Matt and I had so much fun reminiscing recently about the family road trips we took as kids. Remember when there were no cell phones, no GPS, no Wi-Fi and no streaming while driving down the road? Or, when our parents were chain smoking with a cooler or roadies in the front seats and we were climbing back and forth between rows one and three in our Ford and Buick Wagons (Matt and I have similar memories!) And how is this for class? I still remember my father handing my brothers a coffee can because we weren’t stopping unless my mom had to use the rest stop! It’s so funny thinking about it now... Matt even created a mug that spoke to the sentiment “I’m not stopping, we’re making good time!” Meanwhile, we were choking on smoke and fumes from the exhaust - it’s amazing that we all survived those years - no seat belts either … but we wouldn’t trade those memories for anything.
Today, traveling with family is a bit more civilized. Siblings don’t even have to speak to one another if they don’t want to; they put their ear buds on, and away they go to enjoy their own private thoughts. I guess I wouldn’t have needed to listen to my dad blasting WOR710 am or the WFAN am (New York) while he tried to drown “the noise” out that my brothers and I were making in the backseat. My dad had no patience for backseat banter-- the whole thing makes me laugh thinking about him now. It’s funny, because when I was working at News America Marketing, I used to occasionally drive into Manhattan to our parent company’s offices (News Corp./Fox News building) and during those trips I would always find myself listening to the very same channel as my dad- WOR710 to get my morning news and traffic reports; the irony is I despised talk radio as a kid. Technology has certainly changed everything for today’s kids. My kids had VCR tapes to watch movies in the back seats of our minivans, and now there’s ipads, smart phones with hotspots, and WIFI in many cars- making travel so much more tolerable...
Traveling doesn’t have to be luxurious to be memorable or meaningful. I can recall a trip in the summer of 1976 with my grandparents and my cousin Francine; we drove from San Francisco to Vancouver. We stopped in Virginia City, NV and lots of small towns along the way. I can remember dressing up in one of those photo booths in Carson City and watching the wild west shootouts in the streets. Sure, there were arguments on that trip; I recall Grandpa Casey saying “Grandma can’t read a map properly”, but we pushed forward and everyone got over it. There was a bee that stung one of us on the back seat while we were playing with our toys on the floor of our Buick Lesabre, the amazingly hot temps of 114 degrees in the greater Vacaville California area (we had no air conditioning), the meadows full of flowers, and the smell of the giant redwoods as we headed north on our journey. I remember what we were doing and what we were feeling as much as what we saw. Kids remember - they might just remember the little things.
At Piper and Dune we want you to share special moments with your family and friends too. Here’s some tips for ways to help your children remember their family trips as well:*
- Choose a Destination Together
If your child comes home with a travel idea, explore it. Maybe it is possible, maybe it isn’t. But the more involved they are in the trip planning, the more likely they are to connect long term with the experience.
- Give Kids a Camera and a Journal
Giving your child a camera or an old smartphone and letting him or her document the trip as they see it will help them stay present and engaged during your travels. When you return, print out those photos so your kid can see them, touch them and treasure them.
- Learn About the Destination Before You Go (check out our travel collection at piperanddune.com, we have lots of different maps and travel directories for New England travel, hikes and more)
- Study the Language Together
You don’t have to speak French to go to France, but it sure is a lot more fun if you learn at least a few words and phrases. These days, translation tools are the easy way out, but use a family-friendly language app like Doulingo before you go to learn words together.
- Try to Leave the Resort
Exploring off road or in towns will likely be your most memorable moments!
- Start a Vacation Tradition
It can be simple. Our family must use an old-school map and visually look where we are traveling together. We also bless ourselves and say the “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” before take off and landing. I even ask them as young adults if they remember to do it when they are traveling alone :) The point is to weave a little tradition into your trips, it will help each individual vacation feel like part of one longer, related journey as opposed to multiple one-off experiences.
- Find Ways to Give Back
Voluntourism is a real thing, but with kids, it may not always make sense to spend time together working in a disaster zone. But you and your kids can always find ways to give back - perhaps when they return home, they may have found a new cause from their travels.
- Encourage Interaction With Local Kids
Just as your trip may become more memorable over a good conversation with a local resident at a cafe or bar, your child’s trip may become more memorable with interaction. While not the exact sentiment, I can remember being in Acapulco as a teen or young adult and my mom had me practice my spanish with the children selling chicklets (gum) on the corner of the streets. I learned about their tough lives and later tried to help them.
- Remember That It’s About Being Together
What happens if your family doesn’t learn a language, make a scrapbook or go far off the beaten path? Trust me, your trip isn’t doomed for the non-memorable category. On a family vacation, what truly matters more than anything else is creating good times together and, thankfully, that’s pretty easy. Kids, like adults, remember things that are out of the ordinary.
Finally, you may find these travel apps helpful as you plan your next trip. I’m going to give a few of them a try myself ...
Whatever you decide, wherever you go, we hope you smile and pass along the good vibes!
Explore What Excites You!
Chris and The Piper and Dune Family
Please help honor our dear friend Griffin’s legacy… SHOP this Saturday May 22 on-line or in-store!