“Travel while you’re young…before you have kids.” How many times have we heard this seemingly sage advice handed down from those who’ve gone before us? We take this simple statement, twist it up a bit in our minds, and assume it to mean, “Only travel while you are young, and do not, for any reason, attempt to travel once you have kids.”
We are left believing that, following the arrival of our progeny, to go anywhere other than the local grocery store would mean our ultimate demise. This well-intended wisdom has an unfortunate outcome. It scares us. It gives us a timeline, an hour-glass draining away the seconds we have left to see the world before we will be abruptly halted for 18 years, maybe longer – because what, in fact, will happen if we should dare to travel after we have kids?
And so many new parents, wishing to avoid public ridicule and our own nervous breakdowns, keep pretty close to home those first years post-baby. We chase our kiddos around the yard or the community playground or if we are really daring – an indoor waterpark – and we dream of a time when we can finally take a real vacation.
Surprisingly enough, you don’t actually have to wait. It’s just that your vision of a real vacation might need to evolve. While it is, of course, exciting (and easier) to travel before the pressures of careers and families take over, contrary to popular opinion, it is not impossible to enjoy traveling with kids. You will need to change your expectations, lower them quite a bit in fact, and prepare yourself as best you can for something a little different, a little uglier, a little more memorable.
You might just discover that this new kind of real is even better than the complimentary drinks and smooth sailing real you had in mind. This new kind of real feels less like a postcard and more like an out-take, which actually makes this new kind of real vacation feel a little more, well, real.
Just because the kids have come, doesn’t mean the adventures have to go. So there might be a few more zoos on your itinerary than nightclubs, and there will likely be at least one meal with a stellar view of the McDonald’s PlayPlace, but these are small concessions to make when there is such an enormous world to explore. The truth is that you can show that world to your children, and seeing it reflected back to you through their eyes is kind of more amazing than witnessing it first-hand.