When was the last time you saw a kid with their head in their hands bemoaning the holiday budget or the struggle to find affordable online flights? I haven’t, ever, they seem immune to the worries that their parents have prior to and even during travelling.
Which is lovely actually, sometimes I’d like to be more ‘kid’ when it comes to life.
Although we planned our road trip in the USA for months ahead and spoke about it often, I was curious to find out what our children thought about all the behind the scenes preparation as well as the trip itself.
What were the stresses and highlights for them? What did they love and want to do next time? How much do they think the trip cost? What did they learn from the experience?
When you travel as a parent, your concerns are mostly about keeping your children safe, fed, watered, toiletted and accommodated, more or less. Every now and then you think about the places you’d like to see and explore yourself. When a child travels, their concerns are mostly around…well I decided to ask them.
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So I sat down with each child individually and interviewed them, as always, I love the diversity of their replies. My children are 16, 13, 11 and 9 years old, their answers are noted by age order, from oldest to youngest.
What was the best part of our road trip to the USA?
- Meeting new people
- I enjoyed the whole experience more than one part
- I enjoyed the amusement park and the baseball game
- The amusement park and Couchsurfing
Which was the most stressful part for you?
- Ordering food – because dad got stressed when we kept on changing our orders
- I wasn’t stressed on holiday but the airport was a little bit stressful
- When I was sick in New York
- Getting the massive mosquito bite on the back of my ankle
What do you think was the most hardest part for Mum and Dad to organise?
- Organising the accommodation (reasonably true)
- The accommodation
- Organising us and getting us ready so we didn’t lose anything (also fairly true)
- Tickets for the amusement park (definitely not true)
What did you think about all the driving we had to do?
- I didn’t enjoy it per se but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be
- I did not like it
- Some parts were nice and some parts were boring
- Some of it was nice because I got to sleep and see loads of places. Actually it wasn’t too bad, only the really long days when you think you are nearly there but you’re not.
- Mainly because I watched a lot of movies (we downloaded Netflix onto a couple of phones and had a portable DVD player)
- It got annoying, the back seats were uncomfortable (we were given a Chevrolet Tahoe which has a narrow back bench seat with limited leg room)
- I liked watching movies, listening to audio books and having fun with the family. But I didn’t like feeling sick or being bored.
How far do you think we drove in total?
- 3500 km
- 2000 miles
- I know the answer, Dad told me, it’s 3500 miles (over 5600 kilometers)
- 3000 km
Which was your favourite city and why? (between New York, Washington D.C., Chicago and Boston)
- Boston – because I learnt all about it in History and it was cool to be there
- New York – because we did a lot there and it was the first place we went to
- Chicago – it wasn’t too busy or too hot and it had cool buildings and places to go
- Chicago – we played in the fountains, ate pizza, listened to the orchestra in the park – I loved that day
What did you think of the food?
- It was good, the pizza was really good
- It was great, my favourite places were the Thai restaurant in Boston and the pizza place in Evanston, Illinois
- I loved the food because I don’t actually like hotdogs but I like American hotdogs
- My favourite was IHOB/IHOP. I really liked the Mexican food people made for us too but we had that a lot so got a bit bored of it.
Which ticketed activity did you enjoy the most – apart from the amusement park Carowinds?
(We bought tickets for the following attractions: Hop-on-Hop-off bus in NYC, entry into the virtual reality booths and planetarium for the kids in the Air and Space museum, D.C., Madame Tussauds in D.C. a baseball game in Greenville, a boat taxi in Chicago and the Maid of the Mist boat in Niagara Falls).
- Baseball game
- Madame Tussauds and baseball game
- Madame Tussauds and baseball game
- Baseball game
This was interesting to me that they all loved the baseball game. I would highly recommend this as a family activity – we all loved it.
What was your favourite free activity?
- Walking around Boston
- Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, Washington
- Going to the beach with our friends on Lake Michigan, Evanston and going on my mum’s cousin’s boat in Connecticut so we could see Manhattan from the water
- She gave me the same answer as her sister directly above
What did you think of Couchsurfing? (We stayed in one place on Grand Island, Niagara Falls)
- Good, the people were really nice and we had a real cabin. I liked that we were in separate accommodation
- It was fine because we didn’t sleep in someone’s home (strangers) but I wouldn’t do it again. I don’t like sleeping in a stranger’s home, I think we got lucky.
- I loved that, it was really fun, I liked the people, they were so welcoming and kind
- Really nice people, I loved the BBQs and catching frogs with their dog on their nice property
Did you enjoy staying in the Airbnbs or not? (We stayed in Vernon, CT, Valley Stream, NY and Capitol Heights, MD)
- The one in Washington felt old and dirty (it wasn’t dirty, just a bit dated, dark and musty as it was a basement apartment, however, it was very spacious and convenient to the centre of town).
- Those were all really good but the one in New York was very small and not very private. (This was small but the price reflected that, it had no separate entrance from the main house but was spotlessly clean).
- All nice but the one in New York felt a bit squashed.
- Not really, I preferred staying in people’s houses.
Out of 27 nights in the USA, we stayed in Airbnb’s for only 7 nights and we Couchsurfed for 2. The rest of the time we stayed with friends, or friends of friends.
How much do you think the whole month’s holiday cost us, including flights, accommodation, car hire, food, gas and spending money?
- 4000 euro
- 4000 euro
- 3000 euro
- 15-17 000 euro
The first two are closest but none are close.
What would you like to do more of next time?
- Spend more time in the cities
- Would have liked to do more shopping, I came home with some pocket money
- Stay longer with people we only saw for one night
- More activities and going to the beach and less walking/sightseeing or going on trains
What has this trip to the USA taught you?
- I appreciate my friends back home more. I never thought I would miss them this much, I’m already dreading when they finish school because then they’ll be gone for longer.
- Lots of things about the USA and their culture that I never knew eg the way people act.
- Americans are very friendly. The longer you drive, the more you get used to it so now long distances in Ireland feel short to me.
- I think I learned to be more polite to people because everyone there was so polite to me.
These were the most interesting answers for me to hear. I felt just like my youngest in her final answer, we experienced such gracious hospitality that it taught me how valuable it is to extend generosity, especially to strangers.
If we go back, what would you like to see next time?
- Los Angeles
- The West Coast
- Universal Studios
This is the next post in a series of interviews with my kids, you can read my previous interviews here:
- I ask my kids some questions about friendship
- I ask my kids some questions about living on a deserted island
- I ask my kids some questions about the future
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