The journey is the destination

I love travelling and so does my husband. Both of us love long drives as well. However, as any parent with an energetic young 7 year old would think, I was a little apprehensive about taking our daughter on a long drive from Chandigarh to Manali, a journey that takes anywhere between 8 hours to 12 hours depending on the road conditions, landslides etc. But I always believed that “The journey is the destination”. So, with this mantra and explaining to my daughter that we will be driving for long, we started on the journey. I am no perfect mom, but I try to get better every day. I understand the harms of giving children cellphones and tabs to play with. On occasions, Yes, I have done it! I have given my daughter my phone, so that I can be left undisturbed. But this trip was different. I told myself and I told her that she is not getting any gadget for entertainment. As the journey unfolded, she cribbed for a while about getting bored, she slept for a few hours, she had bouts of crankiness, and yet, as we kept driving, she realized the beauty that surrounded her. She started enjoying the sights: the beautiful Himalayan range, the ferocious yet calm Beas River that traveled along with us and the lovely summer trees and colours. We were not in a rush to reach Manali. We stopped numerous times in between to eat at the quaint little riverside Dhabas, we stopped to soak in the lovely chilly air and take photographs along the lovely river. As we reached Manali, we realized it had taken us 11 hours. The roads had been really bad, however, I saw that glint of excitement in my daughter’s eyes and realized that she understood “The journey is the destination”.

Tips for long drives with young children:

  • Make sure you load plenty of snacks that the kids love. A hungry kid is a unhappy kid.
  • Stop at regular intervals to take pictures. Each pit stop will help the child connect with the travel.
  • Take sufficient bathroom breaks.
  • Play games like travel bingo. Have kids identify the different signs on the road and discuss what they mean.
  • Show them pictures of the places that you intend to drive through ahead of the journey, so that the kids can relate as you drive along.
  • Put some peppy music and have a family sing along.
  • Take comfortable pillows and blankets so that kids can take naps as and when they need.
  • Have them pack some of their favourite toys for the journey (My daughter used up the entire backseat building a mini fort with pillows and blankets and all of her favourite toys)

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