One thing I’ve been thinking a great deal about lately is just how family travel happens. By which I mean that having babies tends to bring out the nesting instinct in many of us, yet I know so many people who have resisted that impulse and have taken a family trip with their newborns or very young children. Which led me to ask some other questions of some of the bloggers I know, such as “What turned you into a traveling parent?” and “What effect did it have on your relationship with your kids?” I’m especially curious about those parents who have embarked or are planning to embark on ambitious, long-term travel with their children.
So periodically I’m going to share some stories and interviews from other traveling parents that explore just how they turned their family travel dreams into reality. Today I’m happy to bring you the first story from Britt Reints, who recently spent ten months traveling in RV with her family. Thanks so much for sharing your inspirational story Britt.
Technically, I traveled before I had kids.
I went to Italy when I was 16, Jamaica when I was 17, and Mexico when I was 19. Before that, I’d gotten to visit dozens of cities as the daughter of divorced parents and grandparents who lived far away.
And then, at 19 years old, I had my first baby.
The traveling didn’t stop, but the trips immediately got shorter. I took long weekends to nearby cities with my husband and my girlfriends, feeding my wanderlust snacks. The main dishes in my life were work and motherhood, especially after baby number two arrived.
As the kids got a little older, my getaways became more frequent. I took more opportunities to travel for work, a luxury that was easy to justify when I began working as a travel blogger. My appetite for exploration grew and I soon found myself wanting to be on the road all the time.
But what about my kids? And my husband?
I adored my family and, as much as I loved traveling, I hated that I wasn’t able to share the best part of my life with them. Sure, we’d take the occassional weekend trip to the beach or Disney, but mostly because we were lucky enough to live in Orlando and received free invitations to local tourist attractions. The children’s school and my husband’s work made it impossible to convert my short business trips into longer family excursions.
Then I had an idea. A crazy, insane, impossible idea.
I told my husband as we were going to bed one night that I wanted to take off and travel for an entire year. At first, he thought I meant a really long work trip and that, as I usually did, I would be traveling alone. Once I assured him that, no, I would not be leaving him or the kids behind for a year (as if!), he was on board with the idea.
Eight months after that bedtime declaration, after selling our house and most of our belongings and giving away my car, we moved into a 24-foot travel trailer. As a family. We headed out for what would become a 10-month road trip around America.
Over the course of our trip, I got to revisit my favorite places with my kids, and I saw a whole new side of them. New York City took on another dimension when I walked Central Park with my 6 and 11 year old and Las Vegas with kids was a completely new – and surprisingly fun – experience for me.
Traveling with the kids became less about the places we visited and more about the time we had to connect. The changing scenery and new foods gave us something to talk about and memories to share. I got to know my kids better and, I think, they got to know me.
Now that I’ve fully embraced traveling with kids, I feel their presence missing on every trip I take alone. Of course, sometimes that’s not so bad.
Britt Reints is a freelance writer who recently spent 10 months traveling around America in an RV with her husband and two kids. She writes about the courage it takes to pursue happiness – whether in an RV or house in the suburbs – at In Pursuit of Happiness.