Do you remember how you travelled as a kid?
The bulk of my family vacations took place in the backseat of a Cadillac. My brother would be back there with me and often an aunt/uncle or grandparent who was joining us on our adventure. We drove to Alaska, through the States and all of the Maritime provinces (all from different origins). Of course my parents will probably say otherwise, but I don't recall whining of boredom or declaring my dislike to them for torturing me in that manner. For as long as I can remember, I've been travelling and liking it.
Entertainment on road trips/vacations counted as sing-a-longs, I Spy (with my little eye), and actually looking at the scenery. Preparing for those trips was part of the ritual. Little brother and I would go out with Mum and we got to buy travel size boardgames, activity books and Archie comics to be packed away into our backpack that stayed with us in the backseat. Once we were older, my brother and I were allowed to play with a Game Boy but even then there were time limits about how long we were allowed to play with that glorious piece of handheld technology. Annnnd, we only had one so we had to share. Oh the humanity!
There were no TVs dropping down from the car ceiling or in the back of our parents' headrests. There were no portable DVD players resting on our laps. We weren't playing games on our parents cell phone - because there weren't any. And there was no such thing as mp3 player or iPods. Only later on, into my teenage years did I have a Discman (Can you stand it?! That thing was cutting edge.)
Airline travel was far different than it is now too. There was one movie on three screens for the entire flight; forget about personal TVs at your seat. Flights were endured by listening to at airline radio stations and the promise of going up to the cockpit. Sadly, Ember will probably never know how truly cool that experience was.
Frankly, I don't want Ember to be reliant upon technology to endure a family vacation or road trip. And I'm adamant that she won't be ... perhaps to my own detriment. (Time will tell.) When running errands around town, I see kids in the backseat of various SUVs watching Spongebob on the back of their mother's headrest. That really gets me fired up! No wonder kids of today can't focus and have an attention span of a gnat. (I'm generalizing I know.) Whenever I see those kids, I can't help but think about sitting in a backseat for 8 hours a day while travelling. Heck, running errands was a different animal in my time. We didn't have A/C - the car was sweltering - and only the promise of Lifesavers kept me sane. (Yum, Lifesavers. I still love those candies and cannot find them for the life of me.)
Much of our family's travel in the future will be undoubtedly by done by vehicle. I want Ember to see and appreciate our country and adventures from her backseat vantage point. I want her to know the simple joy of I Spy and singing along to the soundtrack of the latest Disney movie. I want her to get excited about family pictures taken car side at various landmarks and tourist spots. And if those experiences are peppered with short stints with an iPod or Nintendo DS (or whatever the latest handheld game system is), then won't travel feel all the richer?
Obligatory stop at Tim Hortons while driving to Dawson Creek.
How do you survive travel with your kids? Are you passionate/obstinate about it, like me?