Posted by Nicci | Travel & Leisure

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In today’s world of social media we see these awesome vacation photos of our friends and acquaintances. What do they all have in common? (Other then looking a little too picture perfect at times) They are all photos of the vacation destination which reminds us that vacation is about the destination. Right? Well not for my family.

Both my husband and I grew up in families that road tripped. So our early vacation memories are just as much about the journey as it was about the journey’s end. For me some of the early trips meant the journeys end was at a relative’s home in another state so I was more excited about the drive then the final destination as my relatives generally still had their day jobs to go to while we were visiting. Now that we are adults who have experienced a variety of vacation styles from “staycations” to road trips to international travel, we have not forgotten our roots.

Neither one of us care for air travel as it exists today, although we have a lot of respect for the journey it has taken to protect travel for those who must fly. Since 9-11 travel on an airplane is not as enjoyable as it once was. All that rushing around, not knowing if you are going to be singled out for a search and then the possibility that you may not make a connecting flight. Then add in that I am claustrophobic. I once told an airplane exec that was curious as to why I didn’t like air travel that airplanes reminded me of coffins with wings. Yeah. Just the thought of starting a vacation with a plane ride for either of us kind of sets us on edge. That kind of feeling can set a bad tone for the entire trip. If we can avoid using a plane it’s a much better trip right from the start.

That means we do a lot of traveling in the USA within a 9 hour drive of where we live. Since we live in Southeast Tennessee we feel like that gives us plenty enough options for adventure and excitement. In recent years we have been to Washington, DC (where I am originally from); Williamsburg, VA; Orlando, Florida; Lake of the Ozarks, MO and plenty of places in between. Each time we plan our trips we try to incorporate special stops along the way. We also try to plan our road trips with extra time as the unexpected can be just as enjoyable as the planned stops.

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             Cahokia Mounds

I will never live down a time in which Branden asked if I wanted to make a stop at Cahokia Mounds right outside of St. Louis, MO. He knew that was on my bucket list as I am a big fan of archaeology and have an art history minor. I thought the historical site was going to be way off the beaten path but when he pointed to a sign that said it was only a mile off the exit I grabbed his arm and excitedly exclaimed “Yes, please! Let’s go now!” In Branden’s memory my eyes turned red and my voice took on a deeper tone. He even has gone so far as to say I ordered him to “Turn now servant!” Shame on him for picking on me! As you can see that has stuck with me for the past 15 years and is a favorite road trip moment of ours.

Sure road trips can be long and boring. But they don’t have to be. You can go low tech and do fun car games. You can use it as a time to have a conversation where phones and FaceBook can take a back seat. Use the trip as a way to re-invest in your relationship. Find out what makes your significant other tick today. You can also bring techie gadgets with you to entertain the little ones (or older parents). My mom has loved watching movies in the back seat on some of our most recent trips.

The point for me is I would never trade any of our side trips along the way for a fast or “easy” way to get from point A (home) to point B (the vacation destination). Those side trips are just as memorable, if not more so, then the actual trip.

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