Before setting off on our longer RV adventures, we took an airplane trip to New England to visit family and friends. We had a great time catching up with old friends and seeing family, but the trip was also a good reminder of how stressful travel with young kids can be, especially when they are sick.
Stressors of air travel
Travel is always a bit unsettling, as you’re away from the comforts of home and out of your ordinary rhythms. On the 3 weeks on the other side of the country, we experienced some of this.
We’ve had each of the kids contract a cold, and two of us have come down with pink eye on this trip. I also broke the tip of my toe when I accidentally kicked a telephone pole during a run (don’t ask). At home we’re able to better control what germs the kids come in contact with, and are able to quarantine them once they do get sick so that they don’t spread the germs. When traveling, this isn’t always possible.
Little humans who already have fragile sleeping habits don’t adjust easily to time zone changes. Add in a stuffy nose that keeps them from breathing well and things go downhill fast. When sleep is compromised, everything gets harder.
Living out of suitcases, everything always feels a bit in disarray. We had a lot of stuff that we had to drag from one place to the next, and it always felt like we were misplacing things. We even lost a shoe. And not an extra shoe, one of the shoes that our little girl was wearing!
Vacations can be too long
When we planned this trip to the east coast, one of the things we were excited about was the amount of time we’d have available. Without the constraints of a job to plan around we could stay as long as we wanted. In the past, we’ve usually made these trips to New England about 6-7 days long. These 1 week trips have felt both too short (a lot of money and effort flying across the country with the girls just for a few days visiting) and too long (we start missing home by the end).
For this trip we planned 3 whole weeks. I’m not sure why I thought we’d feel different when I didn’t have a job to go back to, but the reality was we didn’t. After 1 week, just like with the shorter trips, we started missing home. Only this time we still had 2 weeks left to go.
We really enjoyed spending time with family and friends. However, after about a week we felt like we were ready to be home. There seems to be a threshold for us at about 1 week where, lacking certain aspects of home, we tire of travel. We’ve experienced this threshold before with both airplane travel and when camping with our girls in our van.
The important question we’ll need to answer for ourselves is this: what element of home is it exactly that we miss? And will our RV have this element?
Air Travel vs. RV Travel
RV travel will certainly have many of the comforts of home that we don’t have when we travel by air. We’ll have a space that we can call our own, we’ll sleep in our own beds, and our belongings will always be with us and will remain relatively organized (compared to stuffed suitcases anyways).
However, there are many comforts of home that we’ll be leaving behind. We’ll have a lot less space (for both belongings and for living). We’ll be in unfamiliar places and need to expend more effort for simple things like getting groceries, doing laundry, etc. We’ll all be sleeping in one room together. We won’t be near our family or friends.
Leaving behind many of these comforts is something I’m looking forward to– it’s part of the point of this journey. However, I’m also worried that we could be leaving behind the wrong ones.
Since our longest trip so far in the Airstream has been just 1 week, we haven’t quite pushed long enough to find out if RV travel has the right balance of comforts for us to feel “at home” while we travel.
The Next Experiment
Out next trip in early May will be 2+ weeks on the Olympic Peninsula in the Airstream. Hopefully we’ll learn just a bit more about what it means for our family to be “home”.