During the summer we don’t really tell our kids that we’re going somewhere, we tell them when we’re going home. It’s completely normal for us to be gone for about half of the summer (or more) for family vacations or work related travel. We take every opportunity we have to hit the road and see something new or visit a friend. Museums, tourist attractions, landmarks, restaurants, unique hotels, parks. If it looks like family fun, you name it, we’ll check it out.
Part of our ability and drive to travel is the nature of my job (and my past career included event and trip planning for groups) but since having kids, it’s become about something different. There is no better expression on your child’s face than one of discovery and excitement. My oldest daughter loves Dora the Explorer and all of the adventures she goes on. You wouldn’t believe how many things the stairs in our home have been — sticky, icky mud and the tallest mountain, a waterfall, the winding river, and whatever adventure she decides to go on that day. For me, introducing my kids to real waterfalls, actual tallest mountains and very sticky icky mud, is thrilling.
When my second child was born, Lulu wanted to name her Dora. It would have been fitting for a child in our family. Instead we named her Scout. Scout means explorer. We are a family of explorers and I wouldn’t have it any other way. With each of our children we’ve packed up the car and the pack & plays and hit the road for an adventure by the time they were 4 weeks old. New York, Chicago, California, a safari, an airplane, a boat. You name it, we’ve probably taken an infant.
This past summer, our third little girl Shaundi was born. She was such a trooper — other than a travel crib, she never even had her own bed because we were on the road for most of her short life. When she died suddenly at only two and a half months old, I was able to look back at her tiny amount of time on this earth and know that we had really lived as a family, we had done so many things and visited so many places. Many parents who lose children who are several years old do not even have the number of photos and stories of places visited together as we do.
The biggest treasure from our summer travels are not just the photos but the memories that her older sisters will always have or hear about of their baby sister being a part of our summer adventures. Travel and exploration are so important in life — having a family to do this with is so special.
Take a Friday off work. Fill the tank with gas, pack up a swimsuit, a towel, a couple change of clothes, a coat, tennis shoes, flip flops and get out of here. Go see something new…with the kids.
This article was originally published on the Indy with Kids blog on December 19, 2013.