forest-386751_640The freedom of nice weather--and a break from school--has arrived once again. For many of us that means time to shake off the routine and maybe even hit the road for an adventure.

But as exciting as all that sounds, the concept of traveling can often be daunting-- with packing and planning and budgets -- then add a troop of kids to the mix and it can seem downright unpleasant.

While it's true that toting little ones around the state--or country--comes with its own unique set of challenges (seven bathroom stops in a single hour, anyone?) look a little closer and you might find that some of those "inconveniences" are harboring hidden benefits.

Kids are slow. Honestly, you can probably pack the entire car for a week long trip in the time it takes a four-year-old to put on their shoes. And don't even try to stop for a quick bite to eat once you've hit the road--90 minutes later you will realize you've unwittingly entered a slowest eating competition and your kids are winning.

It can be infuriating--don't these people realize we're on a timeline here? As you wait for the 8-year-old to methodically lather every finger at that grimy public bathroom sink, your adventure is slipping away!

But maybe--just maybe-- all those little things that take up so much time are an important part of the adventure.

The thing is, kids force us to slow down and experience travel in a different way. It's not just about rushing from one destination to the next, but rather enjoying, and more fully absorbing, the journey itself.

Stopping to nurse or change the baby--again--can be tedious but it gets us out of the car and into the actual places we have chosen to travel to.

Whether it's a sweet sun-dappled park or rocky cliff-side rest stop on the side of the road, the sights, smells and sounds of a place become infinitely more clear and present, and memories become that much brighter in our minds, when we are moving at a child's pace.

Kids are curious. We know this to be true anywhere--at home, at the park, everywhere. Of course, this inquisitive nature comes along, and often multiplies, while traveling.

And while this is not so desirable when your 6-year-old just has to find out what's stuck to the underside of the picnic table you're eating at, it can bring some unexpected benefits.

By constantly wanting to know what, why and how our kids bring us out of our own comfort zones.

Where does that path go?

How many legs does that giant bug have?

Why can't we go play volleyball with those strangers, why?

We are called upon to be more reflective and mindful of the world around us when answering these seemingly simple questions again and again. Things that you might never consider doing, like picking up that giant bug or following that unknown path, may seem more possible when seen through a new lens. A lens provided by a few brave, smart and cool traveling buddies--your kids.