Travel is our family’s greatest joy in life. Being together and sharing new experiences is a favorite for each of the four of us. My husband is a teacher, and it’s very possible that he is about to go on strike. There is also a pretty good possibility that it could go on for a while. I hope I’m wrong. As our stress over the impending strike was reaching height, we adopted the creed, “You know what? It’s going to be ok. We’ll be ok.” We’ve been through way worse. The other day we went for a hike and talked about our life’s plan B: what we would do if this all gets too sour. We really dig our neighbors, our sweet little walk to school, and our awesome back yard that the kids play in for hours. But if we need to go to plan B, we’ll sell our house and our stuff, and we’ll travel for a while (I’ll fly back for weddings), at least until the summer.
And so tonight, I’m writing this post to remind myself what I learned last summer while traveling through Colorado, Arizona, and Utah with this family of ours for three weeks. There were many, many lessons learned. 🙂
1. Get wet. And muddy. And messy. Seriously. Let the kids go. Let yourself go! This actually started with me splashing in the water with the girls, and ended with them playing their new favorite game “mucky muck.” Yes, it all washed out. And no, I honestly wouldn’t have cared if it didn’t.
2. Whatever the time says for a hike/tour/etc., when you’re with kids – double it (at least). This one will save you so much stress if you fully embrace it. Give yourselves time to check out that crazy blue bug that flies and swims, or to do a little forest dance, or to just take a break. I feel like I’m forever rushing the kids in our daily lives, “Come on! You’ve got to get to school!” “For the love of God, can you PLEASE eat and stop messing around?” On vacation, I want us all to take our time. And the kids really appreciate the lack of me barking.
3. Make the little things fun. Or don’t! Sometimes you can just breathe. But sometimes you can find fun in unexpected places. This was actually in a big bathroom mirror at a restaurant. Just felt like having a little dance party. Ya know.
4. Stop freaking out. Ok, so this one’s purely for me. And maybe it’s kind of a specific story… But still a good lesson to remember. I have wanted to see Antelope Canyon since I knew it existed. It has been at the tippy top of my list for years. There is an Upper and a Lower, and I didn’t want to drag my family through both. So I freaked out trying to make this decision. I mean, spent HOURS of my life reading what people said about each section and what was the best time of day and which was the best tour company and which was better for kids and which had fewer crowds and OH MY GOODNESS. Hours. You would think I would have made my decision by the time we got there. You would be wrong. I was still freaking out. Talking with each tour company (you can’t go down without a Navajo tour guide), trying to figure out if we should go right then or wait until the next day. I didn’t want to mess it up. And you know what? Even now, I don’t know which one we did! I know we didn’t do the one that most photographers said was the most beautiful. And we didn’t go at the ideal time. But my husband turned to me at one point with a “Stop freaking out!” And we went right then to whichever one’s parking lot we were in. And it was spectacular. I mean, above and beyond. I cried.
5. Be open to where the adventure takes you. Sometimes it’s better than your best laid plans. A vicious windstorm was raging through the West for a couple of the days we were there. It changed some of our plans – sent us fleeing from Page, Arizona faster than we had planned. This was during the camping week of our trip. We left Page early, came on over to Zion, but couldn’t get into our campsite early. So they sent us to this beautiful State Park with copper sand and beautiful blue sky and no one around. It was one of my favorite parts of the trip, and we never would have seen it if it hadn’t been for that storm. The wind was still following us, and although we were told it would die down by the evening, it did not. If we had slept in our tent, the top of it would have hit us in the face all night long – that’s how crazy the wind was. So we gave in, moved all the luggage to our tent, and put down the seats in the back of our rental car. Slept all curled up together in the back, gazing up at the starriest sky I have ever seen in my life. In the middle of the night, I awoke, and saw the moon rising above the mesas. I don’t think I’ve ever really watched the moon rise before. It was amazing. I didn’t even know that was on my list. We hardly slept at all that night. And it was incredible.
6. There is nearly always a way.My husband is a travel hacker extraordinaire. The plane tickets for all four of us were free (credit card points). Our rental car was nearly free (same way). We went to places off season and got major discounts. We camped in our tent or stayed in places that had kitchens so we could cook at “home.” We used our memberships, which we get for holidays from family, to get us in to reciprocal museums and zoos. That’s why being gone for three weeks wasn’t crazy or out of the question. And that’s why traveling for months might not be out of the question either. We’ll see. Who knows what the next couple of months will bring for our family! But we’ll be ok. And we’ll find ways to travel. If you’d like more ideas on how to adventure in your travels and in the every day, click here to sign up for my newsletter – The Everyday Adventurer!