How did we become a travln' family?
Short answer? I don't know, but I have some ideas. Growing up, my family never vacationed more than two hours away from my home. However, when the Great Smokey Mountains, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and the increasingly popular theme park, Dollywood, is only two hours from home, I guess I can't complain.
It is interesting as I think back over my life, that it wasn't until this past year of planning for Disney, that I realized how much pleasure I take in the process of travel. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the actual experience of travel, but planning for the next trip and sharing my discoveries is nearly as exciting as the trip itself. Just ask my poor Facebook friends who have to endure my posts of excitement about the next upcoming trip.
I can remember in the
days before internet early days of our marriage pouring over vacation catalogs, scoping out every detail about the area we wanted to visit, and stopping in travel agencies for as many brochures as I could get my hands on. We won't discuss just how old that makes me, and that the upcoming trip to Hilton Head Island to celebrate my birthday is marking the final year of another decade. No, we won't talk about that at all!
I suppose another impetus for becoming a travln' family began in our college years in Memphis. Though we were poor and in college, we had no trouble spending the weekend getting out and exploring all Memphis had to offer, at least within our budget. It was there that we began gaining a love for good coffee, small holes in the wall restaurants, and local culture. The best part of travel is experiencing what makes a place unique. America is a land of chain stores and franchises, this is true, but if you get off the interstate and find the downtowns and the local hot spots or maybe just venture down a country road, you will discover she is a place of true beauty.
Our love of the outdoors has also impacted our family travels. In 2012, after waxing eloquent about my fond memories of camping in a pop up camper with my family, we purchased a used 2010 Jayco Eagle travel trailer. This is a decision I do not regret. It has provided so many great memories for our family and allows us to tour NE Tennessee, SE Virginia, North Georgia, and North Carolina quite economically. We've even had it all the way to Nags Head.
One of my favorite things about summer is that we live just a stones throw from Roan Mountain State Park . We spend lots of time in their campground. It provides my kids a neighborhood that they don't enjoy in our home. I'll never forget the first summer there, my then seven year old boy took off on a bicycle and only returned,usually with a pack of other hungry boys, to eat and then ride off again. Sometimes traveling just a short distance from home is all we need to scratch the itch.
Finally, my husband's entreprenurial spirit and our homeschooling has created our travln' family. As a small business owner, he is always, and I mean always, studying how to be a better business owner. We soon discovered that we could mix business with leisure and provide more opportunities for our family to travel and experience the world. Our homeschooling lifestyle provides flexibility in our schedule so we often incorporate natural history museums, zoos, and children's science centers into our travels.
In fact, a great tip someone shared with me was to join a local or regional Natural Science Center. This often makes you a member of the ASTC and AZA which reciprocate to other science centers, zoos, and aquariums. We joined the Western North Carolina Nature Center for under $70 per year and our entire family gets to enjoy science centers and zoos all over the country at 50% off and, sometimes, even free. I have already scoped out several places for our upcoming California trip including the Tech Museam and the San Francisco Zoo. Be sure to read the details of your local science center before joining as their are milage requirements with regard to how far you reside from the center and programs can vary.
We take a lot of ribbing from family and friends because we travel so much. We are told we live a "charmed life". Perhaps we do. At least we are living it on the road!