Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold in the “Vacation” movie was one of the more memorable comedy films I can remember. Like the Griswold’s, our family has always embraced the “family road trip” and this year we took it to a new level by loading our three teenagers in our 2004 Sienna Minivan, which has over 145,000 miles on it, for our cross country voyage.
My wife did a great job pulling together a wonderful itinerary by having us drive to Jackson Hole and the Grand Tetons, followed by a few days in Yellowstone National Park and then to Custer ( Black Hills National Park) before heading home 9 days later.
My three kids are now all teenagers, they have their own ideas about what they want to do on vacation. Getting out of the minivan to take in the beautiful mountain views got old after about three or four times within a 30 minute time frame, much to my wife’s (Soni) chagrin. I can still hear Soni saying, “you kids are missing out,” “you’ll never see anything like this again,” or “I can’t believe you don’t want to see this” yada, yada, yada…
Should it be a surprise that our kids don’t have the same perspective as their parent’s who have never seen such beauty in their 50 years of life?
The key to a successful family vacation like anything else is good planning and managing expectations. We selected a destination where none of us had been before, planned activities that we all wanted to do, but also realized during our vacation, it was important to leave some free time so the kids could do their own thing while Soni and I went for a hike.
We drove 3,900 miles, yes, you read that correctly – three thousand nine hundred miles. We were together 24/7 and almost on top of each other when staying in the small rustic cabins. That is a LOT of family time, but the sights were breathtaking and definitely well worth the drive.
When asked what their favorite parts of the trip were, they said:
- Whitewater rafting
- Zip lining
- Going up via gondola to the top of Grand Teton Mountain
- Seeing wild animals
- Mt. Rushmore
- Jewel Cave – 3rd largest in world – went 370 feet down into it
My favorite part was being with my wife and kids for more hours than we had been all together all year. It is for that reason why I love going on road trips with my family.