At the beginning of 2018, I set my word of the year to be reflection. I feel the entire year could actually be summed up by that word—truly looking at and thinking about what I do and why I do it. Looking back over all my travels and adventures, I have had the opportunity to reflect on how we travel as a family and what we enjoy in our travels.
I decided to write these things down for you mostly because I want you to share in my experiences. I also hope these things help you and your family in your travels as well as encourage you. I love being real with you. The reality is that travel, like anything else, is a journey. There may be high points and low points, but they are all worth experiencing. So, here are six things I have learned in 2018 about traveling with my family.
- My family can only handle so much.
I know that children are resilient, and I still believe that to be true. I also know at some point we need a breather. When it comes to traveling, we can do anything for a short period of time. However, high stress can take its toll on me, my children, and my husband. I have learned that there are times we can push the schedule and times for a little chaos, but we need to implement down times and rest.
- My family loves adventure.
Though my family can only handle so much chaos, we love adventure, and that includes spontaneity! We have asked some crazy things of our kids for the sake of a great experience, and they do not usually turn it down. Whether it is cold or hot, they are willing to put on the necessary gear to do something new. Of course, they have their fears and do not say “yes” to everything, but they tend to have good attitudes when we do something new and are up for adventure.
- My family has a better attitude when I do.
I almost wish this point were not always true. I want my family to have great attitudes even when I do not.However, that is just not the trend I have seen. If I want my children to be excited about something, I have to set that example. If I want them to go with the flow of changed plans, I have to set that example. If I want my husband to enjoy being with family on a hard day, I have to set that example. (The opposite can also be true.) Though this is not true every time, it is true most of the time! As a family, we feed off of each other, and it helps everyone to have a good attitude when I have a good attitude.
- My family does not need a lot of things to be happy.
The main word I want to point out from this statement is “things.” When we stay in a hotel in the middle of traveling and all of our entertainment is packed up, my children find ways to entertain themselves. They do not need toys, and they do not need a screen most of the time. It is nice to have the extras, but not as necessary as I always imagined. Honestly, it has been so fun to learn and watch my kids invent games and things to do when they are short on entertainment.
- Planning is good even when it does not always go as planned.
I am not a planner, and my husband is not a planner. We are very go-with-the-flow type people and would rather “wing it” than have a detailed schedule. However, that is not quite possible when it comes to traveling. There needs to be some forethought of the details and planning in order for things to go smoothly. That does not mean everything will go according to plan. In fact, you can almost guarantee somethings will not go according to plans. Unfortunately, we have had to learn the hard way that there are times when you have to pull out the emergency plans that you never thought you would need. Doing research ahead of time helps set expectations for a better trip. Also, knowing where to go if something bad happens or what can be pushed off to do a spontaneous side adventure are both good things to know when traveling!
- If I pay attention, I can see what my family needs.
This point actually goes well with the first point I gave. There are just going to be times when I need to listen to my family. Maybe they are really enjoying what we are doing, and we need to just enjoy the moment. Maybe they hate what we are doing, and we need to end it early. Maybe they are not being nice to one another, and you realize everyone just needs a snack or lunch. Contrary to popular belief, children do not try to ruin our trips. There are times when we have to do things we do not like (9-hour flights anyone?!), and those things just have to be worked through. Maybe your child just wants to be heard or spoken to in those times.However, the point of traveling as a family is experiencing this trip as a family. Stopping and paying attention to the needs and wants of the family are much more beneficial to the trip as a whole!
I hope you are able to learn more about your family through the many adventures you all have together!
Even if you are not able to travel, I hope you explore new experiences and cultures wherever you are! Check out this post on how to learn about culture wherever you are. Also, check out the NurturingWanderlust Newsletter! Each month we feature a different country to learn more about as a family. It is a great way to expand your worldview without paying for the plane ticket.