I was on family vacation last week and my sister is on vacation this week. These trips remind me of all of the places we traveled with our parents when we were kids. The combination of being 2 hours away from an airport and taking vacations on a budget meant that family vacations were always done by car. I traveled to 41 states by the time I was 16 – without an airplane ticket to my name. While I will never forget seeing Mt. Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, or the ocean for the first time, some of the simpler memories stick with me just as much.
Typically we left very late at night or early in the morning to maximize driving time. When we got in the car, Mom always had a cake pan on the car seat for for my sister and me. Inside were new coloring books, crayons, stickers, game books and playing cards. We had new packs of gum and candy and as a special treat for me and my dad, a giant bag of Twizzlers. We played every highway game known, and the family favorite was the license plate game. Each vacation we were determined to cover all 50 states.
The list of places we went is long. I found some photos to highlight.
- Frankenmuth, Michigan
- Mammoth Cave, Kentucky (Where I learned the phrase “Coke alright?” when asking for Pepsi)
- New England, ending at Freeport, Maine
- New York / New Jersey / Cape May
- Disney World
- Washington, DC / Virginia
- North Carolina / Biltmore
- Grand Canyon – just imagine all of the stops on the way from Ohio
- Yellowstone National Park – with stops in the Badlands, Mt. Rushmore, Wall Drug and Corn Palace
- And more camping trips throughout Ohio than I can remember
In my current stage in life, flying is easy. I am a frequent flyer for my job and live a short drive to the airport. Despite this ease, I want to recreate some of these vacations for my family. While I will likely resort to an iPad instead of a cake pan, I think it’s important to forge these memories with my family. It reminds me that I didn’t miss out on anything by not getting on an airplane until I was 16.
Small Town Leadership lesson: I was enriched by the amazing places I saw and the strangers my family turned into friends on our cross-country vacations. I remember the journeys as much as the destinations. Now it is time to start making these memories with my family!
What is your favorite family vacation memory?
P.S. I’m now up to 47 states – I still need to cover: Idaho, Oregon, and Louisiana.