Traveling Lighter
Less Stuff, More Memories

“That was SO much fun! We rode the train, made ice cream, saw horses and buggies, played, and did so much. I loved it! Can we go back?”

The words tumbled out of Adam’s mouth barely 10 minutes into the ride home from a few days away together in Lancaster. His response was unprompted and frankly unexpected. And it made the trip worth every moment. Sarah and I made eye contact in the front seat in silence, and I think we both had the same thought, “Total parenting win!”

This trip was our first time with no diapers, no pull-ups, no pack-n-play and barely any usage of the diaper bag (it was in the trunk with mostly coloring books just in case). We had decided to drive out to Lancaster, PA, for a few days and have an adventure with my parents joining us as well (a first for me traveling with my parents in about 30 years, which Sarah didn’t realize when we planned).

The boys each had their own bed (couches that folded out), their own bag and their personalities too. We had our ups and downs of course, but our trip was an adventure. And while we may not be at the point where we can sit on the beach and let the boys play unattended, we are at a point where they can sit quietly for a bit in a restaurant, and they will even try new foods (to some extent). We are at a point where they can entertain themselves in a hotel room for a bit while we all have some down time. And we are at a point where the boys are more excited than afraid by the idea of traveling to a different place to stay away from home. 

Out in Lancaster, seeing the rolling hills and the farmland opened their eyes to how others live. Watching the trains go by while we ate lunch brought smiles, shouts and points to make sure no one missed what was passing us by. A smorgasbord of options to try for food was overwhelming for them at times, and seeing horses draw farm equipment was a curious sight that they had never seen. Breakfast for dinner at a Waffle House was a novelty, and staying up “late” to play games with grandparents and hop between hotel rooms felt to them like rules were being broken.

But the ability to make changes to our plans when life threw us curveballs (like me rolling my ankle) and not having to overthink whether we have the right number of diapers with us or how the rooms are laid out was a relief. We’ve never traveled like this before. And it’s liberating. The idea that we could hop in a car and have our adventure, and stop along the way at a rest stop or big box store and just run in, run out and keep going was like a giant breath of fresh air.

Each day we had plans, but we also had unstructured time and made last-minute decisions about what we wanted to do. And we let the boys express their opinions and have input as well. They helped pick where we ate and where we played and what came next. I think it helped add to the fun. Yes, we rode the train, and we made ice cream (just like Adam said). We also twisted pretzels and fed animals and went to many restaurants. We saw different types of farmers, religions, travel methods and housing. We had conversations together to answer all the questions the boys brought up, and watched the sunset as a family from the playground.

And now we can look forward to more family adventures. We know the boys are growing quickly, and we can see that they are absorbing all they watch and hear. We want to expose them to everything we can while joining along for the fun. People constantly remind us that days truly can be long at times, but the years are short. So I am here for all of the moments that they call out from the backseat and say, “That was the best day ever!” Yes, it was buddy. And yes, we absolutely can go back.


Read More “Making Time” by Jason Springer


June 2024
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