How to travel the country on a budget

Hello Again,
This week I am writing to you from the road, and the road is what has inspired me to write this article. You can look at this article as some friendly advice from a guy who has lived it and has realized the true value in traveling with your family. This summer, or next summer, or whenever you can make it happen, I implore you to travel someplace with your kids. So often, we get caught up in the money, or the time, or any other excuse we can think of, but we don’t see the big picture. As a kid, I would have never imagined that I would see the vast expanses of the American West that I loved reading about in corny westerns or in the old John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies I loved to watch on the weekends. My family didn’t travel, my Mom and Dad were too busy scraping by and providing us kids with the essentials, I admire them and love them for that, it’s not their fault we didn’t travel, it was just the circumstances. But, when I began teaching and my wife and I were together for the first few summers, the wanderlust began to bite at us, we had all summer, no one to answer to, no bosses to beg off of work from, just us. One year we decided to stop caring about material things, or house improvements; we loaded up our Jeep and drove, and drove, and drove. Something is liberating about it that can only be understood by those who have experienced it, the high skies and never-ending plains of the American breadbasket, the towering heights of the Rocky Mountains, or the beautiful forests and sanguine beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Coming home, we explored Yellowstone and the Black Hills and fell in love. For years, once we started having kids, we would talk about when the time would be right to take our three beautiful kids of the trip of a lifetime. Last week, the old wanderlust hit us again, out of nowhere we decided to put off the new couch we need, the new oven, whatever was worrying us and just drive. We rented a van and off we went. As of this writing, I am staring at the beautiful snow-capped tips of the Sierra Nevadas as my kids eat lunch somewhere in the vast expanses of the Nevada desert. In the past week, they have chilled with Mickey in Anaheim, saw the massive redwoods at Sequoia National Park, watching the sunrise over the Yosemite Valley and we are en route to those Black Hills and Yellowstone that their Mother and I love so dearly. Life is not about things, I have learned that as an adult, I still fall into the trap and want material items for myself or for around the house, but the old saying “you can’t take it with you” could not be more accurate. Who cares if I need a new couch? It can wait, but the experiences my family and I have had over the last week and will continue to have for the following week will last a lifetime. As a teacher I can say without a shadow of a doubt that kids learn better by doing rather than reading about it or watching it on TV; they will never forget this time we spent together, and that makes me feel better than any item I could ever buy.

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About TheOddPast by Matthew A. Perry

Writer, teacher, broadcaster, and podcaster from West Virginia. I write about and discuss the wacky and weird side of history on my website www.theoddpast.com and my podcast "The Odd Past Podcast" available everywhere