Permission to Chill

Long term travel is not for everyone. Living out of a bag, switching time zones, bouncing from place to place for months at a time. It can be stressful. It can be chaotic. It can be overwhelming. Perhaps even more so when you travel with kids, but especially teens with their specific needs.

An important part of a our travel plan to reduce the stress and disruption is to plan plenty of down time. I found that constantly going about as a tourist or traveling all day and then jumping right into exploring takes too much out of us for an extended period of time. Years ago I resolved to give us plenty of time to relax. It is just as essential to our travels as the adventures are. It is also another reason why we prefer slow travel – allowing ourselves the time to live in a place as opposed to just visiting a place. Many travelers are on a constant loop of go, go, go – but outside of seeing all the touristy aspects of a location, so much joy can come from giving yourself permission to relax.

Now it is an expectation and my guys’ need to balance the fun with the “chill days” is real. We recently spent a few days camping along the coast in Olympic National Park. It was a few hours drive from our current location, then three days/two nights at a campground. Limited facilities never mind practically no cell service and absolutely no electricity. Needless to say, this adventure took them completely out of their comfort zone. I expected it, but was still surprised how stressed it made them to be without their screens.

The planned two days of down time after this mini-trip-within-a-trip was exactly what they needed to restore everyone.  What do you use to keep everyone tuned into the traveling?



Electronics and Traveling with Teens

A few years ago we were living in a small two-bedroom near downtown of a little city on the coast. We had just one laptop and one tablet to share between the four of us. No gaming systems, no television, and no car, for that matter. Ah… the good ol’ days. Right?

Wrong, at least where my boys were concerned. Fast forward a few years and now we have two Xbox systems, four controllers, a chat headset, a number of games, a Wii system with all the accessories, five traditional laptops, three iPhones, two Nooks, one gaming laptop, and a television in every room. Seriously!

I could live with my work laptop, my phone, and my Nook. Everything else is an extra as far as I am concerned. When planning to pack for our current trip it came up in one of our discussions that we HAD to bring one of the Xbox systems, which included all the “necessary” paraphernalia that goes along with it. I was still trying to work out all the trip details and jazz the kids up for such a long trip, so I was feeling rather accommodating. I thought it wouldn’t be that big of a deal to allow it. There were going to be days that we had to stay in the house so I could work, so why not allow them to bring their electronics that made them happy?

When all was said and done, we ended up bringing along my work laptop, both Nooks, all three iPhones, two laptops plus the gaming one, and the Xbox with games and three controllers. I mentioned this to an older dear friend and he couldn’t imagine being able to bring along so many electronics when on a family road trip. It made me take pause to really consider the necessity* of all these electronics. *Necessity is the boys’ word for it, I would have chosen desire.

But after giving it some thought I came to the decision that while I don’t care for all of this stuff myself and would rather be out exploring or immersed in a good book, the electronics important to my boys right now. And when you’re traveling a lot and have the ability to carry things from home that make the kids happy and more comfortable, I think you should do it. Had we been traveling out of our home country or by plane, obviously we wouldn’t have been able to bring all this along, but for this trip, I compromised with them.  I personally don’t see the need to be attached – as I like to say when I’m annoyed about it -to all the screens, but I do understand that this is simply a way of life for this generation. I try to keep a balance, but some days the screens win out. But really, people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. I’m on my phone, my computer, and my Nook all the time. Even though I’m working or reading, I am still technically on a screen. So even though I sometimes think that they’re wasting their lives away on their screens, I realize that the screens are their access to the world outside their inner circle. For homeschool kids, that access is incredibly important.

What are your thoughts on traveling with electronics? What do you bring along, especially for teens?