Our family travel expert Moo has been all over the world with her kids and she has some thoughts on things she thought she would regret, but in the long run, are some of her favorite memories.
Thinking about a family vacation can seem so stressful in 2016. It’s about making decisions on how to spend your precious vacation time; it’s having to disconnect from social media; it’s work to find resources to arrange for the pet sitting, the mail, the shoveling; it’s about the money. But what are we working so hard for anyway? In my experience, traveling with my kids the last 20 years, my regrets are so comfortable to live with they make me smile. After all, isn’t it the crazy stories that give you a shared lifetime of pleasure with your precious children? It could not be resources better spent, to get away from everything and just be together. Here are my some of my favorite regrets I’ll never be sorry for:
I took Mira and Leo on a small boat adventure through Glacier Bay in Alaska. They were so disinterested pre-trip that I had to make them go, whining all the way. It took about 1 hour in Juneau for them to be totally enchanted, and they spent the whole week thanking me for bringing them along. I am so sorry I didn’t insist their older brother Milo come too!
Standing on the Great Wall of China, looking out over miles of mind-boggling history, Mira’s cell phone rang. (Mind you this was 2005. I didn’t even know she had it with her– and why was it in her pocket?? Why was it WORKING?) It was her friend Nora, who said “Mira, I thought you were in China” and Mira said, very casually, “I am. I’m on the Great Wall.” They chatted for a minute and I encouraged them to hang up – My fear was the phone bill. But in the end it was only 87 cents! I wish I’d let them talk longer.
Visiting the pandas, back when you could pay a ridiculous amount of money to hold one, Mira was outfitted in swaths of plastic robes, an effort to control contamination (Panda? Mira?). She sat on a bench, and a little man came from the side huffing and puffing with a panda. He hefted that panda up and slammed it into Mira’s lap; she looked totally startled and we both began to laugh so hard I almost forgot to take photos. About 30 seconds later the little man hauled the panda off and dragged it back to the pen. It was the most expensive 30 seconds of my life, and my only regret is it is not on video.
In Morocco we trekked through the High Atlas Mountains, a hike sometimes challenging – the precipitous drop-offs terrified me. As my kids and most of the other guests traipsed merrily along, the guide kept a careful but casual eye on my progress. At one point I even sat down and cried – but it turned into a moment of looking up and out rather than down, and the remote beauty of that spot captured my heart. I did finally make it to our stream-side camp where we soaked our feet in the icy water, ate delicious food, and star gazed until we slept. My regret? We didn’t trek for more days.
What may feel like regret when deciding to spend money or doing something your kids don’t want to do at the moment is fleeting. The memories from your family vacation will be worth it all— trust me!