How Caribbean Moms “Road Trip”

The fridge the night before a road trip. Photo Credit: Eva Wilson

We took a lot of road trips when I was young. We traveled to see family friends up and down the east coast, took trips to amusement parks like Disney World, and short trips to nearby Hilton Head, SC.  When we traveled to see family in Trinidad when I was 16, my aunt took the teenagers took a little road trip to a wonderful secluded beach. This time when we took the kids to Trinidad for the first time, we spent a couple hours in the car and took a quick trip to spend the day at a really great beach.

On our road trips in Trinidad, I noticed several parallels between our road trips growing up, and the road trips I take with my family now. I could assume that it is a Caribbean thing, but I am sure that many elements of the Caribbean mom’s road trip happens in other cultures as well.  If you notice similarities, or differences in your own road trips, tell us about them in the comments.

1. Organize. Great organization is something that I noticed that all the Caribbean moms who planned the road trips, long or short, had in common.  They were up early in the morning and transport, routes, pit stops, meals, gear, and everything in between was planned out – ready for flawless execution.  Soccer balls, music, towels, trash bags, changes of clothes, extra everything – packed and ready to go.  The trunk is to be packed in reverse chronological order so that if we are hitting the beach, for example, swimsuits are on top, then towels, then food – extra clothing and personal items are in backpacks carried by the person who will be using it.  One or two people who are responsible for unpacking and making sure everyone gets what they need when they need it, man the trunk – no one else may go in and upset the system… or inquire about the system… just reap the benefits and enjoy the trip, no questions asked.

2. Only the driver and the navigator really need to know where we are going. Caribbean moms aren’t telling you where you are going, so just let that go.  If you have agreed to take the trip – take the vague instructions, the guarantee that you will have a good time, the hint at the destination, and the honor of being invited, and get in the car. when you are continuously asking questions, that would lead them to believe that you don’t trust their planning skills – or that you are gonna be a problem. Under 18? They better use context clues if they want to figure it out, or just relax and enjoy the trip. I rarely if ever tell my kids a trip is coming up. They didn’t know we were going to Turks and Caicos until we got to the airport. We didn’t tell them about their trip to Disney World, until the night we were leaving, which made for an epic Disney Surprise Video. Road trips? Nah. I tell them to read street signs and figure it out. I tell them that as long as daddy and I know where we are going, they are fine.

3. Take plenty food. This is a rule. There is no getting around this. Shop, prepare food, and pack the fridge the night before, pack the cooler with drinks and food in the morning, and that is that.  There is no stopping for food. Maybe ice, but that is about it. The best part of the trip is the food reveal.  The Caribbean moms have lovingly packed all kinds of foods, snacks, and drinks, and pride themselves on making the beach or the picnic area a home away from home. There are only two goals – (1) have a set up that makes bystanders jealous of your planning skills, and (2) make a meal that will be talked about among family and friends – the epic tale of which will be told far and wide for generations to come. 24 years later we are still talking about the roti my aunt made for our beach trip…

4. The time spent traveling is an important part of the experience. When I was 16, the trip I took to the secluded beach in Trinidad was long and treacherous.  It involved hiking, riding in the back of a truck, and six of us in a tiny boat surrounded by jelly fish. I was chatting with my cousin recently about that trip, and we laughed and laughed about the journey. That was probably the best part of the trip – besides the roti. The time spent in the car doesn’t have to be all “I-spy” and games of “punch buggy.” We had special comedy tapes (I guess now it would be CD’s or iPod playlists or something) that we would have for road trips. Now, we play music that we all love, chair dance, and spend as much time as we can talking.  The kids do have some time on their devices, so that my husband and I can chat about grown folk business (also known as “the boring grown up stuff”) while the kids have their headphones in, but for the most part, we want them to remember the journey as much as they remember the destination.

5. Leave time to relax and enjoy the destination once you arrive. Caribbean moms put in a lot of work before the trip, from planning, to cooking, to packing. It is easy to get caught up in all of the work an not enjoy the destination with your family. Make sure that you have enough time when you get there to kick back, laugh, joke, swim, ski… whatever you came to do… spend time doing it. Whenever we would go to the beach when I was growing up, there was no one on the trip that didn’t take a dip in the water, or jump a wave or two.  The road trip is a lot of work, but the whole purpose is to spend time with the ones you love, and play.

Were your road trips growing up like these? What was different? How do you and your family road trip? Tell us in the comments.