As promised, I’m reporting back about my family’s recent road trip to the Grand Canyon and Lake Powell. WE SURVIVED! Actually, I’m happy to report that we thrived! I was concerned about traveling in such close quarters with a tween and teenager with very limited WiFi, but the experience actually brought us closer together.
It wasn’t perfect, of course, especially when we almost missed our flight to the RV rental site, lost some luggage, and I got offended by the “boy” sarcasm /humor. But in the end, the adventure and time together was just what we needed to kick off the summer.
Along with the benefits of good tunes and amazing scenery, I had two big takeaways about what contributed most to harmony with my boys when spending so many hours in compact quarters.
1) Humor is a great antidote for the inevitable irritation and friction that arise. My husband and sons all have a great sense of humor. They are witty and lighthearted for the most part. I also love a good laugh, but I’m more serious and sensitive.
One thing we always do on vacation that keeps us close and connected is to find an inside joke for the trip. We realized that we do this on every trip, although not on purpose. We seem to find a funny word or phrase that doesn’t make much sense but cracks us up.
This is easy on vacation because you’re surrounded by people and cultures that might feel interesting, odd, and entertaining, at least to us (in a sweet and curious way, I might add). This isn’t something we look for, but it seems to just happen as we encounter new people and situations.
On this trip, one of the Grand Canyon bus drivers was gently making fun of the super-serious rules around visiting the Canyon, and we found him hilarious. At the end of each sentence he said on the bus intercom, he would add an enthusiastic “ohhhhh yeah!” We decided to find out his route and catch his bus and comments again; we couldn’t get enough! We spent the rest of the trip adding his trademark phrase to our conversations. Not only did this create some added fun, but it was a perfect way to defuse an argument or lighten up a tense moment.
2) Nature! Need I say more? This benefit wasn’t a new insight for me, but this trip really took it to another level. We were all thrilled by the beauty of the Grand Canyon and Lake Powell. Hiking down the Canyon and boating on the lake created memories we’ll appreciate for years to come. Calmer moments were just as special and brought us closer as a family. We sat outside for dinner at night, mesmerized by the fire, the twinkling stars, and the sounds of the bullfrogs near our RV.
The trip was a reminder of how important it is to spend time outside with children and made me think of a blog post I wrote about how to get back to nature with kids while supporting their social learning.
Whether you’re planning your own road trip or settling in at home this summer, give these outdoor ideas a try to create family fun, ease tension, and promote togetherness. Enjoy the rest of your summer!