Why we travel
I recently had tea with a friend who had returned from a grand adventure-traveling Eastern Europe with her four children. Hearing her stories, and talking about some of our own family trips-we pondered the question, “Why do we travel?” First of all, this is not a question I can answer quickly, in a short blog post. There are so many reasons. But, travel has been on my mind lately as two of my 14-year-old triplets are off on adventures of their own as I type this. Big, large scale adventures, taking them to both a different State and several different Countries. My mind however, went first to travel on a smaller scale. A few weeks ago, in the days leading up to Memorial Day weekend I realized that my husband would be leaving for an international work trip the day after the holiday, and would return home only hours before one of our kids left for a month. Therefore, Memorial Day weekend was our last weekend together as a family of 5 for 6+ weeks. That weighed heavy. What would we do to make it special? How could we guarantee a fun weekend together? Images of a weekend at home-fun for sure, but also sprinkled with kids on screens, adults working around the house, laundry, work emails, groceries filled my mind. I wanted more. New images replaced the previous ones: a 1987 pop up camper, campfires, lakes, sand, hammocks, s’mores, ice cream. I immediately set to work, intent on finding a campground with availability for the weekend. After much searching, I found a cancellation and booked what must have been the last campsite in the State. The departure was not perfect, we ended up paying for Friday night and not using it because of a rescheduled baseball game. My parents offered to drive one kiddo up later on Saturday so he could attend a practice. But, by Saturday evening, my 5 were sitting screen free on a Lake Michigan beach. While we did not have endless amounts of time, we filled it with fun. We hammocked on a dune, ate ice cream everyday, and walked together-slowly. We wandered downtown and cooked hot dogs and marshmallows over an open fire. We read books and played Molkky. We talked and laughed. We hugged and held hands. This was not an epic world adventure, it was a mere 2 hours away from home, and yet-it filled us. My tea drinking travel friend said she needs her kids when she travels because they remind her to slow down and look at things that her tightly scheduled itinerary might not have allowed for. The same was true for my travel closer to home. Whether it’s something the kids notice, or something they do, they spark curiosity and wonder. The first evening we were at the beach, a little before sunset one of my teens told me she was bored. We considered starting the walk back to our campground, but stayed-as she wandered off to where her siblings were sitting in the sand. As my husband and I basked in the golden light, we opened our eyes to laughter, and found the girls burying their brother in the sand. She was not bored anymore and as their giggles carried on the breeze-we smiled. They were playing. This sense of play wove like a brightly colored thread through the rest of the weekend, endless rounds of Molkky, ping pong in the club house, putt putt golf and random silliness filled our time. We travel to be together, really together. Sans screens. We travel to slow down and notice. We travel to remember how to play, how to laugh, how to be silly. Our weekend up north in the 1987 pop up camper, in the last camp site in the State of Michigan filled our hearts, and prepared us in a way for the adventures to come. While I will write more, another time about the endless other reasons we travel, for today I know in my heart that I travel to hold on to childhood, to slow, and to savor. Happy summer travels to you my friends. Why do you travel?