If you can swing it and your child is old enough, I highly recommend summer camp for a week at a time. I just signed my child up, once again, for adventure camp where she can climb walls, stomp in a creek, work with her team on a ropes course, sleep outside, hike, bike, and swim to her heart’s content. This is a camp she has been to for several summers but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t look forward to it all year. During that week away, she forgets she has parents unless we send her a care package that is.
As much as I love and advocate family vacations for adventure and general family bonding, it is important for kiddos to have time on their own to spread their wings and figure out what they are made of. If your child is not comfortable going away to camp just yet, there are several camps that offer that a “women’s week” or “parents’ week” where Mom or Dad can stay at camp too. The kiddos have their own activities throughout the day and then stay with their parents at night instead of with other kids and counselors. If finances are an issue, many camps have scholarships available. Try to find a way for your kids to fly on their own if you can, it will bring confidence, resilience, and fun!
Congratulations, you had a baby, you never get to leave your house again! Uh, NOPE! I know it can feel that way sometimes but it simply is not true. Having children will absolutely change your life, every part of it, but if you love to travel, your kids probably will too. Yes, the younger they are, they harder children can be to travel with but kids grow fast. What’s that saying? The days are long but the years are short. Blink and your infant will be a 13 year old who is taller than you are. Ask me how I know. (I really should have seen this coming, my husband is 6’3″.)
That said, you only have a few years of having children home with you to travel with them as a family. Take advantage of the time. Travel with small kids, travel with big kids, get those kids out to see the world around them. Broaden their horizons and teach them that a whole world exists outside of their little town. Yes, there will be days that you wish you’d never left the house what with the whining and arguing but there will be more days that you are SO glad you got to enjoy.
Traveling is a great way to bond with your kids. You’ll get to see the world through their eyes. You can take them places you visited as a child or you can experience new things together. You’ll make memories and teach life skills. Oh so many life skills! That’s a topic for another day though.
Chances are you think your kids are funny. Well, pint-sized or taller than you, they are probably funnier when they travel. Breaking out of routines and schedules brings this out in people perhaps because they feel freer. The kids might even get along with each other, *gasp*! (Do not say it out loud though, you don’t want to jinx it!) When you take kids out into the world, hilarity is sure to ensue. If it happens at Target, it can happen at the Grand Canyon. You’ll likely find yourselves in weird situations, due to travel delays, new food options, or just because you are tired. Enjoy the weird stuff and laugh. Twenty-five years later my family still talks about chip bags exploding as we drove up into the mountains, melted steps in Utah, a sneezing fit that sent 4 of us into giggles and 1 of us into terror that we were going to drive off the cliff in Mesa Verde, the guide’s reaction to Dad’s hat staying on through class 3 rapids, my brothers’ very own “radio show” in the backseat of the van complete with commercials for random household items, and the strange juggling waiter at Perkins. Sometimes it is the kids who are funny and sometimes it’s their reactions. Enjoy and maybe keep a journal.
Sometimes things go WRONG. Have you ever been in a camper in Nebraska during a wind storm that spawned tornadoes? Have you ever been driving through the desert and had your engine overheat? Have you been on the wrong side of the swiftly, and historically, rising Mississippi and had your engine overheat again? No? Lucky you. All of these things happened on the same trip as the hysterics in the section above. A little adversity does tend to bring a family together. It also teaches kids that if you work together, you can get through just about anything. Kids and adults alike learn resilience and that laughter really does help. It makes us better people and better families.
So get out there with your kids. Go for day trips, weekend trips, or month long adventures. Do what fits your interests, time, and budget but do explore with your kids. They grow fast and the memories of traveling together will stay with them for a lifetime.
This, my friends, is another delayed post. We visited Scotland in May 2017 and we can’t wait to go back. We met the kindest people and thoroughly enjoyed our visit. The words may have been lost for a bit but the adventure was not!
Somehow I am lucky enough to be leaving for Scotland in a few days. Since we are traveling internationally, watch this space for run-ins with border patrol. Something odd always happens to us. From a VERY un-amused guard at Heathrow to our first ever jovial guard on the border between Ontario and Michigan.
Before all the border crossing fun begins, let’s get to the planning shall we? As I’ve mentioned before, I really love to plan trips. By this I mean, I like to know what there is for us to do in a place and then partake of whatever strikes our fancy when we find ourselves in that city, or in this case, that barely inhabited section of the Scottish Highlands. I’m so excited! I’ve wanted to go to Scotland for a very long time.
We will be in Scotland for 10 days and we are essentially breaking our trip into 2 parts. First we’ll be in Edinburgh for several days and then, once we are fully conscious, we’ll be renting a car and headed out for a very different kind of adventure. In Edinburgh we’ll spend a day walking the Royal Mile and then take suggestions from our Airbnb host and other people we meet who are lucky enough to live there as to how to fill the rest of our days. I bet we find some great local places!
Once we head into the Highlands, there are a few whisky distilleries we plan to stop at, including my husband’s favorites. (Did I mention we are taking this particular trip sans kiddo?) We also have a couple of castles on our list, a Skyfall sight or 2, and some time on the Isles of Skye and Iona. For the most part though, we are going to take our time driving and stop wherever we like. It’s a beautiful place and we have no intention of speeding past it.
We will be staying at Airbnbs the entire time. During this trip will be mostly in private rooms in homes as opposed to having the whole place to ourselves. Our hosts are already helping us figure out what to see and do and ensuring we have a great time. I just wish I could figure out a small American gift that is easy to pack and would be enjoyed by all of our hosts. We always pitch in around the house but a small memento might be nice too. Hmm.