The family vacation may go the way of the dodo bird—if work bennies and family units continue to fall apart. Perhaps that’s why some of us keep advocating long-term family travel: escaping your homelife for weeks or months for eye-opening education, stimulation, and inspiration—before it’s too late.
It sounds good in theory, right? Not! Throughout this 35-day trip exploring a long slice of Europe, the offspring demonstrated symptoms of fierce dissatisfaction and outright insanity. Only a BAD DAD would put them through such challenging enviroments and experiences.
Thankfully, we did survive. Yet I recommend all parents and families bury their dreams. Just stay home. Stay plugged in to as many techno-devices as possible. And stay away from terrifying situations like these 5—which represent only the tip of a dangerous iceberg…
Boredom. A parent never knows what will thrill (and what will make shrill) the children. But be aware that the castle may enchant the daughter, but disgust the son; the fishing village may excite the boy, but nauseate the girl.
Gelati daily. What parent can resist, “Daddy, can I have a treat?” But I implore you: Just say no! Or before you know it, you’re buying $7, triple-scoop frozen stuff several times a day in expensive Scandinavian cities—or you’ll be punished with world-class pouting and stink-eye (til you finally give in).
Language angst. One great reason to drag your kids through foreign lands: Try some other languages. Be prepared, though, for them to pick up even fewer words than you do, and to routinely ask, “Daddy, will you order my gelati for me?”
Exhaustion. It can happen any time and any place, but it usually flares up in the most remote, inconvenient occasions. It’s called melt-down—and not the kind that two-year olds do, but a much louder, heavier performance. “I’m hot!” “I’m tired!” “I can’t walk another step!” are just a few signs that this disease has struck.
Food fights. Are your children picky eaters? If you are so delusional as to say no, may I invite you to take them on tour through countless international eating escapades. No primi, secondi, or contorni will arrive as envisioned. The kids will gag at their own pizza choice—and then steal your steak. Pack 555 granola bars!
I blame myself…
Okay, that rant may show my surly side—but it also suggests you bring a big jar of Chill Pills when you travel as a family. Mellow days and magic moments will abound, of course. But so will scenes that make you shake your head (if not bang it on a wall) with befuddlement.
I guess that’s called growing up. And it never stops, so long as we keep living it up.
If you get the chance, please go see for yourself. It may be the most meaningful, challenging, unpredictable, amazing gift you’ll ever give to yourself—and those dang kids.