Road trips give us an opportunity to experience new things and try new foods.

It’s a given: if you’re going to a new place, you’re going to see/hear/smell/taste/feel new things.

I grew up on the road, or at least it seemed that way. I remember family vacations from the backseat and seeing the mile markers pass by. What’s round on both sides and high in the middle? OHIO.

I remember “camping out” in the covered bed of my aunt and uncle’s truck, as we traveled up to Niagra Falls, and fighting for space with my cousins.

I remember my mom periodically going back and forth from North Carolina to New York to visit family. Even now, I could probably drive I95 in my sleep.

Somewhere along the way, I grew to love the road and the adventures it brings.

And I’m passing that down to the kid.

Our first traveling experiences were of necessity. Traveling with such a sensory-sensitive kid was very difficult – and I really tried to avoid it as much as possible. Heck, I tried to avoid a trip to the local grocery store, if I could. New places were a trial. Grin and bear through the brutally embarrassing, not to mention exhausting, moments that always came when he was overstimulated, which – back then – happened at the drop of a hat.

And then, as I understood him more and as I decided on what was important for us as a family, I realized that traveling would definitely be a necessity. A way to get away. Fresh air for me. An opportunity to learn for him. A way to bond with each other, as we dealt with the challenges that were sure to come.

And they came – often very messy challenges that required me to find deeper levels of patience.

Understanding grew with each trip – what worked and how we worked together, and how small bladders worked (and how often they need to be emptied).

I still remember that first time at a rest stop in Delaware when I felt like we were a team, a well-oiled machine, managing the crowd to accomplish our goals (pee breaks and new drinks) in order to get back on the road as soon as possible.

He looked at me and grinned when it was all over, and we shared a high five.

“We did good, Buddy. Nice job!”

And now, we’re road trip veterans. North and back south, south to come back north, and out west to return east. He’s learned to keep himself busy, to speak up when he’s got to go, to rest when it’s time for sleep – and to stay open to new places and flavors. He’s learned to anticipate the newness and keep himself open to what’s coming, because we’ve had practice dealing with disappointment and making the best of what’s in front of us.

Although, he still prefers for me to stop at a place where they serve French fries. I suppose we’re all allowed our preferences.