Just in time for summer: Our ultimate Catholic road trips

Nothing beats a road trip. The excitement of planning. The car games. The singing. The stopping for snacks and to see the sights. Probably like yours, my family spent a lot of time traveling by car. In fact, I never flew until I was 9, when my family moved to Europe for two years. My dad liked to drive — not to mention it was a lot cheaper — so we drove.

And with grandparents who lived hundreds of miles away, this made for quite a bit of quality family time in the car. I still remember my dad reaching from the driver’s seat down into the backseat behind him where he would grab my ankle and squeeze it affectionately.

That’s not to say our trips were all smiles and roses. With three kids in the back seat, we had our fair share of thrown elbows and proprietary back-seat behavior (“you’re on my side!”). But for the most part, our road trips were a chance for family bonding, for seeing the sights and for doing something a little different.

That history of road trips — which continues to this day — is probably why I love this week’s In Focus (Pages 9-12, online June 10) so much. It takes the best of summer road-tripping — vacation, time with family, sightseeing — and wraps it into a package enhanced all the more with faith.

Building upon seven routes in different areas of the country that are common for road trips, the article then adds a Catholic flair with stops at basilicas, shrines, chapels, historic parks, monasteries and even delicious eateries. There’s truly something for everyone.

Of course the routes don’t have to be followed exactly as listed. But the suggestions within them leave open endless possibilities for your own vacation planning and travel.

It’s seemingly a minor thing, but I am certain that incorporating the Faith into family vacations — into something that kids and adults alike understand to be “fun” and part and parcel of what it means to be a growing human being — is indispensable.

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By stopping at a shrine while on the way to a ballgame, or visiting a basilica en route to a national park, faith is reinforced as part of daily living. And since you’ll be stopping for Sunday Mass anyway, why not plan your stop around one of the many remarkable Catholic sights in the country? It can only be a win-win.

Now that you’ve seen our recommendations, we would love to hear from you about your favorite Catholic road-trip sights. Where have you made planned stops? What sights have you happened upon without realizing they were there? Have you noticed a difference when you incorporate the faith into vacations?

Share your experiences with me via email at feedback@osv.com, and we’ll be sure to print your suggestions on our Letters to the Editor page in coming weeks. That way, we can all benefit from each others’ learned experiences.

Have a wonderful, safe and happy summer — and be sure to work in a Catholic road trip!

Gretchen R. Crowe is editor-in-chief of OSV Newsweekly. Follow her on Twitter @GretchenOSV.