Holidays on the road: Making holidays special for a traveling family

halloween costumesHolidays are most definitely one of the highlights of everybody’s year. We all have our little traditions we stick to and, as kids, look forward to all of them. I used to measure my years by all the holiday traditions we had – making our own valentines… putting up a shamrock tree… the 4th of July parade… Thanksgiving with Grandma’s Cranberry Salad… opening presents on Christmas Eve… Magical indeed!

Celebrating holidays while traveling was one of the concerns I had when we made the decision to make travel a long-term lifestyle. We quickly decided the smaller holidays wouldn’t be an issue, but the biggies – we had to think of something! Fortunately, all is well in that department and the kids look forward to holidays just like any other kid in America.

Because we never know where we might be for any given holiday and have no idea what the circumstances might be, we have learned to be flexible and creative. We strive to make the holidays special, but how that special-ness will come is the exciting part of it all!

A Halloween Push

One year we were just leaving the Grand Canyon when Halloween was coming. Halloween had always been a favorite of our boys, and we were determined to get them someplace where they could go trick-or-treating. It was touch and go as to whether we could do it or not, but we made the decision to try – that was all we could do.

As it happened, the road to Williams, Arizona from the Grand Canyon is all uphill and we fought a terrible headwind. We “only” had 50 miles to pedal, but 50 miles uphill and against a headwind can be a battle. John, captaining the triple bike with our boys behind him, gave it a valiant effort, but was exhausted beyond belief.

Every mile or so, John slowly climbed off his bike and slumped to the ground. I could see the exhaustion in his eyes and weariness in his shoulders. He was trying – but would he make it?

Our sons, anxious to get to town for the big night, gave it their all. I watched as their legs pumped and they leaned into the wind to get traction. During each of the many breaks, the boys paced around, checking the clock to see if we still had enough time to make it in. “C’mon Daddy!” they urged excitedly. “We’ve got to get to town!”

As the hours passed, John’s pace slowed to little more than a crawl, but he somehow kept going. He was just as determined as the rest of us to reach Williams. But finally, three miles from town, he was done. He could go no farther. We pulled into the national forest outside town to call it a day.

The boys and I left John there in the woods and hitched a ride into Williams where we trick-or-treated until our feet nearly fell off, then hitched a ride back out to where John was waiting, snuggled up in his warm sleeping bag against the freezing temperatures.
The following morning, we feasted on frozen cupcakes and pies, stashed the candy in our panniers, and set out once again.

Christmas on the road

Santa has always managed to find us, wherever we may be. As teachers, my husband and I have always had Christmas off from work, and we have always traveled during the holidays. Once the boys came along, we continued with our travels and created new traditions for the holiday.

As we are never home for Christmas, we don’t bother with a Christmas tree or decorating the house, but we try to make the holiday special in other ways. No matter where we are – whether we’re in the Burmese mountains or a tent in Baja – Santa has always come. There were times when we wondered how, but somehow it always happened.

The boys have gotten their treats from Santa in a wide variety of manners – from actual Christmas stockings hung up in a hotel room to decorated bags left outside our tent to on top of a pile of grass – but they always wake up Christmas morning to find some kind of treat.

Our newest tradition is that of decorating our bikes. Every year I buy a bunch of garland and mini-Christmas trees and we enjoy making our bicycles festive. The boys have a blast decorating them, and we enjoy having our own little holiday spirit with us no matter we go!

Make the holidays your own

The important thing to remember when traveling with children is to be creative and celebrate the holidays somehow. Your old traditions of holidays at home will influence what you do, but think of new and exciting ways of making holidays special no matter you are. Your kids will always remember them.

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

Connect with us!

We love to get to know new people. Send us a message!

, , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply