So we have returned from our annual family vacation – I’m back at work, the kids have one week left before school starts, and my wife has the absolute pleasure of coordinating the back to school festivities. Dentist appointments, vaccinations, clothes, shoes, school supplies, and most importantly, scheduling!
Forget the programming of extra-curricular activities and sports programs, because that is just going to have to wait… So many commitments, and such little precious time.
You get it!
But normally, I do not like to speak publicly about personal matters, however this summer’s vacation is worth sharing not because of what we did, but because of how we did it.
This was our 4th summer in Europe. As a family. We plan the trips in October / November and in the summer we pack as little as possible into backpacks, and we go and explore the world.
Since we are a family of 5, staying in a hotel is not a viable option, so we resort to using Air BnB’s so we have choice of location, a kitchen and sometimes other exciting amenities, such as a pool.
With the kitchen we avoid the costly dinners out and instead hit up local grocery stores and eat breakfast and dinner we’ve made ourselves and if we decide not to pack lunch, we can eat out before heading back for a siesta.
This summer took us to Dublin, Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, Seville, and London with many stops along the way via the train, or the car we rented for a week.
We don’t have a home base for the entire trip, instead we stay in places for anywhere from 2-5 days before moving on. Each new country, city, town bring a new experience and the excitement of a new place which might be better (or worse) than the previous one.
We’ve yet to be disappointed.
I’d say after 5-years of family travels, the one disappointing place we stayed at was in Rome 2-years ago which was in a fabulous location, but the Air Conditioning didn’t work and it was during a hot spell, where the average temperature was 45 degrees Celsius.
This year also represented the first year that our bags were lost during a transfer at airports, and our bags were lost twice, the final time, only 3 of our 5 bags made it home. The final bag arrived 3 days after us.
Kudos to my wife for planting the seed of travel into our kids. Imagine taking a 4-year-old back-packing as we did 3-years ago, through Paris, the south of France, Amsterdam and Belgium. She was an absolute trooper. No strollers, just walking, looking at art, and enjoying ourselves.
Now at the ripe age of 7, she’s a pro.
I encourage parents to explore travel with their children to introduce them to how the rest of the world lives. Sure, we had gone on a family cruise before, and we took the kids to Disney, but before we headed overseas, we explored the East coast of Canada – New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and PEI – to see if we would do driving trips overseas and after that success, we took the plunge.
I love that my oldest can easily navigate the Paris Metro, or the London Underground. Even the Seville Metro and Brussels subway pose no issues with him. Our middle child has found an appreciation for art, museums, and the food and drink that other places have to offer. He’s in his element wherever he is, and that warms my heart.
Our youngest, my daughter… Such a trooper, and with a strength in languages, she enjoys what we all enjoy… the sites, the food, the language… the experience.
As someone who had to find ways to cope with some significant undiagnosed anxiety in my life, the travel bug has bitten me and I look forward to the flights, train rides, and bus, tram and subway rides because of what they bring. New experiences, new adventures and quality family time!
For those who knew of our travels, we appreciated the texts and messages as we were in Barcelona one week before that horrible murderous act by a group of criminals. We were on the exact stop where the van came to rest. We also were at Buckingham Palace in London a day before some mentally unstable resident showed up with a 4-foot sword there.
But it’s great to be back home, back in Canada, back to the greatest country in the world.