Why my family needs to travel

The benefits of travel for your family.

Now need is a very strong word. There are only a few things that we really need and I must admit, travel is not one of them. But, it does rank up there very high on things I feel are necessary for the growth of my family.

We recently got back from a weekend trip. This is not something we do often. We either take a week or two in the summer to visit somewhere, or we take day trips near home. This time however, we flew several states away just for the weekend to celebrate my grandfathers 100th birthday. It was during this trip that I was reminded why I keep pushing my family to travel. Yes, travel is something I am discovering is rooted deep down inside me but it does so much more for my family.

  • We bond together as a family. I see so many posts about this and it is so true. Usually at home we are a busy family. We all have our activities and commitments that pull us in different directions. We do make some intentional family time, but that is usually a few hours at the end of the day and only one to two times a week. However, when we travel we are all together all the time. And it works for us. It gives us shared experiences to talk about and the kids have to rely on each other for entertainment and company. As my children have gotten older they have learned each others strengths and weaknesses. My oldest especially gets it when her younger sister needs a little silly time to cheer up or provide some comfort when one of her siblings is scared.
  • We all learn some flexibility and what it means to move out of your comfort zone. As human beings we tend to gravitate towards what is familiar and comfortable, but that does not allow for much growth. I want my children to always wonder and question the things they do. I feel travel helps show them that it is OK to be in a new environment or to try something new. The more new experiences we allow ourselves the more trying new thing doesn’t seem all that scary. That new experience can lead to new opportunities. Even as adults, this idea of flexibility helps lead to a more fulfilling life.
  • Problems come up. It does not always go as planned. We get to solve these problems together and work with each other. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and the more we can understand and embrace those personality traits the stronger we become as a family.

Now I don’t want it to sound like it is always picture perfect. We definitely have our share of tantrums, tears, grumpies and grumbling. There are times we don’t understand someone else’s reaction or just don’t want to compromise. But most times, out of that frustrating space comes fun memories and lessons that bring us closer together as a family.

And that is what bring me joy. Experiencing life together with my family.

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Our visit to Monticello

Learning about Thomas Jefferson at Monticello

Our 2015 road trip continued from Shenandoah National Park to Raleigh NC. While finalizing our plans I realized we would be driving by Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello. My husband and I enjoy history and would enjoy visiting, but we were not so sure about the kids. We usually visit parks and have outdoor adventures, this would be a different type of experience. The tickets for the 5 of us were going to be on the pricey side. We were unsure of the value we would get out of the visit. However, when we discussed the possibility with the kids they were excited. We decided to give it a try, and I am so glad we did!

The first thing we did when we arrived was purchase our tickets. The guided tours are only for the first floor of the house and they are scheduled for specific times. You do need a ticket to explore any where on the grounds and it gets you a bus ride from the welcome center to the house and back.

monticello kidsWe were on a tight time schedule and the regular tours were all filled for the next few hours. They do also offer a family tour and that worked with our time frame. The family tour was tailored to young elementary aged children. I thought our tour guide did a wonderful job including the young children. My 2 younger children, ages 8 & 10, enjoyed the house tour, but my 14-year-old was somewhat bored. She did however perk up and enjoyed some greater freedom exploring the grounds and basement. Your ticket allows independent exploration of the grounds and basement of the house. Throughout this area were some interactive displays for children that helped put into perspective what life was like at Monticello.

Since Monticello was just a stop on our drive from Shenandoah to NC, we did not have much time. I wish we had more time to explore. They have walking trails throughout the property that we were unable to enjoy. We also didn’t have time to visit Thomas Jefferson’s grave site, but did see it as the bus drove by back to the visitors center. I learned later that the Griffin Discovery Room at the visitors center is a fun interactive experience for kids, but we also missed that.

It was a hot day and we spent about 2 hours with the house tour and exploring the grounds. This was enough time to get a general overview, but I would recommend allowing more time.

monticello

Monticello has a fun kids website that my youngest daughter has been enjoying since we came home. She has been building a house with different architectural features and learning more about Thomas Jefferson with his grand-daughter,  Cornelia. She even put together a slide show about her visit. I just love that she has initiated all this learning independently.

I also found this blog post from Currently Wandering with more information about visiting Monticello with kids.

Overall, it was a great experience for our family. I just wish we had more time. We will definitely be looking for more historical sites on our future travels. What are some of your favorite historical sites to visit?

Go out, explore and find joy!

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4 Breakfast Recipes For Your Next Roadtrip

A collection of easy breakfast ideas for road trips.

Update: I tried to get this post out before we left but life got in the way. Read to the end to see how my plan worked.

I am so excited to get out of town this summer. We are headed on a small road trip soon to visit some family. My travel wish list is sooo long I try to maximize our budget while on our adventures. For this trip I plan to bring breakfast to cover each day we will be gone and we will picnic for lunch.

I will be sharing my breakfast plan with you today. Not only will this save us some money but it will also make sure we start each day with good nutritious real food. For each breakfast I plan to bring enough for two days. This will get us through almost one week. I am not sure what I would do if we were going to be gone longer. This is a good start.

All of these breakfast ideas are things I usually make at home, so for a few weeks before we leave I will just double each batch and freeze one to save. Very simple with little extra effort.

Egg cups

This is a super simple recipe and I use the term recipe very loosely.
  • All I do is scramble 6-12 eggs in a quart measuring cup.
  • Pour a little milk in, maybe about 1/4 to 1/3 cup and mix.
  • I then pour the egg mixture into my silicone baking cups (I love these things and find so many different uses for them).
  • I then bake them at 400 for 20 minutes.

This is the basic recipe but feel free to add to it. I sometimes add bacon pieces or cheddar cheese. You could also add vegetables, sausage or pieces of bread. The possibilities are endless.

At home I store the egg cups in the fridge and on early, busy mornings I just warm a few up in the microwave for an easy egg breakfast. While on the road I am trying to freeze them. I am not sure how that is going to work. Stay tuned for an update.

Whole Wheat Biscuits

My biscuit recipe came from this site. When I make these I always double the recipe and freeze them. We always have a stash in the freezer and they go so good with the eggs to make a breakfast sandwich.

Raspberry baked oatmeal

This has been a favorite at my house for the past few months. Even my kids like this one and I usually end up making it once or twice a week. I love the oatmeal taste of this recipe so much that I decreased the fruit to 1 cup. I have tried freezing this recipe and it works well, but in this house it doesn’t last too long. Click here to find the recipe.

Granola Cereal

This is another favorite in our house and with the neighborhood kids. It makes a large batch and most often I can get two weeks with this recipe. If it makes too much for you I have frozen it without difficulty.
6 Cups of old fashioned oats
1 Cup each of almonds, walnuts and pepitis
1-2 Tbs of cinnamon
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup olive or coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix the oats, nuts and cinnamon together. Then mix together the honey, syrup, oil and vanilla and add it to the oats and nuts. Place on a cookie sheet and cook at 350 for 30-40 min, stirring every 10 min.

I like a lot of cinnamon, so I usually add more. I have just started using coconut oil instead of olive oil and like it better. Watch it cooking carefully, burnt granola is a waste, I learned that one quickly!

On the road we will use the granola as part of a trail mix in addition to cereal in the morning. When we went camping last year I found milk that does not need to be refrigerated. We will be bringing a few boxes of that for our cereal.

Well there you have it. It all looks good on paper and makes sense in my head. We are getting ready to head out. Lets see how it all works.

Happy Travels!

Update:  My plan worked well except for two problems. I took too much food! The kids were a little more picky on the road. We ate breakfast out one day that I had kinda planned on but we also stayed at a few hotels that included breakfast. My breakfast couldn’t compete with the self making pancake machine. Even I admit that thing was awesome! My other problem was how we stored the food. I put all the food in freezer zip lock bags in our cooler. Somehow in all the traveling and moving the bags got holes and most of the food became soggy. I hate to say it but I ended throwing out a lot of the food. Next time we will try double bagging the food or using sturdier containers. We are done with our summer travel and ready to enjoy the Fall season, but for our next adventure I will be ready with a good breakfast plan.

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