Why the Mom-Son Road Trip is Our New Tradition

Half Moon Bay, CA, Tyler and Me, July 2014, Mom-Son Road Trip

Your children need your presence more than your presents. ~Jesse Jackson



It started early in January of 1999 when my first son was a couple of weeks old. I had learned to change diapers from the hospital nurses, and I’d mastered the art of the midnight change. And somewhere in the midst of the sleep, alone-time, and shower deprivation, I realized it all was going way too fast. My son was growing, eating, thriving — all things he was supposed to be doing — and yet I yearned for a way to pause it, to soak in his first attempts at smiles, the smells and the feel of his tiny grasp on mine. Time still marched onward.

Jennifer Lyn King
Me, 11mo Tyler, and Jesse our Boxer, 1999

I count myself lucky. I’ve gotten to be around for the first teeth, the first loose tooth, the first bicycle ride, the first day of preschool, kindergarten, middle, and even high school.

Joy in the simple things, Tyler at 11 months
Joy in the simple things, Tyler at 11 months

And now my first son, about to start his 10th grade year of high school, is taking SAT and driver’s training classes. He’s several inches taller than me (and I’m 5’11”). And he’s working hard and spreading his wings.

He’s doing just what he’s supposed to be doing: he’s growing up.

The Mom-Son Road Trip

I think there is a magical opportunity at 15 years of age when a teenager can’t quite drive on their own yet, but has begun to focus on specific interests. After listening to others who have experience and opinions about doing the same type of trip with their children, fifteen-years-of-age seems to be the perfect time.

Our family enjoys having family dinners around a big table, every night we can. Sometimes we talk about where we’d like to travel next. My oldest son, for the past year, has repeatedly expressed interest in seeing California. And I credit my husband for latching onto that nugget, and especially for encouraging me to take that trip with our oldest son.

Where did he want to go? California. And so, with a couple of frequent flyer plane tickets and hotel stays in hand, we made that trip come true last week.

Truly, it was amazing. We drove oodles of miles (LA – Monterey / Salinas – San Francisco / Sausalito – Los Angeles – San Diego / Coronado) and dipped our toes into as many beaches, sands, and places along the Pacific as we could. But most of all, we were there, together.

Half Moon Bay, CA, Tyler and Me, July 2014, Mom-Son Road Trip
Half Moon Bay, CA, Tyler and Me, July 2014, Mom-Son Road Trip (his black eye courtesy of high school basketball)

The memories will last a lifetime.

I am so grateful.

3 Reasons Why I’m Making the Mom – 15yo Son Road Trip a Family Tradition:

1. To slow down the clock. My boys are growing up too fast.


Salinas, CA, July 2014, Mom-Son Road Trip
Salinas, CA (Steinbeck-land), July 2014, Mom-Son Road Trip

2. To seize the opportunity to step out of time and routine.

We must take adventures to know where our hearts truly belong. We must take adventures together to know who holds our hearts.

3. To go someplace / travel somewhere he’s never been, show him a world beyond what he knows and make memories for a lifetime.


Mom-Son Road Trip, the experience of a lifetime
Mom-Son Road Trip, the experience of a lifetime

My other two younger sons may choose to go tent camping beside the local river (entirely possible!), and that’s okay. I think the most important part of the entire experience is to actually BE THERE. To stop time and do something special, beyond the normal everyday, beyond sports trips or family trips or other reasons to go someplace, and to actually go where they want. That is presence.

I feel it deeply, but this is one thing I’ve done in my life that by the end, I know I will look back and smile upon. It’s one of the most important things I’ve done in my life: the Mom-15yo Son Road Trip.

It was the best possible gift — time together with my son. Unforgettable. Priceless. I’m grateful.


Published by Jennifer Lyn Art

About Jennifer Writer Author Photographer Artist Corporate Marketer Happy Wife & Mom World Traveler Grateful.

25 thoughts on “Why the Mom-Son Road Trip is Our New Tradition

  1. Jennifer, oh how I love this tradition! Thank you so much for planting the seed and sharing these beautiful photos and memories. Gorgeous.

  2. Beautiful article Jennifer! So glad you got to have that time with Tyler and make memories that will last forever!

    1. We all loved our Boxer, Jesse. She would let our boys “ride” her like a horse, pull them in the wagon and sled, and protected them like a mother. We miss her– I love hearing one was part of your family, too! Thank you, Stacey!

  3. What a cool mom you are! When I was 15, quality time with my mom was being yanked out of bed on a Saturday morning to accompany her to the grocery store (“You consume most of this, so you ought to at least push a cart and carry it home.”). Remind him of this. As often as necessary. πŸ˜‰

    1. I don’t know if cool is the right word, but I’ll say thank you, Vaughn. That means a lot. It is so hard to be a parent. Trying to appreciate each of my boys for who they are, to soak them up, but also hoping not to make them feel guilty when it’s time for them to leave home. Instead, hoping to give them the confidence to spread their wings. I definitely don’t have answers, but I’m truly grateful for this experience. πŸ™‚ Thank you!

  4. Absolutely fabulous and couldn’t agree more, Jennifer! I took a similar trip with my then 15-year-old daughter (to Paris) and we talk about it all the time. As you say: “I think the most important part of the entire experience is to actually BE THERE.” YES!! Love this piece so much!

  5. The college road trips are also terrific because they’re full of discussions about what is importNt to the child, does this school match their dreams, what do they regret–along with laughing at your boring stories about choosing and going to college! πŸ™‚

    Great idea!

  6. Actually being PRESENT with our children is one of the most important gifts that we can give them. LOVE this tradition Jennifer! My son is a senior this year and I’m trying to make the clock slow down and soak in every moment! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Great tradition to get started with your oldest son. And I agree – memories you will cherish for generations to come. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Several years ago I took my son on a trip to Europe. We had lived there when he was small but moved home before he started 1st grade. He later took 5 years of French in school and was a year away from graduating from college. This was his college graduation present–a little early. I thought he deserved to see Paris (after all those years of French) and wanted him to see what he was too young to remember. (We visited Paris, the Lauterbrunen Valley in Switzerland, Nuremberg, and Prague.) It wasn’t a luxury trip–we used sky miles to get there, stayed in a hostel two nights of the trip and ate budget meals. It was, however, something I will never forget. Spending time with my son was priceless and worth every penny I spent. He married 8 months later, and I’m so glad we had the chance to squeeze in this trip before he “left home” forever.

    FYI: I finished reading Villa Triste just moments ago and loved it! Thanks for recommending it on GNB.

    1. Wow, Kim — that is wonderful to hear about your trip with your son through Europe. I agree. It doesn’t have to be a luxury trip (we stayed in some really-not-great hotels), but it is the time and presence and adventure that matter. Thank you for sharing your experience!

      And, I’m so glad to hear that you loved Villa Triste! It’s one of my favorites. πŸ™‚

  9. I really enjoyed this post Jennifer! I hope to share a similar experience with each of my daughters as well. My eldest is nearly 13 and I see the growth and expansion that has occurred in this year…maintaining a close relationship and making memories will feed a soul for a lifetime. I know before I am ready, I will see them fly off on their own journeys… away from here…but the bond that we have and will continue to nurture, will transcend all space. Thank you for sharing your journey and being an inspiration!

  10. This actually made me tear up a little. I love my road trips with he kids, but I never thought about taking one alone with a fifteen year-old (my oldest is thirteen). I love the idea! And California, wow. When I was reading I thought you were going to share that you drove there, on top of your other road trip! Great pictures – your boy looks very happy to be traveling with his momma.

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