Thought I’d take a pause from where we’ve been and what we’ve done to talk a little bit about what daily life is like for us these days. If you’re curious, I’m writing this from the Badlands in South Dakota, and still have posts coming about our travels in Chicago, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
I’ve started writing this post several times, trying to figure out the best way to share a slice of our life on the road. I decided to start with the questions we’ve been asked, guessing that those might be the kinds of things that might be interesting to read about on our blog. But it seemed grandiose to call them FAQ’s (frequently asked questions) because we’re not really asked them all that frequently.
I also want to apologize for getting a little behind on the blog. We’ve reached a part of the country where mobile internet access is pretty spotty, and while many campgrounds advertise free wifi, it’s not always promised that the signal reaches out to where we’re actually camped. Like tonight for example. So posts with lots of pictures to upload will have to wait a bit. But anyway, here come a few “sometimes asked questions”.
Q: How are the kids doing with all the time in the car?
A: Really great, actually. We have barely used most of the car activities that we brought to help entertain Emelie. She’s usually content to look out the window, occasionally read a book, and listen to music. This morning when we buckled her in to her car seat she exclaimed, “Let’s get on the road guys!” Followed immediately, of course, by “MUSIC!” We’ve listened to the same two Veggie Tales CDs more times than I’d even dare estimate and we’re all humming them in our sleep. We also go through a lot of car snacks. Peter sleeps really well in the car and we try to time driving around his usual nap times (not that he’s ever had much of a regular schedule) so he’s generally pretty quiet in the car.
Q: What have you learned so far about traveling this much with little ones?
A: The biggest thing we had to learn initially was what kind of pace is reasonable for all of us, but naturally this is mot effected by the kids. We learned that about 4 hours of driving in a day is pretty doable, but when we start pushing longer than that, that’s when problems start to arise. So anytime there’s more than 4 hours between one stop and the next, we need to add a stop somewhere in between and take an extra night getting there. Often we can find something to do in an area where we hadn’t even planned to stop, so that’s a bonus. We also learned that 4:00 in the afternoon seems to be some sort of line which we should try not to cross in the car. Everyone’s getting tired, hungry and a little wiggly. And if the kids don’t get time to move around enough before bed then they can have trouble falling asleep at night too. But if we get off the road around 4:00, there’s time to set camp and cook dinner without stress and the kids get some play time in and everybody is much happier. With the exception of nights en route, when we’re just breaking up a drive into shorter pieces, we try to stay in each place at least 2 nights, so we’re not packing up and moving everything everyday.
Q: How is the pop-up camper working out?
A: The short answer is just fine, and we’re so very thankful to be able to borrow it. This trip would not have been possible without it. We have needed to do some minor repairs, but Staffan enjoys that kind of problem solving and thankfully there hasn’t been anything expensive. We’re developing routines around setting up and taking down (though we’re not quite at the 5 min that Staffan joked about before we left), what stays packed in the camper vs what gets moved to and from the car, etc. Since we’re not even a month into the trip yet, I’m sure we’ll get smoother and faster as time goes on. We’ve invested in a small refrigerator, which is helping us both eat better and resist the temptation to eat out too much. We also bought a space heater to keep us warm inside when it gets a little colder. It’s working better than expected to all sleep in the same room and it really is much more spacious than we’d expected. We ❤ our Home Sweet Pop-up!
Q: What’s the hardest thing so far?
A: Probably the hardest thing to get used to is being on vacation in a way that’s sustainable over a longer period of time. On a one-week vacation, you can go out for ice cream everyday. Not such a good idea on a 3 month trip. We can’t totally check out of the normal everyday things, like paying bills, making/returning phone calls, etc like we would on a shorter vacation. Normal life in Sweden feels so distant, yet we can’t ignore reality altogether for this length of time. It’s also difficult to remember sometimes that this is our everyday life for a while, and the regular everyday things are still present. Peter never consistently slept through the night at home, and he hasn’t started on the road. Emelie is still 3 years old and knows how to throw a good temper tantrum just as well in the middle of a campground as she does in an apartment. We still bicker over whose turn it is to do the dishes and other such mundane things in a way that maybe we wouldn’t on a shorter trip. We may be in a new place every other day, but we’re the same people with the same issues as we are at home.
Q: What’s the best thing so far?
A: Getting to be together so much and experience things together. It’s amazing to see how our kids, especially Emelie, are growing and learning so much from these new experiences. We’re also loving all the time we get to spend outside. We’re doing things we love to do – camping, traveling, learning new things, seeing new places – with the people we love most. What could be better than that?!
What other questions do you have that we can answer in a future SAQ post? Leave them in the comments so we can include them!
Eating dinner inside tonight because it was too windy to eat outside. Just a normal thing – eating dinner – except the cheeseburgers are buffalo meat and we have an incredible view of the Badlands out our window. Ordinary life in extraordinary places!