Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Have Kids. Will Travel.

I've been suffering from a rather serious case of wanderlust lately. I suspect my husband wishes there were an ointment or antibiotic that would clear it up. However, I know the only cure for a raging case of travelitis is to scratch that itch and plan a trip. Which is exactly what I'm intent upon doing.

Before we were married, my husband and I took a trip to Spain and Portugal. While we were there, we ran into a family of four who was taking a year off and touring Europe in an RV. They drove wherever they felt like and stayed as long as it suited them. Along the way, they homeschooled their kids. I was completely enthralled. It was one of the most amazing things I could imagine doing. What I couldn't (and still can't) imagine, is having enough money and flexibility with jobs, etc. to be able to do something like that. But it remains one of my favorite fantasies.

Since we've had kids we've taken a couple of vacations. Relaxing, fun and wonderful - but nothing that requires me to change currency or learn a few phrases of a different language and that's what I'm really wanting to do. I believe that the gift of travel is one of the best gifts a kid could ever get and I'm hoping that by the time they're adults, my children will have seen as much of the world as my husband and I can afford to show them.

When it comes to travel, I've heard the saying "Getting there is half the fun," I think that saying was on my Care Bears wheelie-luggage as a child, come to think of it. I disagree, getting there sucks. Long lines at TSA, forcing me to remove my shoes (not to mention making me take a pair of Robeez off of a 5-month-old baby), followed by long hours on a cramped plane with bad food, hoping the entire time that our luggage makes it to the same destination. No, getting there is just a necessary evil. What I think is half the fun is planning a vacation.

While spontaneous trips are nice, I actually prefer an entire year to plan and dream about my pending travels. I like to watch as many travel shows on the area as possible, read travel guides and watch movies and read novels that are set in my destination. For me, the more I read and understand where I'm going, the more magical it is when I get there. For my kids, I also have visions making them toddler-appropriate books that will explain the sights we're going to see and outline our trip for them, so they'll be able to get as much out of the experience as possible.

We're talking about going on a trip next year with another family. Initially, I thought Australia would make a great first-time vacation for kids, since the language is the same, the food would be similar and it seems that most of the main attractions are outdoor activities like beaches and nature reserves. I got out-voted. Everyone else thought that was too much plane time for three toddlers. They might be right. I'd also considered Costa Rica but the things I'd want to do there would be more adventurous and better-suited for school-aged kids, so that's on hold as well.

So now, the talk is Italy. Everyone seems to be onboard with the plan, though no one's as enthusiastic about starting the planning process as I am. I've been on Ciao Bambino's site so much in the past couple of weeks, she's probably wondering what's driving her stats up so high. Her site, which is all about travelling with kids, recommends four days in Rome, followed by a week in Tuscany, and three days in Venice as a good Italian starter trip for kids. Sounds heavenly, no? I'm already dreaming of a picnic in Rome's Borghese Gardens and watching the kids toss coins into the Trevi Fountain. In Tuscany, I imagine dining al fresco on the terrace of the villa we will rent, then strolling through a village's piazza while the kids drip gelato everywhere. The kids are pretty good about napping in the car, so it's my hope that some of the days they can nap while my husband and I drive around and just take in the sights. Other days, I'll sit out on that same terrace and sip white wine and read a book while they take a siesta. In Venice, I'll sip cappuccinos in Piazza San Marco, while my kids happily torment pigeons. Then, we'll take a gondola ride while I pray nobody tries to jump into the Grand Canal...

There are several things that need to fall into place before this trip can occur, so who knows if it will actually come to fruition. For one, I'm realizing how much more expensive travel is with kids. Airfare alone is double what it was in our childless days. Probably more given the increase in gas prices and the fact that with kids, it's a lot harder to take the red-eye or whatever wonky connection scheme will shave a chunk of change off the price of a ticket. Lodging's more expensive as well. Before kids, my requirements for a hotel were that it should be clean, well-located and cheap, cheap, cheap. As adults, hotels are usually just a place to sleep, then you're out sight-seeing all day and not there very much, so what's the point in splurging? However, since we'll have three toddlers who all require naps, we will be spending a decent amount of time in our lodgings and it's worth it to have a place you can enjoy.

So, in case you were wondering what I've been spending my time fantasizing about lately, there you have it - I'm dreaming of being under the Tuscan sun. As soon as my husband agrees to it, I'm going to buy some "learn to speak Italian" CDs, so I can learn at least a few phrases of that gorgeous language before the plane lands.

Okay, since it's clear that for me, fantasizing about travel is nearly as important as actually doing it, I'm going to pose my all-time favorite hypothetical question to everyone (btw, I LOVE hypothetical questions). What are your Top 5 Domestic Travel Destinations? What are your Top 5 International Travel Destinations? I've put mine below. I constantly mentally update this list, when I'm not busy imagining how I'd spend my Lotto winnings, were I ever to buy and win a Lotto ticket, that is.

1. Savannah, GA
2. Grand Canyon
3. Florida Keys
4. New England in the Fall
5. Alaska (this probably wouldn't make my list, but it's my husband's #1 choice and I'd like to think I'm a good wife)

1. Italy
2. Croatia
3. Greece
4. China
5. African safari


  1. Well, I can't say I'm with you on travelling with the kids especially at the age they are now. But I certainly can't wait until they're older and past the fussing, teething, whining, tantrumming stage. Disney World here we come. My husband and I have never been and honestly, I cannot wait! But up there to explore are Italy, Greece and FOR SURE an African Safari. Good luck with the planning!!!!

  2. I am crazy for traveling but finances don;t like to cooperate with my plans:)

    New York
    San Francisco
    The Keys
    Vermont in the Fall


  3. I am going through the same thing as you! But I have no plan in motion...money is an issue for a big trip like I want to do...but I will live vicariously through you! Have you considered renting a house/apartment? I envision a villa in tuscany for one of my fantasies. Anyway, here's my list in no particular order:
    New Zealand
    Greek islands
    I have been to Spain and Italy already, but want to visit some other parts and now of course I'll have my family with me so a whole different kind of trip!

  4. Yeah, it's a bit shocking how expensive it gets when four people are involved. I'm hoping that by starting my search early we can finagle a good deal on airfare. That's the real killer. I'm not a shopper/big spender once I get there. I don't eat at expensive restaurants or buy things, which helps. We usually buy one reasonbly-priced thing to commemorate a trip and that's it.

    Can I say, you ladies have some excellent travel destinations in mind?

    Hungrigyrl, yeah, we're thinking of a villa or farmhouse while we're in Tuscany. I've started looking into options.

    (PS, this is Dana - my blog hates me and refuses to let me comment as myself...)


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