Do you remember your childhood family vacations? When everyone was packed into the car with enough food or snacks to travel for days. When – if you were like me – you were stuck on the hump in the back seat and experienced the adventure through the front windshield. When you argued about your brother’s sweater touching yours, or someone looking out ‘your’ window! When you dared not fall asleep for fear of pinches or slugs to get your head off their portion of the seat. If you add a dog or an elderly relative, some of our funniest family stories and best adventures happened while we were on vacation.
I’m not sure famines travel that way anymore. Everyone taps into the wifi. The non-driving parent knocks out emails so they can ‘catch up’ with work; and the kids surf the internet or savor the silence to listen to their favorite tunes or watch a movie. There is no more billboard poker or learning the grill patterns of the passing semi trucks. There are few sing alongs to the song on the radio or bad joke telling sessions. No one reads the license plates to the group to see who has traveled the farthest, and no one plays name that tune by whistling the first few bars. Everyone does their own thing and simply endures the time until they arrive at the destination.
No wonder families are challenged to get along, stay together, or simply know each other. We have allowed technology to build a wall between us by thinking it is an easier way to prevent the kids from fighting. Heaven forbid we learn to get along, or daydream while staring out the window, or talk to each other and share an adventure. The old way of traveling as a family forced us to somehow get along. It might not always have been a pleasure cruise, but you knew you were a unit at least while you were all sharing the same adventure.
There is something amazing that happens when you travel with people. You learn about them, what is important to them, what they enjoy, what they won’t eat. You learn the best and worst about people, which means they also learn that about you. Being in close quarters without technology as a barrier or buffer, you learn them and they learn you. Proximity and confined quarters means you have to get along as they may be the only people in the area who speak your language.
If you’re having family challenges or feel you do not know your family members, try taking a trip. Take an afternoon and go to the lake or the beach, and lock your technology in the truck. Let the people be what you focus on, not the latest feed or text. Live the adventure and know the people. And be sure to roll down the windows if your last meal included beans!