I have traveled since I was little. When I was five I moved from Indonesia to the US. Before then my parents would take me to Bali and all over Java where I was born.
By university age, I was flying or driving here and there with friends or alone. The alone came from having a long distance relationship. Then I got married and a baby girl soon after.
The first time I flew with M alone was out of necessity, M was about three months old. Hubby was working in LA at that time and him and I missed each other. I was scared stiff but I told myself I could do it. It’s just an extra body I said. A tiny one too!
Tickets were booked, suitcase and backpack packed, and also a breast pump — the joy of nursing ?
The trip was a roaring success!!
After that a few more solo trips to LA, a wedding in Phoenix and driving to all sorts of towns and cities around where we lived. I only had one issue the first few LA trips; M and I almost missed our connecting flight in Vegas. I think our gate was B and I read it as D… something like that. These two gates were basically on opposite sides. I only had 15 minutes before the gate was scheduled to close. I was in panic!! I ran with M in her carrier, a backpack and breast pump. We would have missed our flight if not for the kind lady who drives the special assistance golf cart. I told her the scenario and she drove us to our gate. Oh how I prayed hard after that one once I got on the plane!!
Hubby and I have always loved to explore. At that time hubby and I were both working and our trips were limited to weekends and when we could take time off work but we wandered a lot still.
In 2010 we moved to England and I also decided to stay home with the girls. The UK school system is six weeks in, one week out, six weeks in, a week out etc. Christmas and Easter we would get about two weeks out and the summer we have six weeks.
Hubby cannot get about 12 weeks off work each year. To be fair we don’t travel that much either, we really don’t have that much extra money. But this is how the girls trip got started. Just us girls, sometimes dogs too.
We started out close to home. Just between an hour or two. Then we did an overnight three hours away. I got braver and the girls got used to sitting for a good 2-3 hours, Jovie was about a year old, a lot really to ask but she was just a brilliant little traveler. M was about six or seven years old, she’s always been a fantastic child and the trip was nothing to her.
The first year here hubby went for a job training in Germany. It was only a couple of weeks but we decided that he’d fly there and the girls and I would get him at the end of the course and we could have a little road trip back. That was our first girl trip out of the UK. It was half way I thought and I could visit a friend between the port in France and hubby. We made it to Dover with no problem. The ferry trip was uneventful. The drive was smooth. Until we got to Brussels. When my SatNav/GPS quit (and this was before I had a smartphone with Google Maps…. actually, I am not even sure how good Google Maps was back then and to be fair, I had no Internet on my phone so it wouldn’t have mattered).
Thankfully I was still quite old school. I not only had a map but I also printed out a MapQuest map before the trip. Also before the trip, since it was our first big away one, I did a lot of research. I learned that Liège is also called Luik. I seriously think I have an awesome guardian angel because if I didn’t know this, I wouldn’t have been confused when there was a street sign for Luik instead of Liège.
I am not going to lie to you… It was really nerve wrecking but I stayed calm and confident (mostly for the sake of the kids) and we made it to my friend’s house. There the SatNav worked again, hubby was just an hour or so away, and all went well.
The SatNav issue taught me to always have a plan B, or even C, when it’s just the girls and I in a foreign country. In England, I really am not too worried. Yes there are not so honest folks everywhere but for the most part, I have trust that majority of the folks are good and we all speak English. I think the language barrier when in a foreign land makes it a bit more worrisome, it’s really not the people. So one of the thing I always carry is a small language book, those basic pocket travel books, car kits, many ways of accessing a map on my iPhone and also a paper map, even if it’s a printout or those free tourist kind of maps.
Why do we travel with kids? It’s not really to just kill boredom due to the school holidays. To us, it’s many reasons.
Hubby and I believe that we benefitted from having traveled since we were babies also. His parents used to camp often and on a regular basis they would go to Mexico to help a village with the Catholic church mission that his parents were a part of. We feel that the sights, sounds, smell, language, colours, and food have helped us be the open and global minded people that we are today. We don’t like everything we try but we do try everything that’s given to us. He’s tried durian (which he really dislikes) and I tried grasshoppers (which I really am not a fan of).
Our kids are not at all multilingual. Crap, they’re even bilingual! But they are very enthused about learning how to say the basics when we visit different coutries. When we road tripped to France… Jovie, before age two, when she could barely talk decently, would say bonjour and merci to everybody she saw and after receiving something. The number of freebies that girl received that road trip was incredible! Extra scoop of ice cream, a special crepe, an extra chocolate just for her, and even a dollie!
That’s how it all started and that’s how it’ll be until… who knows. I can only hope that even when they’re adults, we can still make time where we all can travel together.