Voices: A Tribute to My Traveling Parents

Today, ROAM moves on without two big pieces of its heart: Carolann and Dennis Jones were more than just “Mom” and “Dad,” they were role models for traveling parents everywhere.

Long before LA families flew to zipline in Costa Rica, we made day trips to Huntington Beach, Lake Havasu, and the San Gabriel Mountains. These adventures did not require gear-buying at REI or a Yeti Tundra; we had plenty of fun with our stack of thread-bare beach towels, a surf rider to share, and a wheel-less Coleman cooler stocked with tuna sandwiches and Shasta sodas.

Our summer vacations never involved airplanes or cruise ships. They were the one week a year when we packed the car and headed for Lake Tahoe, Crater Lake, Rosarito Beach, or Aunt Dee’s farm in Iowa – once making the 4,000-mile-round trip in a teensy Datsun B210 – while mom was pregnant!

Having slept in a dresser drawer and in the car on trips to visit family in the Midwest, dad never put camping on our itinerary – even to save money. The cheapest motel in Wall, South Dakota? Yes. A tent? Not on your life.

Whether it was “I’m going to Europe with my boyfriend” at 19, “I’m quitting my job and going to live in Asia” at 23, or “We’re taking the kids to Africa” at 50, my strict parents never pitched the protest I predicted. I think they understood and shared my need to ROAM, and were happy their kids could run around more easily than they ever could. “The world is smaller now,” my dad would say – but I know the reality was that for their generation and socioeconomic status, going to Vietnam, Honduras or Syria required a draft card or a trust fund.

So it is with intense love, gratitude, and admiration that I pay tribute to my dad, my mom, and all traveling parents who take the time to leave the office, make the reservations, pack the bags, fight the crowds, spend the money, and do the clean-up so that their kids can enjoy fond memories of time together, new people, and beautiful places.

They inspire us to remember family travel is not about the “where,” it is about the “why” – and that is why we ROAM.



by Maryann Jones Thompson, ROAM Founder, July 2018

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Keywords: family vacation, family travel, travel with kids, dennis lee jones, carolann dolores jones, why travel with kids


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