It’s hard to believe that around this time last year, I had begun my 48-State RV Tour – 1 Mom + 4 Kids in a 31 Foot Motorhome. To say the adventure was life changing is an understatement. Not a single day goes by that I don’t miss the experience or reflect on how it has shaped my life–or the lives of my children.
As my 2016 travel with kids plans come together, including plans to tag those last 2 States — Hawaii and Alaska — sans Motorhome, I’ve come to realize that my thirst for travel has only intensified after my solo road trip across the USA with my kids. But realizing this intensity wasn’t immediate.
After nearly six months of continuous travel, I did experience a cooling of wanderlust once I returned home and parked the RV (“Karma”) in the driveway. Part of me felt relieved to have made it home safely, with all four kids, no accidents, no injuries. Part of me felt satisfied that we had accomplished what we had set out to do on the adventure: to see the USA and tag the Contiguous States. Part of me felt relieved that I could get a real break from 24 x 7 mama time (x day after day for WEEKS), even if that break was short, such as spending a few hours with my mom and sisters, who thankfully always seem more than happy to entertain, fill juice glasses, make food, and babysit for my crew.
Soon after my return, family and friends wanted to know where I was going next and when.
“What’s your next travel plan?”
“Where are you taking the kids next month?”
“Why even bother unpacking, you’ll be gone again soon, right?”
I didn’t have answers about when or where next. I was happy to be home. Although I was a bit homesick for the places my travels had taken me. My children were happy to be home. Although not long after our return, they did begin to ask questions like, “When will we go camping again?”, “Can we roast marshmallows outside?”, “Can we go somewhere instead of staying home for so long?”
Not feeling a deep longing for travel was somewhat unnerving. I always want to travel–to explore, plan adventures. That’s me. That’s what I do. Wanderlust is set on repeat in my brain.
To make it worse, in the early days and weeks back at home, it seemed hard to recall details about the trip, particularly the smaller things that I thought would be impossible to forget while traveling. I didn’t even find myself talking about it much. How does someone not talk much about such a monumental, truly epic adventure?
After a few months, I actually wondered if driving over 18,000 miles, tagging state after state, killed my wanderlust. Would I ever want to travel again? I was content sewing, writing, cooking, making mala beads, taking my kids to ski lessons and swim practices. I was happy taking short drives to visit family. I liked sleeping in my bed. I was thrilled to see the same set of familiar faces around town, day after day. There was something exciting about not experiencing newness and change on a daily basis.
What if I was becoming a mom who didn’t want to travel…didn’t like to travel…didn’t have any desire to travel? Eeek….
But then one day, it happened.
I was making plans. Buying plane tickets. Renewing passports. Booking Homeaway stays and researching AirBNB options.
I was writing about the epic adventure. The details didn’t just slowly drift back. They poured in–I even remembered the distinct smell of burning brakes on that dirt road wrong turn which abruptly ended in an extremely steep and totally unexpected downhill.
My wanderlust was still there! I was exhausted. My wanderlust was exhausted, too. Hard to believe, huh?
I simply needed to recharge–to reconnect with my roots and the familiar. To curl up on the couch and do nothing. To do things that placed me firmly in the center of my comfort zone, rather than push me to the periphery, as I had experienced nearly every minute of every hour for days, weeks, and months.
It’s Back: Wanderlust on Turbo Drive
After time to recharge, staying present (physically and mentally) without thinking about future travel, my love and appreciation for travel is now revving for more. The extended solo road trip with my 4 kid crew has also refueled my love and appreciation for home. It has given me new travel ideas and refilled my travel and adventure bucketlist.
I can’t stop researching destinations! The first email messages I open in my inbox are the ones announcing flight deals. Even car rental deals make my heart pitter patter. My wanderlust is out of energy save mode.
As amazing and incredible as the solo mom with 4 kids travel of the The Contiguous States was–yes, I would absolutely do it again–the adventure leaves a bittersweet aftertaste summed up by the following quote:
“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”
There are pieces of my heart scattered everywhere in the USA and in all of the other places I have traveled. Thankfully though, whether traveling with my kids in tow or nestled at home with them, the biggest pieces remain together.