Every June, we leave our home in San Diego to spend a few months visiting family in our home in Michigan (one of the perks of being married to a professor is all the time off!). It’s the sixth summer we’ve done this and we have a routine: Max drives the 44 hours with the dogs, and I fly out with our two boys.
We’ve always said that one day we would all drive out when the boys were old enough. We almost did this last summer, but chickened out at the last minute, buying three round trip plane tickets.
We finally pulled the trigger this summer, buying a six person tent and booking campsites at National Parks along the way. As we made all of our preparations in May, I became increasingly worried about our decision, dreading the long hours in the car and the hassle of setting up and tearing down camp with two boys and two dogs underfoot.
I was looking forward to our arrival: I’ve always enjoyed our idyllic summers in the Michigan countryside. But thinking about the trip made me groan. I was talking about this with a friend one day and realized:
I need to start treating the trip as part of the vacation.
Once I made this shift in mindset, I was able to get excited for all that lay ahead. When the car was finally packed, I sat in the front seat with only a little apprehension, choosing instead to focus on the adventure in the journey.
And I was right: there was indeed a lot of hassle and discomfort on the trip. We tried to sleep in a tent when it was 45 degrees outside. It took us two hours every morning to break camp. We ate food from a can for five days. We got caught hiking in a freak hail storm. We didn’t shower for days and found ourselves covered in dirt and dog hair.
But I wouldn’t trade any of those hardships for a quick plane ride. Without the hassle, there wouldn’t have been the awe and wonder (and pure fun) of the trip! A quick glimpse into what made it all worth it:
In life as in our vacation, when we choose to avoid the hassle, sidestep challenges, and skip the difficult parts, we lose out on a lot of joy.
How can you “take the long way home” and enjoy the journey as much as the destination?
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