There’s a lot to be learned from road tripping with your family. When a group of people who know each other too well agree to sleep in parking lots, liaise in trailer parks, exercise in Walmart isles and fight over shot gun in an RV for four weeks, you may find yourself unearthing truths about life you thought you’d already figured out. Keep reading to find out what it’s like to road trip across the country with your family and for some transferrable life lessons.
1. Take Risks
It was getting dark one evening and we still hadn’t made it even remotely close to the trailer park we were aiming for so, to my horror, we snuck into the closing Grand Canyon National Park and set up camp on the lip of the Grand Canyon. That night we slept under stars and watched the sun rise over the Canyon’s peaks. If it hadn’t been for my family that day I probably would have unquestioningly avoided the park, as we hadn’t paid. It’s priceless memories like that that serve well to remind you that sometimes it’s okay to bend the rules a little bit and take risks.
2. But Not Too Many Risks!
When you’re road tripping with a bunch of people who have a knack for bouncing literally the worst ideas off each other, you may find yourself in uncomfortable situations at times. When we found ourselves lost one night and miles from our destination we decided to make camp on the roadside, blissfully ignorant to the fact that our exact location was a human and drug trafficking hotspot for the Mexican Cartel, used only hours before. It became a bit clearer however when we were awoken by armed men with a torches in our faces. The perils of stranger danger sank in with some more than others though apparently, as shortly after we found ourselves following these men to their very secluded plot of land, secured with gates and tall mesh fences to finish the night. Although they ended up being super nice, I personally don’t think I would take that risk again.
3. Your Own Space Is Important
When you’re road tripping, it’s so important to make time for yourself and take a break from everything every now and then. When you’re spending 24/7 with your family in a space that doesn’t even touch the ground, it’s easy to lose sight of why you’re tolerating such invasive and audacious people. But be it putting on your headphones whilst you wander around the city or curling up in a cafe with your favourite book, absorbing new places on your own frequency is an integral part of your personal development as a traveller and for recharging your batteries.
4. Moments Are Fleeting
It’s easy to get bogged down by the mundanities of day to day life, but these are the memories that you can pick out from the ordinary. When the stresses and pressures of everyday life don’t apply and you’re together as a family, savour those moments! These opportunities don’t come around as frequently as life speeds up; siblings grow up, people move away, money is transient and/or one day, there may be just too many of you to fit in an RV. What I’m basically trying to say is that moments are fleeting. It shouldn’t take a road trip to make you realise how important family is but it may help you realise you could appreciate them a little more sometimes. So seize opportunities to spend time together whenever you can, and enjoy.
5. So Unplug Yourself And Tune In
I think this can be said for any of us, really. We’re all guilty of looking at life through a screen too much at one point or another. It’s kind of like what I said before, moments are fleeting and the same one wont ever come round twice. In the majority of cases, life back at home can wait, and you’re not going to remember the memes you may have scrolled past that day or who you spoke to. You wont be missing out on anything if you put down your phone for a while and really tune in to what’s going on around you. I lost my phone on this road trip and it definitely made me realise that I should have been more disconnected from it in the first place. Some memories just cannot be done justice through a screen.
So there you have it. The secret is not to take life too seriously and to be present. Embrace your family and put your differences aside now, not later. Seize the moment and appreciate the time you have together. That’s what I did and that’s why memories of that summer road tripping with my family will always be amongst my fondest.