When my husband and I would camp without kids, the destination could be anywhere. A five-hour drive in the car just meant blaring our music, lots of heart-to-heart chats and maybe a stop for a snack along the way. Now, with kids, it means holding my breath the entire time that someone is going to have a meltdown in the car that no “Little Mermaid” dvd or AquaDoodle can fix.

I’ve come to loath car rides that last longer than two hours. I can’t entertain two children in the back seat for that length of time. I can only sing “Head, Shoulder, Knees and Toes” so many time before I actually want to sever my own vocal chords. We have found, however, that we can still get away without having to drive that far to do it.

Before it seemed that we had to cross a certain threshold to feel like we were on vacation, but now, that’s just a state of mind for us. We can go 45 minutes up the road to a campsite and feel like we’ve driven for hours.

We’ve found some great local state parks that make us feel disconnected without the pain of pulling the plug.

LakePort State Park
Algonac State Park
Sterling State Park (though you’ll want to watch out for skunks)
Seven Lakes State Park
Metamora State Park

It is what you make of it. Think of it as a kid. An hour in the car feels like an eternity to a two-year-old, and with them, it probably does to you too. Consider the frame of reference that you are away from your house, away from your job, away from your responsibilities and enjoying nature with your family. That will take you away!

Detroit Mommies Expert Contributor
Courtney is the traveling mom! She has 3 girls and is the founder of Detroit Mommies and currently lives in Florida. You can follow her on Twitter @courtneyRVL.