Torsten and I keep a list, a mental one, of places we'd like to travel. It includes... well, most places, really. Toward the top of the list are Japan and Thailand, Antarctica, Australia and New Zealand, southern Africa, Dubai, and Hawaii.
Of course there are less expensive/exotic places that we'd like to go. One year we want to buy the America the Beautiful pass and check out several of the amazing national parks within driving distance of here--including Yellowstone and Grand Teton, Badlands, and Bryce Canyon. We want to go pretty much everywhere in California--the Bay Area and also the southern California beaches. We love Chicago and want to go back there when there's no risk of a snowstorm. Torsten has never been to New Orleans. We want to take a train ride through the Canadian Rockies. The list goes on.
Every time we think of somewhere we'd like to go, we add it to our mental list and say we'll get there eventually. And I believe we will, truly.
But, you know, with Piglet's arrival pending in about three and a half months, and the ultimate plan for a second kid a few years after that, our traveling is going to be quite different for the foreseeable future. Say we have two kids, three years apart--that means we'll have a baby or a toddler or both for the next six years.
The location of our families alone means that we will definitely be the kind of family that travels with young kids. We are thinking we'll go to Germany with Piglet in 2012, since Torsten's parents will be coming to us after he's born in 2011, and I'm hoping to tack on a few days with my host family and friends in France to that trip (bonus: my host sister is also pregnant and due a month before me, and I'd really like the kids to meet before they're in elementary school). And certainly Piglet will have his first trip on a plane before he's a year old--whether to DC, North Carolina, or both.
But we'd like to do some non-family-related traveling, too. A lot of that depends of course on finances and on Torsten's workload, but assuming that those things become manageable in 2011 (knock on wood), we could theoretically afford our first vacation in quite some time. If we do go somewhere, it will probably be quite a modest, unambitious trip somewhere nearby and baby-friendly (maybe a rented mountain cabin?). We need to ease into the whole traveling-as-parents thing, for sure.
But there is a balance to be struck--we aren't going to hold off on traveling until both kids are old enough to truly revel in and remember everything, because even if they don't remember some of their early trips, that doesn't mean they won't enjoy them and learn from them, but at the same time there are some things that older kids just genuinely would enjoy more than little kids, and hence our trips will have to be selected carefully. State parks and Chicago? Seem quite doable. Dubai? Maybe not so much.
But also, it is a little shocking to realize that we are probably not going to have "babymoon," pre-kid vacation, etc. We often talk about how nice it would be to repeat our honeymoon, go to some tropical resort and just lie around for two weeks. And, you know, with kids? Even older ones? Even if we went to a tropical all-inclusive resort, it wouldn't exactly be spent sleeping and lounging for two weeks.
And that's fine! Better than fine, really. Kids definitely change things, but not necessarily for the worse. We might not get all the sleeping and lounging time we'd take if it were just the two of us, but as a trade-off we get time with our kids and get to see them on vacation and show them new things and enjoy watching them have fun in new places. And that seems like a totally worthwhile tradeoff to me.
And also, I know that my parents would be more than willing to stay with our kid(s) if we did ever want or need to take an adults-only trip. And it is lovely to know that. But I can't see doing that when Piglet is really young. So it will be at least a couple of years before we have a vacation that's just the two of us again. And sometimes that feels like a really long time. But then I think about all the fun stuff, traveling included, that we plan to do with Piglet in the next couple of years, and it stops bothering me so much. We want and need to raise a kids for whom traveling is a part of life, and that's what we plan to do.
What about you? Those of you who have kids, how have they affected your traveling? Have you stopped altogether, changed the trips that you do, or just brought them along with you everywhere? Any tips on making the most out of traveling with kids?
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