Enjoy the Ride

At the dinner table this evening, I was asking the children (I have four, ranging in ages from 11 to 18) what they liked best about traveling. I was thinking of writing a blog article about how to travel with kids. But as we talked about our experiences over our baked ziti and bread and butter, it became clear that the children enjoyed our adventures during the car trip more than the distractions to make the trip bearable. In a nutshell, I guess you could say we enjoy the ride.

They had some good ideas. Of course, being older (and more articulate), they are beyond the bingo games and sing-a-longs that make younger children happy. My youngest would still love a van with a built-in DVD player, but the others offered some sage advice. I’ll share them with you, because I thought they were very open and frank with their thoughts.

1. Take the scenic route.

This ranked number one among them all. They hate taking the highways and thruways, even if it means we will arrive at our destination sooner. Why have misery all the way to your destination and then all the way back home from it, just to save time? Enjoy the ride!

As New York travelers, we have the advantage of day-long car trips and beautiful scenery. We’ve had our share of I-90 road trips, and the trip is never as much fun as the trip we had when we took local routes like Route 5 or Route 20 or Route 8 or even the out-of-the-way local roads. Improvise a little. Make stops along the way, go to a grocery store and talk with the locals, or do your homework and find some local oddity in town to see before reaching your “big” destination.

2. Interact with the passengers.

My husband and I like talk radio (well, my husband loves it). We could have it running the whole trip. But the kids hate it. This makes sense, since half the time they don’t understand what the radio host is talking about. They’re kids. Who the heck is Bill O’Reilly to them?

My children want us to interact with them. They love conversation and stories. So hubby and I try to keep the car trip lively by informing the kids of all our youthful foibles, to their great delight! I also try to research the site we are visiting, and give a short history lesson before we get there. This adds a great deal of depth and appreciation to the site we visit. It also impresses the tour guides with our great knowledge. 😉

I believe children- for all their groanings and complaints– truly desire their parents’ input. Mine certainly do, and aren’t afraid to let us know. Traveling in the car for long distances, where else can parents find such a captive audience? We mostly discuss the Bible, history, family life, philosophy, and current events. Find out what interests your child, but also teach the child some new things. Travel is really the perfect time to bond closer together and learn more about each other. It especially helps if you have a talkative group, as do we.

3. Bring along audio books for quiet times.

When you are tired of talking (or listening), an audio book works wonders. We have the Bible on tape, and several CDs of sermons from ministers, which are wonderful for quiet thoughts on the road. I rarely play music, and I never play heavy rock music, because those are distractions that work against reflection and conversation, I believe. Travel should be more than just a means to an end. Traveling to the destination is 90% of the journey, and I want it to be filled with convivial depth, not anarchistic distractions.

So there are my kids’ ideas. Nothing against Uno or sing-a-longs or hand-held computer games, as everything has its place I suppose. But keep in mind that the journey is half the fun, and children are as happy with simple things as complicated things. I will take that a little further and say that they are happiest when they are involved with the parents, and when there is unity among the group. This makes the traveling so much more enjoyable.

Enjoy the ride. Enjoy it together!

Photo courtesy of Vintage Clip Art.

About the Author

I've been traveling throughout New York State since I got the travel bug after touring the Herkimer Home on a school field trip as a youngster. We've been blogging about our travels since 2006 and have visited over half of New York's 62 counties so far.

Comments (9)

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  1. Apple says:

    I think you should submit the piece about the boulder to either one of the history carnivals or the Cabinet of Curiosities.

  2. I’d never thought about the carnivals. Thanks, Apple! I did it for both.

  3. I LOVE Boulder, and think it’s great that you are exposing your children to life outside of NYC and to your mode of travel. I agree…always take the scenic route. 😉

  4. Hello, Fallan! Thanks for commenting. Yep, there’s a LOT more to life and travel outside of New York City. I’m living proof. 😉

  5. minnemom says:

    I just found your blog, and I echo a lot of your sentiments. While my four children are younger than yours (ages 2-7), we try to find off-the-beaten-path places to visit, and to enjoy the ride as well. Music and stories on tape get us through tough times, but being in the car together gives us an excellent opportunity to talk to each other without the usual distractions of life.

    Your comment about the scenic route really hits close to home. Having grown up in a family that took “Sunday drives” (mostly to check crops along the way for my farmer dad), I find myself never wanting to go on the same road twice. There’s always something interesting to be found on the back roads.

  6. Hey minnemom! Thanks for visiting. Yep, I think there is a growing movement of “quality” time with the family. And that usually means doing absolutely nothing together. I rather like it. 🙂

  7. Karen says:

    My friend and I were just discussing last night how some kids miss the scenery and playing games because of the dvd’s they watch on trips. It is sad.

  8. […] was dropping my entrecards today and I saw this great post at It’s has great tips for when you travel. I definitely agree with […]

  9. […] I was talking to a friend last evening and we agreed that traveling with children is different than when our children were young. She is gearing up to pack the car and head to Michigan for a week of vacation. They will be taking their canoe and a john boat. We said that so many kids today are used to having a dvd player in the car that they are not used to looking out the window. Parts of our discussion were echoed by Rebecca in her post Enjoy the Ride. […]