Maybe it’s juggling multiple little people, maybe it’s my own anxiety, maybe it’s a healthy mix of both– whatever it is– I will sheepishly confess to you guys, that the cold-hard-truth is, when it comes to traveling (anywhere!) with my crew in tow, I’m not exactly the most spontaneous person in the world.
Don’t get me wrong. I love traveling as a family, but I’m a planner. I like knowing what to expect and the comfort of feeling I’m prepared for anything the kids may throw our way.
And I’m painfully aware that at times it holds us back..
For probably about 5 years now, spending a weekend soaking in all of the fall foliage goodness in the New England area has been on my proverbial list. But with both the foliage and our social calendars peaking simultaneously every year, the stars never seemed to align for us.
Last Tuesday, on the way to pre-k drop off, I drove down a gorgeous canopy tree lined road, and it hit me– another season was passing by, and we were missing it– again! I looked at the calendar and with James heading to LA for work, the weekend ahead was looking like the last October weekend we had “free”– but it was just me and the kids.
I don’t know what came over me, but I called my mother and said, “I know this sounds crazy… but… let’s take a roadtrip to Boston… this weekend!!”
Fast forward a few minutes and I was researching hotels, scenic roads and places to bring the kids –because if there’s one thing Carol of Girl Gone Travel has taught me, it’s that being spontaneous doesn’t necessarily mean not having at least a rough outline of options.
I learned a couple of other important lessons relatively quickly in both the planning process and the road trip itself.
Lesson one: There was NO way I was going to fit in everything I wanted to– and that was ok!
The Boston area has a ridiculous amount of things to do– so much history, shopping, restaurants– and lots of options for kids too. It was easy to lose sight of the fact that it was the foliage that led us on the trip on the first place. We could always come back to see a lot of the other stuff.
Lesson two: Spontaneous adventures are built on flexibility.
When looking for a hotel, I learned that weekend was the Head Of Charles Regatta– an annual rowing event that takes place on the Charles River between Boston and Cambridge– which meant hotel availability was scarce and the city was extra busy
So I found the awesome site, Furkot and began planning our “Plan B” adventure– which now included a stop in Mystic Connecticut, the basketball hall of fame, a hike through a the Rockhouse Reservation– and only a quick stop in the actual city of Boston.
Lesson three: My kids are a lot more go-with-the-flow than I give them credit for.
The picture above was taken at a scenic overlook we spied out the window. The kids were so excited to race down to the water and check it out.
From the moment I announced we were going on a road trip, my kids were totally game. I have a tendency to focus on all that can go wrong in trying to keep everyone happy on the road, but truthfully? They were pretty content with their iPads, snacks and checking out the sights. I cannot say that the trip was without the occasional toddler protest, tween-age angst, sibling bickering or even my own overwhelm– it was tooootally sprinkled with all those things, but the kids truly enjoyed everywhere we went and everything we did along the way– from hiking to boat-making at the Seaport.
Lesson four: Social media can wait.
I love live-sharing when we travel, but being in the “driver’s seat” (both figuratively and literally) this time around didn’t really allow me to do that the way I normally do– and my experience was all the better for it. I was fully “IN” the moment, and it made me realize how not rushing to share photos allowed me to appreciate and enjoy the moments themselves, and the time with my family even more.
Lesson five: Though traveling with our complete family unit is always ideal, having an a different kind of adventure can be good for the soul.
We missed James beyond words (I lost track of how many times Avery asked for him). He is usually the compass in our family adventures, and when it comes to juggling the kids, we are truly the definition of a team to our core– but this trip reminded me that I can travel with the kids independently.
It was also a quality of bonding time we don’t often get to experience with my mom– spending that time with her, in itself is a memory that will last us a lifetime.
And unexpectedly, the best part of it all was coming home to James, sitting around the table, eating late night pizza and one by one filling him in on our crazy adventure.
I still have SO much to share, specifics about our trip and TONS of photos. I’ll be breaking up it all up into into several posts over the next week and will update this post below with the links.
Thank you to Toyota for providing us with a smooth ride in their Highlander SUV!