We recently drove to Lake Tahoe for a few days. What a great time we had. I am always amazed how fast kids grow in a year. This is a trip that we do at least once a summer and a couple of times in the winter. The difference from last summer to now is amazing. It’s the little things kids do or learn that mark a new milestone in our lives. For example, this year my kids were doing bungee jumping on trampolines, bouncing, flipping, and basically having a blast. When they did this last year, neither one could do a flip. This year my daughter did a back flip and my son did a triple flip! Also, last year they could swim, but you had to be with them in the pool the whole time. Now, I can just throw them in the pool and sit back with a book (one eye on the page, one on the kids!).

All the new activities are great, but one of the biggest changes was the drive itself because parents also grow year to year. I do not like long trips. I usually become irritable and grumpy during travel. As you can imagine, that does not fit well with antsy kids and often results in my snapping at the kids. Things have been different the last couple of trips; I have been a better traveler. I have learned to practice patience & tolerance and engage the kids. This marks another great milestone.

The drive to Tahoe takes anywhere from three and a half to four hours from our house—more with bad traffic—and that includes a stop or two. This trip, there was far less “are we there yet,“ “how much longer,” etc. I think their age plays a part in this, but I also think that we have become better travelers. Over the years Kerry and I have learned few tricks; a lot of the tricks have come through mistakes. I have shared these tips before, but it is always nice to “practice what you preach” and realize that it really works.  The four keys to this trip’s success were:

1. We fed the kids a good meal before we left the house.

2. We didn’t get upset when they did complain; we redirected their focus.

3. We played a few road games (road sign alphabet, I spy).

4. And we relied yet again on the PSPgo (No, I do not have stock in Sony).

Number two was key on this trip. Kids react to and feed off our energy. If we are frustrated, irritable, grumpy, or any number of things, the kids will feel that and react to it. Instead of the old “I’ll turn this car around” or “if you don’t knock it off I am going to pull over,” Kerry or I would redirect their focus by suggesting a game, or talking about something that we were excited to do on the vacation once we got there; for example, “I can’t wait to skip rocks in the river! What are you excited to do?”

See, I do learn from mistakes. I don’t have to threaten the kids to have a pleasant time traveling; all I need to do is focus on being patient and engaging the kids, and then we can all enjoy the ride!

There is one thing I messed up on; I didn’t pack everything we needed. As you might be able to guess from the picture, we went hiking; without hiking shoes. Yes the master packer forgot them – I’ll just say Kerry distracted me while I was packing. That’s it.

Anyway, a checklist is always good. We are heading out on another long drive to the mountains this weekend. I will make a checklist this time as well as put my new-found skills to the test. Let’s see if I can do it again! Stay Tuned!

Happy Travels!

– Kevin Williams
VP & Dad