Hello Again!!

Hello! Long time no talk.

I tell you what, summer took its toll. That and a full work, kid, and hobby schedule. And our oldest son starting school.

But we’ve been able to fit in a little travel. And travel hasn’t been far from our planning minds.

One of the hardest things for me is to reign in all my travel ambitions. I have so many places I want to go. So many experiences I want to give my kids. So much food I want to try.

Until now, getting away has been relatively easy for me. I just cram like crazy at work before and after, and all is well. Now we have a school schedule to factor in, and that sure complicates things.

What we don’t have is unlimited funds. And sometimes what we want to do and what we can do don’t jive. We haven’t been overseas with the boys yet this year, and the odds of making it happen aren’t great.

But, hey! I’m rambling.

Sometimes I have to remind myself -

It’s not where we travel as much that we travel. Especially with kids.

Sure, I’d love it if we took a couple long weekends per year around the state. And a couple weeks to visit family throughout the country. And a week somewhere new – by car or plane – around North America. And maybe a couple trips to Europe, somewhere new and somewhere familiar. And then maybe the occasional really far afield trip (something we’ve yet to try.)

That all sounds neat, doesn’t it. Fancy fantasy land.

We’ve actually had some pretty solid runs. I wrote it down the other day. There’s a couple years where we checked off a good portion of that list. How did that happen?

Here’s the key, we didn’t force it. We just kept travel a priority, and we chose our shots.

Sometimes it was a big trip with lots of action. Sometimes we used miles and careful timing to go on the cheap. But we went.

A few factors have complicated things this year. Schedules and a decision to make sure our boy doesn’t miss school in his first year of kindergarten is big factor. Our availability has been very limited. And when you don’t have a flexible schedule, it’s tougher to find good priced tickets. And plane tickets are by far the priciest part of our travels.

Two things I’ll remember to increase our hit rate in the future:

1 – We’ll block time and make priorities much further into the future. This will help us schedule around everything going on in our lives, and it will help us make sure we’re capitalizing on all of our opportunities. Looking back at the first half of the year, we might have gotten that overseas trip scheduled in the spring – back before school when we could be more flexible.

2 – We’ll have fall back plans and we’ll know when to use them. It’s a shame to have availability, time off and a budget, and then not go because the first option is out of reach. That’s what happened to our planned October trip – we waited too long looking for a deal and we didn’t have a back up plan.

Which all comes back to – just travel. Make it a priority wherever it may be.

Next up for us is Thanksgiving. We planned to go visit family in Palm Springs – we’ve never been. Since we’re not going anywhere in October, we’ve decided to extend that trip and make it a genuine road trip, with Santa Fe and some other stops along the way.

And who knows – we might just squeeze that overseas trip in, stay tuned.

Car Travel

Something we don’t touch upon that often is car travel… maybe it’s because it’s not necessarily my favorite way to travel, maybe it’s because it doesn’t get me to places out of my comfort zone or maybe it’s because car travel is hard. Hard? You may ask. Yes – hard. Two years ago we went on our first major car trip with our then just barely three year old and five month old.

We drove to South Dakota. The destination – the Black Hills and beyond. The expected travel time? 11 hours. The actual travel time? 14+ hours. The last two were with a screaming 5-month old in the back seat. You see, driving in the car wasn’t his favorite thing ever. In fact, I think if he could avoid the car it would have been his preference. So being stuck in the car for 14+ hours was not ideal. We didn’t drive “straight through”, we took several breaks for food, stretching, feeding the baby and sightseeing. Even with those stops, it was too much for them. Our older son was happy to have a movie on as long as he got to pick – which we were more than happy to accommodate – but even he couldn’t seem to time his potty breaks with everyone else so we ended up making quite a few extra stops.

Well, even if it isn’t my favorite way to travel we have another trip coming up in the next couple of weeks where we get to drive to South Dakota for another family reunion. The boys are older, they are more excited for the trip and yet I know 2 hours in we will be hearing “are we there yet”… A few things we will be doing to help mitigate the pain of being stuck in the car for a day as we drive to the first stop:

1. Portable DVD player – they’re both old enough to enjoy the distraction of a movie.

2. Snacks – I don’t usually let my kids eat in the car but having a couple of snacks to keep them going when we aren’t quite ready for a stop will be worth it.

3. Family and two cars – the boys will be able to switch vehicles or have people rotate into the car they are mainly stationed in so they can have different company and keep the scenery fresh.

4. An open mind – I know that if Mapquest or Google Maps tell me that it’s going to take 9 hours, with kids I’ll expect 12. Going in with an open mind will help me feel good about getting there in 11 hours thinking I beat my expectation.

5. Plenty of music – my kids love to sing and I do too, that will keep us busy.

6. I will still pack light – Less is Less!! But they will have a few of their favorite toys with us – superheros, Leapster 2, and cars – to keep them entertained.

If we pass a park we might stop when before – just the two of us – we wouldn’t think of such a thing, wanting to get to the destination. With kids you have to be flexible, be willing to take a slower path and take the breaks that they need. Being stuck in a car seat is hot and can be boring – not just for the kids! It’s good to get out, stretch, have a minute to run around and then get on your way again. Be sure to factor in these extra stops and enjoy the time with your kids – it’s the time together, not the ultimate destination that is the most important part of your travel experience. It’s the experience together!! Whether in the car or in the air… famvoyage!!