Plenty is excited to welcome guest poster Elisa Keay of Urban Suburban Mommy as she writes on the delights of travelling, no matter what your circumstances. Enjoy!
Before I had a family, a husband, any real roots, I was a traveller. I had the bug. I’d spend 3 months at a time wandering Europe, 6 months just surfing in Costa Rica, months road tripping across North America. I’ve been a lot of places, but there are a lot of places I’ve never been.
I knew I loved travel, but at the time I didn’t understand how important it was to me.
As I settled down, got married, and had a family, travel took the back seat. As much as I wanted to explore Asia, surf The North Shore, wander the markets in Marakesh, somehow the mortgage payments, the mat leaves, and the general demands of my husband’s and my full-time jobs seemingly shut that door.
But the travel bug wasn’t gone, it just changed.
My family doesn’t go for long hauls overseas the way I used to – or spend winters in Whistler the way my husband once did – but we love getting away, and we’ve realized the importance travel has for our family.
Instead of the big trips, we travel short and sweet. There is so much you can do to pack a weekend if you want to.
My husband thought I was crazy the first time I said “Hey, let’s just book a hotel in the city and stay there for the weekend.”
We have a perfectly lovely home in a very cool neighbourhood, so why would I want to pay to share one room with our kids? But he humoured me.
My parents always referred to The Holiday Inn in Grand Island as “The Cottage” and we spent many weekends staying at a hotel when I was a kid, so it was just normal to me.
But when you staycate, it means nobody has to make a bed, make breakfast, clean up toys, or wash dishes. There is no load of laundry nagging you and no distractions like the phone, the computer, or the demands of daily life. There is, however, room service, a swimming pool (or two) a gym, several restaurants, and whatever other amenities you choose to utilize. We generally use a website like Hotwire.com or Trivago.com to find a great rate and base our hotel selection around price, star rating and amenities. Doesn’t matter what area it’s in, as long as it is within a 45-minute drive.
If you’re not a camper, camping can sound daunting – but in actuality, it’s just a lot of fun. The first time I went camping with my husband (then boyfriend), he couldn’t believe his eyes as he watched me put up a tent in 5 minutes flat – in the dark! The first time I suggested we camp as a family, our kids were barely 5 and 3. We picked a site quite close to home in case it didn’t work out, and just went on a whim.
The kids loved it. What kid doesn’t love being free to run around outdoors and then cook marshmallows on a fire and sleep under the stars. They couldn’t believe they were being allowed to do it!
A bit more rough and rugged than hotel staycations, you do need some gear, but it can be rented (did you know that Mountain Equipment Coop rents gear?) and tried out. We call it car camping. You pull right up to a site, unpack, set up and make a fire. Or you can get a little fancy and rent a yurt. Many of the provincial parks now offer this whimsical accommodation. The campsite sells firewood, you just need to build a little twig teepee the way you were taught at camp as a kid. All you need are a few pots or a grate to cook over open flame. We’ve added bits each year to our kit and will take off on the spur of the moment. It’s good to feel spontaneous.
We do get-aways.
Whether it’s a few days at Great Wolf Lodge or a week at a sun destination, it’s important to get away. Just head out, turn off the electronics and have some unbridled fun.
Signing up for newsletters can really inspire. While my family isn’t great at planning ahead, I’ve found that the newsletters can spur me into booking something a few months in advance because the promotional price is too hard to turn down.
But there’s also something to be said for a great deal on last-minute travel. This past winter we walked into a travel agency and said “What’s leaving tomorrow morning?” We were on a plane less than 24 hours later, and the last-minute deal cost less than half of what we’d budgeted.
Sometimes the excitement is in giving the kids something to look forward to. Sometimes the excitement is in having them experience something new. We try to involve them in decision about where to go and it’s definitely giving them a sense of adventure.
Sure, I would still love to dance in the moonlight in Goa or experience the streets of Tokyo, but what my husband and I realized about travel is, it’s not where you go – it’s the memories you make, and that’s the love of travel we’ve passed onto our kids.
Perhaps there will come a time again when we’ll trek through Israel or spend a summer road tripping across Spain, but for now, a dip in the lake at dusk, a midnight adventure sneaking around a hotel, or a day in the sun at Kids Club is our version of travel and it’s always full of laughter, unexpected surprises and great memories.
If you want to travel, don’t limit yourself, just go!
Many thanks to Elisa for contribution this guest post. For more of Elisa’s writing, visit Urban Suburban Mommy, or follow her on social.