One thing I love about visiting Great Britain is the way the language is different on signs than in the United States. Even mundane road signs are delightful and charming to my American eyes – “diversion ends”, “give way”, and the one above, which I found in Edinburgh, Scotland.
This sign also has a double meaning for me, perfect to express what I’m feeling on this sunny May morning. My priorities are changing and have been for about a year.
When I started this blog, my children were 3 and 6. They are now 9 and (as of this Sunday) 12. Back then I was all about telling parents that travel is possible even with very young children. I advocated day trips and offered examples of ways to just get out and do with preschoolers. My weekends were full of trips to zoos, museums, and parks and I was able to travel at every time of the year without worrying too much about anyone’s schedule.
I think back to that time with great fondness and remember too the occasional dark warning from a friend with older children – just you wait, they’d say, until sports and school and other activities really kick in. I blithely assumed that none of that would apply to me. Surely I was the boss and would stay in control of my family’s schedule and my children’s activities. I had figured out how to travel for a year with a toddler, how to bravely take young children to museums and restaurants, how to fit long summer vacations into my husband’s full-time work schedule – what could possibly stop me?
Here’s what: Baseball. Karate. Violin. Piano. Friends. Homework. And the list goes on.
I don’t mean to make it sound like my family never travels anymore. In fact, during the past year we took a weeklong vacation to Wisconsin, a three-week vacation to Maine and Vermont, spent a long weekend in New York City, a week in Arizona, and went on three different Vermont ski trips. And that’s just the bigger trips – there’s still been the occasional day trip to Philadelphia, Baltimore, or Washington, DC as well. Our total time on the road during the past twelve months comes close to two months – calling ourselves a traveling family is completely legit.
But it’s still different. Less spontaneous. More challenging to execute. And (though I hate to admit this) in some ways more exhausting for me. As my kids’ wings have spread, I’ve felt free to take on more projects, leaving me scrambling in a web of deadlines. I became focused on trying to make some income to support our extracurriculars, which meant less time to share stories (I’ve got boatloads of tales that I haven’t yet written about on this site for that reason).
I’m proud of all the project I’ve worked on over the past year – of my efforts to help families take ski trips with Back to Ski and All Mountain Mamas, of my freelance writing, of my volunteer work as a board member of Passports With Purpose, and of The Family Traveler’s Handbook. But I’ll be honest: It’s come at something of a cost to my blog, my long form writing, my photography, and (at times) my family travel plans.
I find myself longing lately to return to the days when I shared stories and thoughts about traveling with kids more regularly, when I lovingly curated and described our experiences. I also want to write a series of tips for traveling with tweens because I find that it really is a whole new ballgame – one that is as worthwhile and challenging as traveling with a toddler was. And I’d like to go back to past stories and improve them.
I also want to focus on sharing the story of what happens to parents as they age (I am headed for my mid-40s) and as their children begin to have lives of their own, separate and apart from their families. In my case that means an increased focus on my own physical wellness exploring the possibility of solo travel.
And finally, I want to get the word out about my book, a project of which I am very proud and which I’d like to get into the hands of more traveling parents.
This post is a road sign that changes are coming on this site. As I approach my sixth blogging anniversary at the beginning of June, I’m going to be making changes in how the site looks, how the content is organized, and what stories I tell. I’m going to return to my core mission of providing inspiration via stories for other traveling parents with a healthy dose of tips and ideas. I’m going to work hard once again to take beautiful photos and share them on Instagram and Pinterest. My travels are going to change too – there will be some journeys that I take and share without my family. I’m going to start focusing on my food writing and photography, always a passion for me and something I’d like to pursue more seriously.
If all of this sounds exciting to you, I hope you’ll sign up for my new newsletter list. Not only will you get monthly access to tips, insights, and stories that readers of my blog won’t see, you’ll also get special features like itineraries and packing lists, all completely free.
I’m sharing this meditation as part of Friday Postcards from Walking On Travels, which offers a chance for bloggers to share tales of where they’ve been lately, as I have done today. And because the posts are supposed to be primarily photos, I’ll include a few bonus shots below. I took these in Scotland, which my husband and visited (without kids) to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary last fall. Looking at them reminds me not only why I love to travel but also why I love to share stories about traveling – because nothing beats the sheer beauty and joy of travel.
They also make me feel extraordinarily blessed and happy. I hope they give you a dose of inspiration for your weekend ahead.