the big step. But by pushing that apprehension to the rear and taking a lead of faith, we realized this was something we loved. The road hasn’t always been smooth but with each and every adventure we love traveling with our children more and more. Pack ‘em up and take off.
Safe Travels & Many Adventures-