Why do I travel alone with my girls? To be completely honest that was never the plan. Ever. I didn’t wake one day and say, what the heck, I’ll just leave my husband behind and go. It actually happened organically a few years back. It all started with a fall I had leaving me non weight bearing and unable to drive for 6 months. While comparatively speaking that’s nothing, but for a busy mom of two it was fairly devastating. I couldn’t drive my kiddos to school. I barely saw them. By the time they got home from school, participated in their activities and attended birthday parties and such, there was very little time left for just hanging out at home with their house bound mama. It was a very trying time for the fam for sure. I couldn’t do for myself and I couldn’t be the mother I was used to being, and the girls were used to relying on. It was lonely and super frustrating. During that time I had in bed I did what I could. And I planned a trip. I was so determined to get up and go again when I finally could and that’s exactly what I was going to do. My family definitely thought this dream of mine was exactly that. I think they were a tad shocked to see me actually follow through with what was the first of many adventurous and ambitious road-trips to come….
I am very fortunate and grateful to have the ability to spend so much time with the girls. My husband unfortunately does not. He does take a week off for a warm weather vacation every year and time off for an uber romantic annual autumn anniversary trip too. Long weekends in between as well. The average American receives just 10 paid vacation days a year. My husband receives no paid days off. He is self employed and pays for two private school tuitions so yes, no work means no money, plus he really enjoys and takes great pride in working and providing for his girls. Sure I want him to experience everything with us but should I wait until he can? When will that be? When he’s retired? Just because he can’t always go, does that mean we shouldn’t go? He knew what a wild gypsy hippie I was when he married me. We balance each other perfectly. I think the saying “you keep me safe, I’ll keep you wild” explains us so well.
That first trip we took was one of the most freeing experiences ever. The open road, no set time to return. It was magical and it got me absolutely hooked. I looked at a map of North America and knew I wanted to conquer it all. I figured why not just start over here and work my way west. I looked at the northeastern most part and that was Nova Scotia. I google mapped it and saw the route to get there passed a bunch of places in New England and up the coast of Maine I had always wanted to see. That’s it. It was set! I planned this trip so, so well. We were never in the car for more than 3 hours. We had THE best time ever! My girls were amazing! I came home feeling tough and able. Confident and inspired. The rest was history.
The girls and I just groove. We eat pickles and sing Adele on the top of our lungs with the windows open. Hubs would think this was cute for about 3 minutes. Us? We LOVE it! Can’t get enough! We make soundtracks for each trip and sing the heck out of them. We pull over on the side of the road and have dance parties in the middle of nowhere. It a girl thing. It’s a blast!! I honestly can picture us doing these trips well into their teens, after they graduate college, and even when they’re older and we can head to more far away exotic lands like India and Thailand.
My little one who is very much a “Stage 5 Clinger ” as my husband says is such a Daddy’s girl. She hugs all over me, likes to cuddle me and have me rock her to sleep sometimes, but she definitely doesn’t act the same way with me that she does with him. She is much more independent when he’s not around and we both think it’s a good thing for her to have more of that which she gets when we’re away.
There are going to be, and have been some who question how I can just go without my husband and to that I would just like to say that I don’t judge anyone or anyone’s marriage. It’s not my place or my business. And more importantly, it’s not my style. What works for some doesn’t work for others. We have found that this works for us. My husband and I never spent a single night apart in almost 5 years of marriage until the first trip I took. We really took pride in that fact. We’re currently going on 16 years of friendship, 10 years together, and 7 years married and while we never thought possible, are more in love now than ever. We have regular date-nights and make our marriage and “us” time a priority which with kiddos, takes effort as many of you know. It’s a non-negotiable for us. Even though you wouldn’t think so, these trips even bring us even closer! Now when I head out on our girls only journeys which by the way he thinks are incredible, we actually reconnect. You see, when was the last time you stayed up for hours just talking to your mate not about the everyday stuff about the good deep stuff? About life, love and your dreams. I mean, like the way you did you when you first started dating? The giggling giddy school girl type of conversations? We do that when I’m away. I put the kids to bed and hubs and I talk for hours and hours and hours. We FaceTime too. I usually leave little Post It notes scattered around the house with sweet messages on them for him to find when I’m away. We used to do this when we first moved in together and it was really nice to bring it back. This time since I’ll be away for Easter I bought all different types of candy eggs and hid them around the house for him to find over time. He has such a sweet tooth. I like for him to find little signs of love all around throughout our trip.
Absence does truly makes the heart grow fonder. We appreciate each other more after a separation. I would’ve never thought I would feel this way years ago. The last time I went away he even surprised me upon returning with my name tattooed on his heart. If this is something some choose to look down upon, so be it. It may not be “normal”, but I was never that to begin with. We are closer and stronger than ever so we’re doing something right, huh?
I have mostly however been commended by people who hear about what I do. They think it’s brave and most admit they could never do it themselves. I have heard people tell me it’s encouraging and inspirational. That honestly means the world to me! I love helping others plan trips and give any little tidbits of any advice I can so feel free to ask away! I’ve learned a lot and with each trip I have really become a better adventurer. To me, this is feminism at its finest. I may not be on the streets marching and holding signs, but venturing out into lesser known territory, educating myself on animal safety, all sorts of terrain, reading old school maps, handling altitude sickness, pitching tents, climbing mountains, starting fires and being solely responsible for two small children while being the only driver to cross borders and continental divides for weeks at time requires a pretty kick ass lady if you ask me. I’m thrilled and proud to be that girl. That woman. That mama bear.
I am a big believer that what you can learn outside of a classroom is just as important as what you learn inside. The girls, especially Madison loves heading back to school and telling her teachers what they have seen experienced. They discuss with their teachers how it relates to what they are leaning in class. I take great pride in the fact that my girls have been to 31 out of the 50 US states so far at ages 5 and 8. They will add about another half a dozen or so to that list after this trip. And no, I don’t count the ones we drive through. I feel we must experience something and emerse ourselves into each and every state to consider it a visited one. My husband couldn’t be more proud of me for this. If he can’t do it as much as we can, he’s thrilled the girls can still do so very much. He always says “these kids experience more than some adults”.
I get extremely nervous but equally excited each time I venture out. Each trip possesses different obstacles and requires a different type of packing, planning and preparation . This journey may just be my scariest yet or maybe I’m just forgetting how I felt before the other ventures? I have the green lush mountains down, there’s just something about the desolation of the dry desert that frightens me a bit. The unpredictable weather. The highs and the lows of the temperatures where we are traveling. The deep canyons without guardrails. Knowing I’ll lose reception during the days for the most part. The fact that I’ll be flying and won’t have my safety blanket aka my car so perfectly packed for any and every situation scares me too. I’ve made so many lists and checked them twice. I’ve referred to myself as Santa a couple of times in the past few days 🙂 I have had to pack a ton I really don’t think about when driving. I’ve also packed all of my camping supplies and things ranging from coast guard certified life-vest to sleds! Yes, sleds! Stay tuned! So fun! I’ll have to stop when we get there for water and food and some supplies so I’ve mapped out a place to do so. I don’t want to jinx this trip by admidittimg my fears, but wanted to share our full journey, start to finish with you. This type of traveling isn’t for everyone but it is definitely for us. I feel so alive being a wanderer. Again, I am really nervous for this one, but you know what they say “If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough”. I feel like after this first complete plane trip alone with the littles with all of our camping supplies and car rentals, the possibilities are really endless. So, wish me luck….