My name is Terri. My husband, Scott, and I have been married for 20 years and have 5 littles (well, not so much littles anymore -which leads us to the reason for our vacation of a lifetime). We have always enjoyed traveling and before we had children, we traveled through 23 countries on 4 continents. We have enjoyed traveling to experience new cultures and foods, to see some of the world’s most beautiful places, to relax, and just to get away.
We wanted to be able to pass this love of travel to our children…and have traveled to many different locations with them. They are seasoned car travelers having vacationed by car as far south as Florida, east as Massachusetts, West as Yellowstone, and North as Canada. And having written that, there are still have so many places we want to show them. Hence, the reason for this trip. Our oldest is a teenager, we have only a few more years that he will live with us and then he will be grown. He’ll be an adult and it will be that much more difficult to coordinate schedules and plan extended vacations together, so this was our solution.
We planned a once-in-a-lifetime vacation to see as many of the landmarks, and as much of the beauty, and culture that we can in one trip. A trip to spend time together, grow as a family, share our love of travel, and mostly make memories of a lifetime. So to celebrate that 20-year mark, we chose summer 2014 which also just happens to be the summer before our Joe enters high school, our Luke enters Junior High, our Lily enters 5th grade, our Dax enters first grade and our baby, Miss Grace, goes to Kindergarten. So many milestones, and a perfect summer to make some perfect (and I am sure some not so perfect) memories.
When we started the planning just about 2 years ago, we had many questions – Do we do this? Can we do this? How? When? Where should we go?
Actually the first few we surprisingly easy to answer. Of course, we should do this, how can we not. Our kids are growing so fast (not actually any faster than any other children but it just seems crazy that we have a teenager). We have 5 years until he is an ADULT?!! What? 5 years.That is it. We have so much to show them, so much to do with them. We should definitely do this.
Can we do this?
How? We needed two major things to fall into place in order for all the others to even be a possibility. Time and money. Time was easy for all but one of us. The five kids have summers off school and as a stay-at-home mom I am lucky as that “stay-at-home” part is not required. I could actually be just as effective and probably a lot more fun as a “travel around on vacation mom”. So, we mostly just needed to see if this was a possibility for Scott at work. As he has been with the same company for his entire career, and as he is a valued employee, and as he has an awesome boss/CEO, he was allowed 8 weeks for this opportunity.
Now for the money. We were able to use some savings we have set for the future. The actuality is that our children are our future (I know that thanks to Whitney Houston) but really, Scott and I are the most responsible and most vanilla people I know so to go on one wild adventure with the kids for a summer was apparently our midlife crisis. (Far better than some other midlife crisis expenses – LOL)
When? 2014 – All of the kids are old enough to enjoy it and remember it, none of the kids are too old that they have other schedules or jobs, or would rather not be with their family (well, hopefully not).
Where should we go? This one we struggled with for a long while. We should take the ultimate road trip. We should pick two or three places in the US and explore those. Or maybe, with the time and money involved, we should go to Europe; so much culture and history.
But there are so many places we haven’t seen in the US. But Paris and Rome. But the Pacific Northwest and Washington DC. But Venice and the Riviera. But The PCH and NYC. The language – both as a positive and a negative. The driving time for a road trip. The flying expense to get to Europe. It came down to the cost and the amount of time we would have to cut in order to fund that initial flight cost for 7 people across the Atlantic.
So, the US it is. Ultimate Road Trip 2014!
Fast forward more than a year and there we were. We were ready to leave on an adventure that had been 2 years (and a lifetime) in the making. I was excited and anxious with a good amount of terrified thrown in the mix too. We reversed our itinerary and pre-planned a bit more than we had initially wanted but found that our ability to pull over to any random roadside motel was severely hindered by the need of finding a room that will sleep 7 people that is also in our price range. We managed to book almost every sleeping arrangement that is known to mankind – having reservations in such varied locations like hotels, cabins, rental homes, resorts, a ship, campgrounds (at which we will be camping -IN TENTS), relatives’ homes, and beaches.
We managed to pack for a family of 7 for an entire summer -IN A VAN- that includes not just summer but snow in the mountains in the first few states we are visiting. We have everything from summer beachwear to winter stocking caps. Scott just loaded the car top carrier this evening – the piles of sleeping bags, pillows, blankets, a tent, some chairs, and whatever other miscellaneous camping needs grew into quite the mound on top of the van – so much so that one of the neighbors was certain that the top would not fit.
My brilliant engineer husband not only got that to fit but also managed to puzzle in a few extra things that we just could not manage without as the children persuaded us that they needed scooters (times 5), roller skates, a guitar, and a violin. I am not altogether sure whether it makes me an awful parent or not but at that moment I was thrilled that the trombone player is not so enthusiastic about his instrument.
We planned 8 weeks away during which time we drove the perimeter of the US, visiting 30 states and 20 national parks. Visiting as far north as the Canada border near Glacier Park and as far south as near the Mexican border in both TX and CA. And seeing both oceans – from sea to shining sea.