Our Bags Are Packed And We’re Ready to Go

suitcasesIn fact, I’ve been halfway there since we booked our first, family overseas trip back in September. Because for me, one of the hardest things about settling down and starting a family has been, well, settling down…

Truth be told, I’d much rather be traveling the world, meeting new people and exploring different cultures, or at least still doing that WHILE having a family. Don’t get me wrong, the kid journey can be pretty amazing too but I’ve been eagerly waiting to have them participate in the bigger journey pretty much since I first conceived our daughter, 8 years ago.

Prior to that time, the world was an open road waiting to be explored. In our twenties, both DH and I did a fair amount of traveling in some pretty extreme locations, predominantly Asia but some in the Middle East too. We carried backpacks and our Angus MacGyver tool was the multipurpose sarong (which doubled as: a dress, a scarf, a sheet, a towel, a curtain). We thirsted for third-world travel, where we found life stripped away at its rawest and yet most complicated state.

Traveling became part of who we were and what drew us to one another, then also how we grew together. Now that we’re married, kids do the same thing for us.

When our daughter was a year-and-a-half, we took her to China for two months but we didn’t really travel, we just sort of existed. Since then the furthest we’ve gone are on “vacations” in Mexico and Canada. Very first world destinations, not traveling.

And I don’t mean to be misleading, because this trip that we’ve been waiting 8 years to go on, which has been gestating for 9 months and arrives today, is certainly not travel either. At least not like the kind we did in our twenties.

We won’t be traveling by rikshaw, or camel or on the roof of any rickety buses winding up precarious mountain roads. We aren’t back packing, or trekking or subsisting on $5 a day. Unlikely we’ll barter for accommodations, or souvenirs or transport. We won’t be staying in dorm-style hostels or eating copious amounts of dal bhat or ordering off the same English menu everywhere in the country. We probably won’t encounter Giardia, bed bugs or monkey bites and we didn’t need any special inoculations to go where we’re going.

But it’s not exactly vacationing either…

What we will have is a crazy nice rental car, a medieval dinner in a castle, a tour of one of the World’s finest crystal factories. We will see one of only 15 Da Vinci’s in the world, London from the top of the world (or at least 442 feet up), and rainbows on a daily basis…maybe even a leprechaun or two.carryon

We won’t have back packs but we won’t have wheeled luggage either. Thanks to Ryanair—the uber-discount carrier out of Ireland and their ridiculously low ticket prices (but equally ridiculous baggage restrictions)—we will have three carry-ons between the four of us…and one day-pack.

We’re traveling light, long (a 3-week vacation by American standards is a good start) and limited. We will be in three countries during our three weeks but all of our flights and accommodations have been carefully coordinated. We’re applying our budget travel sensibilities to our modern-family lifestyle.

We used frequent flyer miles (acquired through DH’s many long hours away in the corporate world) for the bulk of our ticket costs and then discount carriers Ryanair and Easy Jet for intercontinental flights. For accommodations, we’re staying with family, at lesser known guesthouses or apartments rented through Airbnb. For food we won’t eat every meal out, we’ll cruise the markets, cook in and try to eat like locals. But we’ll eat out more than we usually do.

Our hope is that through this seemingly easy, primarily English speaking, first-world travel experience, we will succeed in introducing our kids to the world beyond our neighborhood, outside of our town, past the Boston wharves and out into the great wide-open.

By traveling within our 4 and 7-year-olds’ comfort zones, we hope we are also challenging them. Challenging them to try new foods (which of our three countries has the best ice cream?), hear different ways of saying common things: Mind the Gap vs Watch your Step, and be more attuned to the sights, smells, sounds and sensations around them.

The most important thing I want our kids to take away from this adventure is that life is about the journey, not the destination.

I want us to come back enriched, enthused and united. I want my husband to unplug from the challenges of work and engage in the exciting problem solving skills needed to buy picnic items at an outdoor market in Poland. I want our kids to tune in to the way non-Americans do things and find out what works for them and what doesn’t.

I’m not unique in my quest, most of my friends over at World Moms Blog have the same desires for their kids. Many of them are still living the traveler lifestyle and rearing offspring along the way or live in third-world countries and are raising their kids to be in tune with what its like to have and have-not.

But this is our start to a journey I hope lasts for the rest of my kids’ lives. I want them to be global citizens and to be empathetic to other perspectives and sensitive to different opinions. I want them to have a voice and experience and trained eyes on cultural issues and nuances and sensibilities.

So it may be a small step or just a “hop across the Pond” as we say in the Sates but as the Chinese proverb goes: “a thousand mile journey begins with a single step.”

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Wanderlustress
    Jun 26, 2013 @ 10:18:07

    Bon voyage! I’m very excited for all of you!!!

    Reply

    • growingmuses
      Aug 10, 2013 @ 18:46:46

      Thanks Wanderlustress. It was a magnificent journey. I wrote about a very small fraction of it for World Moms Blog but need to dive in more here. The journey hasn’t ended…only just begun.

      Reply

  2. slightlywonky
    Jun 26, 2013 @ 16:44:13

    HAVE FUN!!! I can’t wait to hear ALL ABOUT IT on your return. Looking forward to seeing pictures too…xoxo e.

    Reply

    • growingmuses
      Aug 10, 2013 @ 18:48:31

      Yes, I am looking forward to seeing pictures too. Or I guess more appropriate to say, DOING something with all the pictures. I need to get things down on screen (in a blogging kinda way) about the trip. It was eye-opening and rewarding. It continues to surface almost on a daily basis and the education of it all was well worth the effort. More soon!

      Reply

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