Family Vacation Road Trip – Road trips are about as American as apple pie. There’s something spellbinding about cruising along Route 66 with miles and miles of nothingness in all directions. So being the travel enthusiast I am, I leaped at an invitation from my sister and brother-in-law to accompany them and their two toddler-aged daughters (my nieces) on a traditional family vacay through the rugged hinterlands of the Southwestern United States in their ever-trusty minivan.
Some may scoff at my naivety in regards to such an undertaking-riding in the backseat alongside three years old and a one-and-a-half years old in a van for 1800 miles. Sure, such people do have a point. I certainly didn’t know the full extent of what I was getting myself into.
I like to think of myself as a rather intrepid traveler, willing to rough it in the most meager of circumstances. In fact, mere days had passed since my return to the States from a month-long jaunt through the wilds of Southeast Asia on a backpacking escapade. After surviving bloody political protests in Bangkok, sketchy border crossings in Cambodia, and pirate-infested waters in Indonesia, I was pretty sure I could handle a summer family vacation to Southern California. However, I quickly learned the futility of making such hasty assumptions.
To be fair, the trip went exceptionally smoothly. Sure, there was an occasional tantrum and a bout or two of carsickness. Luckily, the minivan was blessed with a DVD player which became a heavenly perk during such periods of unrest. And with a seemingly unlimited supply of storybooks, dolls, kid’s sing-along CDs, and gummy bears there was no time for boredom. Yet it was still a welcome relief when, after many hours on the road and with our trusty TomTom to guide us straight and true, we descended into the blissful paradise of San Diego.
San Diego, amongst other pleasantries, boasts some of the most temperate weather conditions in the continental U.S. Consequently, some critics accuse San Diego of being “seasonless” and drab. And yet ironically, its climate is probably its biggest draw. As such, I’d always heard that San Diego was for outdoor enthusiasts and fitness gurus. So, I was rather pleased to see such sentiments ring true as we crossed the two-mile long Coronado Bay Bridge from the mainland to the idyllic resort town of Coronado Island. Throngs of runners, some well-trained and others giving a valiant effort, were, with some exertion, running across the bridge as part of the annual Silver-Strand Marathon.
While the climate and outdoor lifestyle are definite bonuses for visitors, the main draw for many is San Diego’s reputation as a family friendly locale. It’s regularly recognized by travel magazines as a top pick for family vacations. Thus, it’s no small surprise that this was the perfect destination for our legendary road trip.
And what better place to stay in San Diego than at oceanfront condo mere feet from Coronado Beach, revered by many travelers as the best family beach in the country?
So went the family vacation. We boogie boarded. We napped. We ate. We built sand castles. We traversed the island in an electric car. All the tell-tale signs of a traditional family holiday were firmly set in place. This caused an epiphany, of sorts, to maneuver its way into my hard head. Perhaps traveling was about more than just cramming a day full of must-dos and gotta-sees. And as a relatively self-regulating travel buff, I discovered that traveling with kids wasn’t quite the hindrance I had initially deemed it to be. On the contrary, it brought an added dimension of glee and humor to the entire escapade. And so, what if we had to make a few extra pit-stops along the way and didn’t stick to a set itinerary? Travel is about discovery and I, for one, most certainly discovered a lot on that trip.