ENCINITAS, Calif. — Family, faith and travel are three words that describe Lex Brinton's childhood. Whether it was road tripping to Montana, Kentucky or New Jersey, it didn't matter, Sunday clothes were packed and the entire family came along.
Growing up, Brinton's family traveled to 50 states within five summers, traveling with all seven children. Some trips were in their Suburban, other times they rented an RV. Sometimes they got lost, other times they forgot their tent. Every time they made memories and documented their experiences.
The Walker family visits Memphis, Tennessee. | Provided by Lex Brinton
"I learned everything from traveling," Brinton said. "I learned how to navigate, I learned how to read maps, I learned how to drive, I learned how to be in close quarters with people you might not get along with but you have to. I learned respect."
"We don’t want to just be a duffel bag brand, we want to be a community to let families know they can do it," Brinton said. "And that when they do go on these travels that it’s going to be worth it. Not every minute of it, no. I’m not trying to portray perfect travel for everyone because that’s not realistic. But in the end, you’re going to look back at your photo album of these trips and be like, we did it!"
When asked why they would choose to travel to so many places with young children, Brinton's parents, Twayne and Bug Walker say, "Why not?" Although many stops were made along the way, the Walkers wouldn't trade the memories they've made.
It all started with road trips from Idaho to Utah. Twayne Walker had just started Beehive Homes, an assisted living facility that has locations in both states. Walker enjoyed taking his children with him on each work road trip.
"He would bribe us with outfits," Brinton said. "'If you come on this road trip with me, I’ll buy you an outfit at the mall.'"
The Walker family visits Ranton, New Mexico. | Provided by Lex Brinton
The small road trips became popular, and the Walker family began traveling to several states each summer. After five years they had road tripped to each state, with one flight to Hawaii.
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brinton's family often road-tripped to historical church sites. From Sharon, Vermont — the birthplace of Joseph Smith — to Nauvoo, Illinois, Brinton's parents, Twayne and Bug Walker, hoped to help strengthen their children's testimonies while making memories as a family.
Attending different wards while traveling also provided opportunities for learning.
"Faith is the same everywhere," Brinton said. "Some of our greatest Sundays have been spent on the road. You get to see different environments, the same religion, but sometimes it’s practiced differently in different areas, but the faith is the same."
Throughout their travels, Brinton also learned about compassion and service. When traveling in Canada, Brinton's family got lost and was unable to find any rooms available at nearby hotels. Twayne Walker called the local branch president who got them in contact with a local mission president. The mission president opened up his home to the Walkers for the night.
The Walker family visits the Laie Hawaii Temple. | DProvided by Lex Brinton
"When the trip doesn’t go as planned, that’s when it’s more memorable," Brinton said.
Now with more than 20 grandchildren, the Walker family continues its tradition by spending vacation time each summer together. Just a few years ago, Twayne Walker challenged every member of his family to memorize all 13 Articles of Faith. To those who completed his challenge, he promised a trip to Disneyland.
"My nieces and nephews that were 4 years old had them all memorized and could recite all of them," Brinton said.
Twayne Walker rented a charter bus for everyone to travel in, and placed their family picture as a sticker on each side of the bus.
Looking back at her childhood, Brinton believes her family's travels were successful because their expectations were simple.
Lex Brinton and her husband Warren pose with their two children. | Provided by Lex Brinton
"I know we can’t illuminate all of the distractions — because I’m the first one who gives an iPad to my kid if he’s not happy," Brinton said. "But if we eliminate the unnecessary stress of travel, then that’s when you get to focus on one another, and that’s the most important."
In traveling with her own children, Brinton hopes to teach similar lessons that she learned growing up. However, while in New York just a few months ago, Brinton's young daughter did the teaching.
"I could hear somebody giggling like 15 people down on a busy subway station and I look down and see the one person on the train that I probably wouldn’t talk to, and my daughter who’s only 10 months old is making eyes and flirting with this homeless man, covered in tattoos," Brinton said. "He’s flirting back with her and they’re laughing, and I’m like, ‘See, even she can make friends with everybody.’ So then it makes me strike up a conversation with them. I feel like through travel my kids are teaching me more and I’m gaining more out of being their parent than they’re even gaining. They’re teaching me to be tolerant, they’re teaching me to be respectful and they’re teaching me to take life slowly, because that’s what you have to do when you’re traveling with kids. You have to soak it in."
Having "grown up in a car," Brinton explained her desire for her brand to be realistic, and a way for families to see travel as an adventure.
"The happiest we are as a family is in the car road tripping, and also our most stressed out unhappy times as a family are when we are in a car road tripping," Brinton said. "I think that if you choose to remember the good times, you’re able to push through the hard times."