I try to look back and think about the past ten years of my life. In 2008, I graduated from university, sure that I’d conquer the world. I had dreams, some mighty and some small, and a direction in which I assumed I would travel.
Silly me, naive even with a college degree.
All kidding aside, I couldn’t even begin to imagine, back in 2008, where my life would, in reality, take me. I did not imagine falling in love, marrying, procreating, entrepreneur-ing and traveling to be so very much a part of my life.
To be honest, I don’t think I ever imagined what my life could really be like. Now I can’t imagine it being any different.
Valley roots with a traveler’s soul.
I have lived in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas for most of my life. Now, don’t let the inclusion of the word “valley” fool you; there are no mountains in sight. The RGV is, more accurately, a flood plain valley. Semantics aside, it is flat and dry. Oh, and it is randomly windy.
Nonetheless, it has been home for me for more than 25 years, and if we ever move away from the area, I will truly miss it. But, in the short five years I have been married, my husband has managed to show me some amazing wonders that this earth has to share. Of all the beautiful places, small and large, that we have since seen in the past few years, the mountains are simply always breathtaking. The grandeur of these giants really just takes my breath away, every single time.
Have baby, will roam.
When Joshua, my husband, and I took our very first road trip as a family, our little one was only nine months old. She was our first baby and the three of us embarked on exploring a big chunk of this country. Our family thought we were crazy for going on the road for just about two weeks in a Honda hybrid with a nine-month-old breastfed baby. How difficult could it be? We packed our stroller and our baby carrier, no biggie!
Truthfully, it was no biggie. Yes, there were a few stops along the way, but it was during those stops that we made some very special memories. It was during those stops that we saw and met new places. Tiny, Amish town Iowa— yes, we’ve seen it! Walked towards the bottom of a volcano? Checked that off the list this year! I think the single best thing we did in traveling a long way with a tiny little baby was the fact that we approached the trip like we do our every day life: We just did it.
Our child (now children) did (do) not keep us from doing things we loved or things we have always wanted to do. We did them. We do them. Will will always. Safety always in mind, we love exploring this world with our children.
Water, wipes, and baby-wearing
With a little extra thinking, we just live our life at home and on the road like we always do. I breastfeed my baby so I know I always have his food. My children are always drinking water, so I always have their cups filled and easily accessible. Two babies are still in diapers so I carry extras and wipes. I always have a nursing cover that can serve as a million things, and I always have my baby carrier in the diaper bag. Our trips have become longer, farther, and a little more exciting each time. Each time, we do it as we always do, we just parent and act as a family. Sometimes it is at home, sometimes it is in a completely new environment.
The best tip I can provide is to go out and explore! Enjoy being a family together wherever your mind and the “road” take you. When it begins to become overwhelming, take a deep breath and just remember the moment. Make the best of any situation. The stresses of being a momma don’t change much in the environment, our approach to it does. So, relax. No matter what, your child is going to need you always. My three-year-old had to potty in the middle of a traffic jam up in the mountains, what do you think we did? We laughed!
I hope to share with you, in the future, more in-depth tips from our experiences traveling. For now, I challenge you to go out and explore. Start small, dream big, and make memories.
If you are local to the Rio Grande Valley area, here are some of our favorite local places to explore:
Llano Estero Grande State Park in Weslaco, Texas (http://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/estero-llano-grande)
Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge in Alamo, Texas (https://www.fws.gov/refuge/santa_ana/)
La Sal del Rey in Linn, Texas (https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Lower_Rio_Grande_Valley/visit/la_sal_del_rey.html)
A little more adventurous?
Guadalupe River State Park in Spring Branch, Texas (http://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/guadalupe-river)
Lost Maples State Park in Vanderpool, Texas (http://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/lost-maples)
Big Bend National Park in Texas (https://www.nps.gov/bibe/index.htm)
Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee (https://www.nps.gov/grsm/index.htm)
Glacier National Park in Montana (https://www.nps.gov/glac/index.htm)
Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming (https://www.nps.gov/grte/index.htm)
Enjoy the journey!