School vacations often mean a lot of time spent in the car, train, or airplane. Besides your legs and back cramping and essentially being of no use 75% of the time, your brain and mindset also get sluggish and tired. Imagine what kids, who have abundantly more energy than us adults, feel and think about their lack of exercise and movement! Logically, we know that they are no more enjoying the long, busy treks yet in the heat of it all, we get even more frustrated and develop a “get there soon as possible” attitude. It is kind of sad in some ways-sometimes the fun is in the journey, even with small children. There is a lot of value in making a long trip a fun, educational, and bonding experience. It may not be easy, but having a new perspective and some fresh ideas can give us that reassurance that we can make it and find some joy (even in a long car ride).
One of my dreams is to take a trip to all the National Parks. There are over 59 of them, and with the National Park Service celebrating their centennial, now is an excellent time to stop at one if you happen to be traveling within a near route of one. You can introduce your young yogis to the breathtaking scenery, the unique flora and fauna, and you can share your revelry in the awe-inspiring reality of the coast, mountains, or geysers. Witnessing Nature in its authenticity can be a spiritual experience and one that your kids will remember for a long time. While you are there, stretch your legs and stand tall as the mountain that is right in front of you! Pretend to be a tree or an eagle. Use Nature as your inspiration for a quick yoga session!
An oft forgotten place and one that earns me some serious ridicule (but which I still stand by) is Welcome Centers. If you will be passing through multiple states, you can stop for your essential needs like food and bathroom, but you can also pick up brochures and coupons for local businesses. At some, they even have cozy rooms where you can chat with residents and get personal recommendations so you can get to know the area better. Kids love chatting and sharing their road trip details! And, as mentioned above, local shops and restaurants (especially ones that are famous!) are always a treat. Supporting small businesses and experiencing their unique products and services is delightful and often the highlight of our trips! That feeling of camaraderie and community is amazing, and knowing that when we stop for some respite we will be connecting with other people makes the trip so special.
Museums are great places to stop as well. They often take a while to get through, they have all of the necessary facilities, and most importantly, they are educational and fun! There are a ton of museums throughout the nation ranging from local history, to art, to science, to the more esoteric. They really allow kids to explore, question, and discover. Even better, some even have shops and freebies so that you can continue the discussion and fun while traveling!
Lastly, coloring books, invisible ink books, 3d puzzles, Rubik’s cubes, meditation apps, audiobooks, etc. all make excellent travel companions. You can shake it up and pack a special bag or box that the kids have never seen and let them open it the day of the trip. Or space out the goodies and give kids a new one every couple of hours. Between the novelty and the variety, you should be able to maintain peace for at least a few hours!