Last summer, my family and I took a 17-day road trip in an RV for the very first time. We took this trip for a chance to decompress and see different parts of the country, and since we wanted to do so in a socially distanced way, RVing seemed like a really great option.
We had always wanted to take a cross-country road trip in an RV, so this experience was a dream come true. My travel buddies were my husband of four years, Kevin, who is an operations specialist in the Coast Guard, and our son Cole. Before we began the trip, I felt a mixture of emotions: excitement, nervousness, and lots of worries. Our son was 18 months old at the time and we planned our trip knowing we would have to take steps to make sure our little one felt as comfortable and cared for as possible during this journey.
The trip had its ups and downs but overall it was a priceless memory. We had moments of extreme closeness, but sometimes we got on each other’s nerves—just like any typical family road trip, I suppose. But it was a valuable experience that brought our family closer as we shared our common passion and bond for the great outdoors. We had a ritual of watching the stars every night and took some amazing walks and hikes together, all over the country. It was simply magical!
A true vacation
We traveled with our 18-foot Keystone Springdale Mini tow-behind and used Kevin’s Jeep Cherokee as our main form of transportation. My husband had been on an RV trip when he was a child, but for me it was a completely new experience. Growing up, I didn’t have friends or acquaintances with access to RVs, so it was a surreal experience for me.
I realized what an immense privilege it was to be able to explore the open road with access to my own private bathroom, especially in the era of COVID-19. Additionally, our Jeep was great for all kinds of roads and our method of transportation left us feeling safe and empowered throughout the duration of our trip.
When we started our trip, we had a specific route planned ahead of time. However, one thing we learned at the beginning was to let go of rigid expectations. We enjoyed the actual experience of seeing the great outdoors instead of just trying to cover miles. Originally, we wanted to visit family in Illinois, Ohio, and Florida. But we quickly realized that it would be too tight of a schedule since we only had 17 days on the road. It was also Cole’s first time being away from home for this long, so we needed to make sure that we incorporated plenty of stretch and rest breaks. We wanted to make sure that our vacation felt like a true vacation and not just a race against the clock.
Grounded in nature
Two days into our trip, we gave our families a call and let them know that we wouldn’t be able to make it. Once we made that call, it alleviated so much tension. We were able to modify our expectations and make it to Wyoming before turning back and heading home to California. When we gave ourselves the gift of time, we were able to make it up as we went along. We typically spent the night in RV parks and campsites with RV hookups. In Colorado we broke down and got a hotel room so we could take longer, warmer showers and pamper ourselves in a king-sized bed with fluffy pillows—but most of the time the campgrounds and RV parks were fine with us. It was such an amazing feeling to wake up surrounded by trees. As the trip progressed, each time I woke up, I felt more well-rested. I attribute this to sleeping in nature and being able to regulate my nervous system with nature’s natural rhythms.
This vacation happened during a time in my life when it was important to be grounded in nature since I was pretty stressed out from a highly demanding work environment, but I was able to recharge through this road trip experience. Outside of restful nights in nature, stargazing, and nature walks, some of the highlights from our trip included visiting the Grand Tetons in Wyoming, Canyonlands National Park in Utah, and Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado.
Another one of my favorite parts of the trip were the sound healings I was able to perform at natural sacred sites. As a sound healer and workplace wellbeing consultant, it was a real treat to perform sound healings in some amazing parts of the country.
The most challenging part of our travel experience was overcoming my fear of traveling as a Black family. I had a lot of anxiety around how my family would be perceived due to the harsh political climate during the summer of 2020, with that year’s election looming. We live in the Bay Area in California, and we didn’t know how we would be perceived as a family of color traveling in traditionally-red states. The country was reeling from a violent summer of more police shootings of unarmed Black people. I remember feeling a sense of panic when we left on our road trip. For the first time I truly sat with the racial implications of what we were doing. Neither of us had friends who were doing what we were doing—traveling across the country via RV. We kind of felt like weirdos.
However, I must say that our family had a very welcoming experience during our time on the road. Folks were super nice—yet we definitely stuck out as the only Black family in a lot of the places we visited. Overall, I’m grateful that we were able to take part in this transformative experience. After returning from this trip, I’m spreading the gospel of the importance of road trips, and just seeing the country in its most beautiful elements, away from the city. I’m a firm advocate for people of color to have the same privilege and rights to see our nation’s most remote lands.
This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me. This trip gave me a newfound appreciation for the land that the U.S. is situated on. It’s absolutely breathtaking. I want more people who look like me to explore the beautiful lands of Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and beyond. If I had to take this trip again, the only thing I would change is to make it way longer.