Well, here we are in Florida.
You know that feeling when you get up at 3 am, drive to the airport, sit around waiting, sit around in a plane, sit around eating lots and lots of snacks which may or may not be the best thing for you to be eating, and then you sit around and wait for a rental car, and then you drive around for a little while until you figure out where you’re going, and then you add a round of sushi to the large amount of questionable snacks already consumed that day, and sit around in a car until you finally reach your destination, which makes you feel super happy, and you wonder if MAYBE, possibly…the discomfort of the day was worth reaching the destination?
That’s how we’re feeling right now.
The day went fairly well, all things considered. “All things considered” being that I never actually fell asleep last night before the alarm rang, so I’m super excited about bedtime.
As we went about our day, I’ve been thinking about the joy of the journey.
In all honesty, sometimes the joy was a bit elusive, with the lack of sleep and all, but our family has always tried to enjoy traveling. Not just getting to where we’re going, but traveling.
When I was younger, my family traveled a lot. My dad always made it seem as though packing up the van or the camper and heading off across Canada or the States was an amazing adventure. And my mom provided so many snacks that I still associate “travel” with eating.
So we’d set off, with our plans for adventure, and a lot of snacks, and we’d make memories. My dad always took a ton of pictures, which we would relive once the adventure was over by watching slides. Some of my favorite family times involved all of us gathered together, staring up at the wall as our memories were projected into vibrant color, life-sized and brilliant.
I don’t know which was more fun – the trips or the slideshows! We loved them all.
Until I was in Grade Three, my family traveled with a truck and camper, but that year, my dad decided to buy a large van. There was a bench in the back that folded down into a bed for my parents to sleep on, but for the rest of us, my dad got creative….
He figured out that if my younger sister and I slept on the two front seats, reclined as far as possible, there was room enough for placing a piece of plywood onto the dashboard, supported on the window sills. There was a cutout for the steering wheel to fit into, and all of this worked out to form an interesting type of “bunk bed” for my sister to sleep on, with us two younger girls tucked underneath.
I really wish I had a picture of that, partly because it would be awesome, and partly because I could eliminate that last awkward paragraph, attempting to explain the whole set-up.
I remember waking up to the sound of our van horn, blasting through the quiet campground air as my sister kicked it in her sleep – one of the drawbacks to a bed on the dashboard.
But it worked, and we traveled, and we made memories. We listened to my parents’ music, and they listened to some of ours. We found ways to entertain ourselves for hours as we drove across the country. We fought, and made up, ate sunflower seeds, and survived sketchy bathroom break experiences.
Besides all the memories, we gained another treasure: We learned to enjoy the journey.
We weren’t impatient to get where we were going, because we were always going.
We’d drive, and then we’d stop to go exploring.
We’d drive a bit more, and then we’d get out to go canoeing.
Driving was part of the experience. Travelling was the adventure, not some necessary evil to endure so that we could finally reach our destination.
My friend once said, “I wish there were some way to be unconscious until I reach my destination. I can’t stand traveling – I just want to get there as fast as possible.”
When I heard him say that, it suddenly struck me what a gift my parents had given me which I’d never even noticed: I had learned to find joy in the journey.
They taught me to have fun along the way. We learned to make memories during all parts of the trip – the journey and the getting there.
I want my girls to learn that. I hope that someday they’ll look back, and think getting up at three in the morning was part of the adventure. I hope they’ll remember snacks and sushi, and even waiting in line.
I dream of them being patient as they wait to get where we’re going – able to recognize the anticipation that grows as we wait, and the memories we form when we try to pass the time with goofiness or chatting about life, or whatever.
We bond as we go, not just when we get there.
Ben and I have reached a decision – the next time we come to Florida to visit my parents, we are making it a road trip. Yes, it takes WAY longer than a plane ride, but it will teach our girls some things I want them to remember forever:
Family, memories, and adventures are worth the effort.
Waiting for something makes it better in the end.
Learn to enjoy the journey, not just the destination.
Okay, travel tips, everybody! What do you do to enjoy the journey?