I believe with all my heart and soul that travel makes our lives richer.
My husband and I were both born and raised in California, but met after college while living in Seattle. A work transfer took us to Texas in 2010, but we continued to spend our summers in Seattle because, well… if you’ve ever experienced a summer in Houston, you’ll know that you want to be anywhere but the deep south from June-August. *Houston in June is like laying on the sun, while wrapping yourself up in a wet soggy blanket.
When we had twins in May 2011, we knew that we’d have to wait until they were 6 weeks old and healthy to travel. The minute they were cleared, we were on a plane!
Our kiddos have been around the world~ not because we live a life of luxury with financial freedom, but because we save and plan and want them to know that the world is entirely accessible~ and really just a flight away. When the twins were 3, and our oldest daughter 6, we decided to spend the entire summer in Paris. We rented a flat, packed one suitcase per person and trekked across the world. The second day there, before we were even unpacked, my husband boarded a train to Italy for business and left us girls to figure things out for ourselves. As crazy as it was, we did it. This meant that I had to google translate the directions on how to use the washer & dryer in the apartment (I washed my clothes 7 times before I figured out how to make the dryer work). It also meant that I made my 3 year old drink a cup of heavy cream (I thought it was milk….. errrr, it wasn’t). It meant walking 5 blocks to the grocery store along cobblestoned streets with a rolling cart to hunt down the closest thing to cheerios and pop tarts.
Each day I felt less vulnerable and more empowered. I quickly learned that one of my twins liked being a “big kid” and wanted to walk up and down every set of stairs throughout the city, while the other twin could not keep her eyes open after two hours out. The solution to this problem was ordering a baby bjorn from Amazon Fr. and wearing one twin on my back, while holding the other twins’s hand. Hefting a 3 year old around on your back all day sounds as daunting as it actually was~ but it was also so much easier to keep one strapped to me! And let’s face it, moms like to make things efficient.
That summer showed me life with kids doesn’t mean that you stop doing the things you love. When you experience travel with your children, and it adds a layer of depth and happiness that you never could have imagined. It means redefining the word ‘vacation.’ Traveling with littles means that it won’t be glamorous, it won’t be relaxing, it won’t be predictable. It will be messy and frustrating and will require twice the patience. But the reward is extraordinary. The reward is in sharing midnight orders of room service because you’re all jet lagged, it’s in impromptu ice skating sessions because you happened to pass by an open rink on your trek to the museum. It’s experiencing the metro with a sense of wonder and awe, rather than annoyance. Children have the ability to see what we often miss.
So instead of saying “one day”, start planning. Don’t wait. Tomorrow is not a guarantee. Take the trip.
Jen McDonald is a modern calligrapher and home stylist based in Houston, Texas. She has traveled with her husband and children to Rome, Florence, Venice, Paris, London, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Boston, New York City, Nantucket, Charleston, Austin, San Antonio, Napa, San Francisco, Cannon Beach, Los Angeles, San Diego, Hawaii. They are currently planning their next “nerd trip” to the Grand Canyon.
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