Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Travel with kids. Just do it.

I know I'm probably preaching to the converted here but travel with kids. It can be frustrating, and annoying, and tiring. But oh so rewarding. They may seem like they're bored stupid and not learning anything (and they probably are bored after the 50th art gallery in Paris!) but they are most definitely learning stuff.

They're learning that even though the country may be different, the language different and the food different - it's all good. Different is good. Not something to be feared. There are good people everywhere you go.

Here is my wife and two boys ice skating in Amsterdam in front of the Reijksmuseum. It was probably more fun than the Rembrandts in the museum behind but both will remain in their memories forever.

Apple has a new ad for the iPad and in it is a scene from inside the famous Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona - that glorious work of architect Antoni Gaudi. My two boys recognised it as soon as they saw it - which is good because it was only a few weeks ago.

Long after we parents have forgotten how many times we had to yell at the kids to 'look at the damn paintings not your iPod', or 'walk in a straight line so you don't bump into people' and other such angry statements, the photos and the memories will live on.

As you can guess, we've just come back from Europe. 8 days in Paris, 8 in Barcelona and 3 visiting old trekking friends in Amsterdam. Those friends have kids now too. They don't speak English, my kids don't speak Dutch. But somehow they managed to communicate in a joint language of Minecraft and Lego! My youngest son, after dinner at our friends' house, proclaimed it the best night of the whole holiday. Wow, think of all the money I could have saved on hotel rooms if we'd just gone to our friends' house for three weeks. :)

People often exclaim how lucky we are to do all this travel (and believe me we're nothing compared to other of my travel writing buddies!). To them I say it's not luck. It's sacrifice. We go without in other areas of our lives. My wife works hard at a job that takes her away nearly half of the year. I forego my desire to travel to look after the kids full time. We never eat out at home, don't drive expensive cars or buy all the fancy toys that those around us seem to have.

Instead every penny we have gets put into travel. I would much rather give my kids experiences than stuff. Nothing lucky about that just a matter of priorities. So in closing I would say this. Get your kids out into the world. Show them that there's more to the world than just what's around them. Get lost with them in a foreign city. Stumble your way in a foreign language with them. Teach them that life is a book, and those who never travel only read a single page. (heavy paraphrasing there I know!)

And stay tuned for more stories and pictures from Europe.