The Pros and Cons of Traveling – A Kid’s Perspective (Episode 296)
As we've been focused on travel, it was time for another episode with Juliet to get her take on our family adventures! I asked my ten-year-old to share some of her pros and cons of full-time travel, and she came up with some great ones. Not only that, it really highlights that there is always more than one way to look at things - which perspective do you want to focus on?
The Theme of Travel
We've been focused on the theme of travel on the podcast this month, talking about how to travel to the life you don't want to escape from, as well as important questions to ask yourself when you're on the road.
When it comes to getting on the road, it may be you're actually looking at an RV adventure like we have - and if so, I encourage you to check out the 90 Day Family Road Trip as a great DIY course that is less than 3 hours of your time. It is jam-packed with insights into what logistics to address before you hit the road and how to map your trip, as well as focusing on the key element - the family dynamics that can truly make or break your trip.
So what could Jules add? A list of pros and cons of travel, from her own 10-year-old perspective! I asked her to create a list for us to discuss, and this episode above is our unfiltered conversation on what she came up with.
Pro/Con #1 - Friends!
I know this can be a big concern for families. What about socialization on the road? You're in luck - that links to a podcast devoted to just that. Jules shares on the podcast how there are both pros and cons to making friends on the road.
It's easy to look out your window at many campgrounds and find instant playmates. Head to the playground and other community areas and there are often kids up for a game of tag or even just to talk to one another.
Sometimes they are all in vacation-mode, and up for playing with whomever. Sometimes, there are other full-time kids that can connect right away with their understanding of life on the road.
Keep in mind that socialization for your kids (and for you) doesn't have to be age-exclusive. Our girls have had a blast playing with small babies and grandparents alike. While they may look for kids around their age, they also don't hesitate with engaging with anyone who fits "their vibe".
And yes, you'll hear Jules talk about this "vibe" on the podcast. What is the "vibe"? It's kindness. It's looking for the helpers. The ones who are kind, who look out for others, and who look to give back.
We talked about how we better discern who to socialize with not based on their outward appearance or age range, but by observing their actions. Look at the little things:
- Are they making eye contact with others with a smile on their face?
- Are they picking up trash, or throwing litter on the ground?
- Is their body language showing they are open to engaging with others, or are they closed off with arms folded and looking downward?
- Are they doing anything destructive to nature? Or are they clearly showing their respect of it?
These are some of the things we observe before we engage on the road.
While it may be fun to meet new friends, the downside is that the time is typically fleeting. Since we don't often stay in a place for longer than 2 weeks, it doesn't make for a super long friendship. That being said, we share in the podcast about the concept of different friends we gathered from the book, The Wealth of Connection. We shared about 2 minute, 2 week, and 2 year friends.
- 2-minute friends - those are the friends you might enjoy for some small talk and playground fun, but that's about where the commonalities end. We find many great "2-minute" connections along the way, with friendly neighbors camping around that, while we may never see them again, we can enjoy a short stretch of civility and community together.
- 2-week friends - then there are those 2 week ones, where we may even choose to caravan and travel to a campsite to hang for a bit longer, knowing our families jive together enough to be able to flow easy enough for a short bit. These friends may be the ones where you visit for those extended vacations before you're ready for a break and getting back into your own swing of things.
- 2-year friends - these are the tried and true friends who remain a constant in our hearts even when years pass between seeing them. These friends can instantly pick up wherever we left off, and we work hard to keep the communication lines open between seeing one another in person.
She also referenced her grandfather's book, An Understanding Heart, and how there are those 3 am friends - the ones you can call in the middle of the night and you know they have your back.
We recognize there are seasons in life, and some are there for a short seasons, and others, even if you go a long stretch without seeing them, they are your true-blue long term friends where you can pick up right where you left off like no time has passed.
Some of the ways we navigate the cons of saying goodbye to our friends is through the beauty of the online world, and being able to keep in touch virtually. While our girls aren't on social media, they have emails, iMessages and Zoom to text, email and video chat with loved ones across the country whenever we have internet connection, and we prioritize times to just visit with one another virtually.
Pro/Con #2 - New Views!
It can be so fun to have constantly changing scenery. Everytime we set up camp in a new place, Nathan and I say, "it's good to be home" and create our home base in this new environment.
I love the variety and different experiences of living in these different areas and having a new front/back yard to explore. And sometimes they are absolutely epic views. To be able to step out and explore something new and appreciate the hard work of both the people who run the campground as well as nature and the epic views it gives you...it can be a beautiful thing, and we love all of the beautiful places we've landed. I'm grateful for all the changing landscapes and new areas to discover.
Other times, however, not so much. We may be in a campsite that's more of a parking lot, like the one we're sitting in now (yet it has a great cell signal for internet)!
Or we may end up (again, often due to internet) in a bit rougher or more urban area than we're fans of. For us, we long for the quiet of nature much more than city life, so we're typically eager to scoot when we're in a big city. We opt for these shorter stays during the workweek for my Zoom meetings and for us to knock out any errands we need to do.
Additionally, hopping towns all the time means we're constantly learning our way around. Sometimes it can get a bit old, always searching for where things are and trying to find what is off the beaten path and not just the tourist traps.
However, we have ways to combat this for sure. For one thing, we take the time to talk to locals! Any time we're in an area we don't know, yet would like to explore more of, we start talking to the locals - we may find them doing a weekend camping trip in the campgrounds, or maybe at a restaurant or other venue we visit.
And secondly, the more we've traveled, the more areas we have gotten to know. And once we've stayed in a place for 2 weeks or more, we tend to get a good feel for where things are.
We know have some "tried and true" places we know pretty well - and oftentimes when we venture out for travels, we can interlace some of these known areas into our travels for a little bit of downtime where we aren't fully in the unknown. It can help to pack in some ease of something that is known vs. always facing into the new.
Pro/Con #3 - Being All Together!
Ah, she hits the nail on the head with this one! Yes, Juliet hit on a big fear for many families - how in the world can you all live in such a tiny space?
It's pretty awesome to be in a tiny space when you're all getting along. The downtime of just hanging out where people aren't all separate just leads to way more engagement. We've found that we all connect more as a family and even play more with our animals when we're all on top of each other in a tiny space, as there is not place to hide. And, with there being no place to hide, we can't just hold onto our frustrations for long stretches of time, either. We air it out and let it go - it's just way more critical to function when you're in closer quarters like an RV.
On the flipside, like I said, there isn't much space to get away. And when three want to jam to music and two want utter silence, it can be difficult to keep the peace.
One disclaimer here is to recognize that most often full time RVers aren't just living in their rig. The outdoors is an extension of their living quarters. We take breaks outside. If someone needs quiet, sometimes that's just by going outside in nature, or even putting on headphones for a bit.
We look for ways to respect each other's space - even in our tiny homes, we still have a curtain for each child's bed where they can "close the door" and have some privacy and separation. Setting boundaries is important.
Additionally, our family has found great help with journaling and meditation as ways of processing through our thoughts. It's a great practice to look at journaling when you need to work through some thoughts vs. always needing to voice them. And yes, oftentimes better relationships when we can have the discernment of a journal to filter through what's worth saying aloud and what is just a thought you need to process through.
We've found incredible power in knowing each other's personality styles. Knowing what triggers our more reactive behavior, as well as how to motivate each other, really allows us to work together pretty harmoniously.
Pro/Con #4 - Entertainment in the Car
Jules had to throw in this final one, and I love it. When we first started out, we had small children that would only last so long on a travel day. And I came equipped with all kinds of entertainment to get us through it. We'd have snacks, movies, books, drawing, music, etc., etc.
Over time, we've found there is way more with way less.
The great elements of entertainment in the car are the ones that still allow you to see outside. We talked about how a movie can pass the time, for sure, yet oftentimes it meant we were so tuned out from our surroundings we weren't really taking in the epic sights along the way. So here are some great ways we've found entertainment in the car:
- Audio books - we love Audible and listen to a ton of great books on there - it keeps us all engaged while still being able to see the sights.
- Music, of course - it's a great time to go on a musical journey with your kids and even pull up all kinds of different styles - I know we've gone down so many bunny trails of discovery from just one random song we'll listen to.
- Journaling or reading - all the girls will grab a book or journal to read or write for some private time in the car, and/or when the scenery gets a bit monotonous.
There are times entertainment can really be pigeonholed to what you can watch on a screen. We were guilty of this and had constant begging for movies in the car. And on a long car ride, it IS super helpful to pass the time. However, it so decreases our awareness of what all is around. And when it comes to safety, our kids are additional sets of eyes and ears in our home - and their awareness of their surroundings is something we put a high level of importance on, for their own safety.
Have you really looked at the pros and cons of the different aspects of travel?
As you've heard on the podcast above, I love that Juliet had the same things for both pros and cons of travel.
There are so many things in life where we can share more than one perspective. What story are you writing about your life and how it's flowing for you?
How can you celebrate what you're doing as a family? How are you looking at what you can learn and how you can grow from here? How can you explore, connect, listen, respect, learn and love on your adventures?