On the Huffington Post today, Millie Kerr faces her impending 30th birthday with a look back on her travels over the years—and specifically on what she calls the “never-ending road trips” that she and her family would take.
Millie’s own memories got me feeling a bit nostalgic, as well as a bit sad.
When I think back to all the “never-ending road trips” that I took with my own family, I can’t help but wonder how the rise in gas prices may be depriving Americans of something they might not even have considered—the epic, memorable family road trip. While the majority of my “adult” traveling life has been engineered by boats and planes, my childhood was peppered with family road trips that included little more than the four or five of us (depending on which family it was), the car, some good books and toys and music, and the open road. We never headed too far—Boston, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and the Jersey Shore were all favorite haunts of ours. But it wasn’t even so much the destination (although don’t get me wrong, those were amazing as well) as it was the journey and the shared experiences that kept us packing it in the car for more every year.
There is something to be said about waking up at the crack of dawn and piling your bags by the trunk of the car in the driveway so that your dad or step-dad could systematically load them in, or sleeping under one blanket with your sisters as your dad or stepdad continues the drive through the night.
There is something to be said about sitting, elbow to elbow, with your sisters in the back seat of the Dodge Caravan or Subaru Outback, verbally sparring for more room, but secretly not minding too much.
There is something to be said about the miles we traveled while writing stories to ourselves in our notebooks, belting out lyrics of songs we listened to over and over again in our Walkmans, and then our Discmans, or looking out the window at the countryside rolling by.
There is something to be said about the pit stops along the way, the fast food you ate that never quite tasted the same when you weren’t on an epic family road trip, or the snacks that your mom and stepmom packed for you for the hours-long ride.
When I think about my future and having kids of my own some day, I’m saddened to wonder if I will be able to afford giving them the same kind of memories. How much money would an epic road trip like the kind we used to take cost now that gas prices are topping out over $4? What will the vacations of my children’s futures look like?
I’m saddened to think I might not be able to give them everything my parents gave me on those bumpy, windy journeys we took years ago—with the windows down and the wind blowing in our faces.
I think they gave us more than they may even know….