Today we present a guest post from Jessica at Suitcases and Sippycups. I am really excited to follow their 3-month journey this year where they will travel back and forth across the country experiencing everything the great U.S.A. has to offer. So please join me in welcoming Jessica.
Hooting and hollering while flying wildly above the ocean is bound to work up a little thirst, so after a morning of parasailing, we ducked into a McDonald’s to grab a dollar drink for the family. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot the glow of the golden arches triggered the begging from the back seat. “Can we get chicken nuggets-and toys,” they begged. As usual, we reminded them that we would have lunch once we got back to the campsite and that they really didn’t need the plastic toy, but as usual, the lure of the plastic toys displayed in the tempting glass case stirred up just a little more begging.
Instead of just saying no again and giving my three oldest sons “the look,” I decided to try a little object lesson. I began to explain that the cost of feeding our family at McDonalds was the same as one ticket parasailing. I reminded them that if we ate at McDonalds every time we felt like it, we wouldn’t have any money to do the fun things like parasailing. Then, I asked them to consider if the chicken nuggets and plastic gizmo were worth the trade. And I held my breath-hoping that my gamble would pay off and they would agree that spending money on experiences was more valuable than spending money on stuff.
One by one they agreed. It helped that they have heard the word “No” many, many times before. They are regularly denied eating out, and candy at the checkout counter, and movie tickets, and the latest electronic gadget. If we do happen to catch a sporting event, we sit in the nosebleed section, and we bring our own snacks and we drive their in a van that can be best described as a clunker. Our kids refer to their family as “cheap” and sometimes in a fit of pre-teen angst, they actually lament why they had the misfortune of being born in such a tightfisted family.
But before you start feeling sorry for the poor Chicken Mcnugget-less kids watching movies at the Dollar Theatre, let me tell you that these same kids have been to England, France, Italy, Greece, Amsterdam, and Hawaii. They have descended into the depths of the earth to dig for gold and ridden on the backs of dolphins and seen where flowing lava touches the sea. They have spent the night in treehouses and coverted caboose cars and safari tents. This year they will have the opportunity to travel for three months to some of the most influential places in American history, seeing first-hand all the places the mark the annals of our history. All this from being born in a cheap family.
People find it hard to reconcile the family driving around in the clunker with the family jetting off to Europe, but it is because of one that we are able to do the other. Like most families, we don’t have an unlimited source of income, so we have carefully chosen to spend our money on traveling because we believe it will give us the most lasting value. We want to exchange our hard earned money for something that will stay with us. The moments we create as we travel become our treasure trove of happy memories that we can return to long after the plastic gimcrack from the Happy Meal has made its way to garbage dump. And yes, it is most certainly worth the trade.
Jessica and her family can be described in one word:average. They are a middle class family living in Middle America right smack in the middle of the suburbs with 3 bedroom 2 1/2 baths and a minivan. This fall they are trading all of that to hop into a camper and take off on an open ended trip around the country, You can join the adventure by following along at Suitcases and Sippy Cups
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