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Dreaming of Summer: Travel Abroad With 4 Kids +

summertravelWhen I was in my teens and twenties, I was a vagabond.

Travel was my thing. I was addicted. I needed to wander like I needed air. I was willing to work for it, beg for it, borrow for it. My wanderlust was strong. So strong it stomped on my other ambitions more than once. I never had an internship. I didn’t take advantage of winter “intercession” writing classes.

Throughout my college years (in Baltimore) I lived for vacations, breaks, really any time “off” when I could unfurl my wings and take flight. My most delicious moments were when the plane’s wheels left the runway.

I went to Mexico, New Orleans, Florida, Greece, California, Egypt, Israel and finally, when I finally had that diploma done and accounted for, I took off for four months to explore Europe by land and sea.

My husband (then boyfriend) joined me in Europe that summer after college. We blew like tumbleweeds from country to country. Once we took the train from Poland to Portugal straight through, because we could. With each country came a change in passegers, pace and differently upholstered train cars. It was anthropology in motion. It was my dream come true, minus the sleeping in train stations part. With a little more cash I could have kept rolling for another six months or more. Who knows how long?

I am glad we have the shared memories. I only wish we had more photos. At the time it didn’t seem important to document everything. Travel seemed to me a way of life, and I wasn’t aware that way would soon change.

I wasn’t aware that I was living and breathing such a special moment in my time.

It was a time that was about to come to an abrupt end when we moved in together in Portland, Oregon.

The realities of the job market, our (lack of) funds and the need to establish ourselves, DO something, put down roots, etc, put a major kink in our travel style. For me it was painful, always. My wanderlust reared its head each spring holiday and summer like a whiny toddler demanding attention. “But I wannnnnna go!”

TV commercials for foreign airlines made my eyes mist over. For my husband the travel gene was not nearly as strong. Growing up as an Airforce brat he had plenty of time on the road. For him, putting down roots was priority #1. I think he was almost relieved when a series of bad flights left me fearful of flying. I complained less about the lack of travel abroad. Fear of flying wasn’t my excuse. But it made it easier to accept my clipped wings.

Then came the kids.

I still dreamed of traveling with one. And with two. But by #3 and #4 I sort of gave up. Too hard. Too expensive. I didn’t want to even risk the disappointment of unfulfilled dreams. I stopped dreaming.

My fantasies revolved more around road trips than a month in the Greek Islands.  Drive we did. To Oregon, and Utah. To the Grand Canyon, in an RV. It was fun. But there was no strange currency, weird food, or jet lag. You call that travel?

It didn’t fill me. All that domestic travel did for me was whet my appetite for more. I’m not satisfied.

My hunger now is not just for me. It’s for my children. I see how they love to see the world. How they love to explore and travel. Oh how I love to see the world reflected in their eyes as well!

 More and more they come home with a wistful look in their young eyes and tell tales about a friend who has been to Africa, or Rio, or Paris and a sigh that is so achingly familiar. I know that sigh. I did that sigh when they were just a twinkle in my eye.

Life is short and the world is big. This summer we’re taking an epic trip. One day in Paris. Two weeks in Israel, and a cruise that will take us to Italy, Greece (Hello Greek Island fantasy!) and Turkey. All six of us plus my parents as well! I’m nervous, excited and by the time I get home, probably broke. But I don’t care. It’s like someone pressed the “play” button and my life, our lives, were freed from a too long state of pause.

It’s happening. Finally. It’s happening.

 

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