We recently returned from a 10 day trip to Colorado. For many of my friends, traveling is something they do regularly (for one, it’s something she does full-time), but for us, it’s rare. We stay put. We’re home bodies. For a variety of reasons, we have structured our lives differently. Some of our attempts at travel have turned into disasters (tours of medi-clinics of northern Virginia). But this trip went well. No one was injured or sick. The weather cooperated. The scenery was beautiful. I experienced professional growth and made new friends. My husband spent time with an old family friend.
And yet. Traveling with children is never really a vacation. You still referee arguments, answer endless questions, and everything is made harder by being unfamiliar. Apparently we don’t have an innate sense of adventure. But it was an excellent learning opportunity.
What did we learn?
- That being together non-stop in confined spaces doesn’t always bring out the best in us. People interrupt you, they will tell the story you were just about to tell, they will be in your physical space. Sometimes things will not go your way. Your preferences will have to take a backseat to someone else’s needs.
- That people elsewhere do things differently than you do. Even simple things like traffic signs look different. Different cities have different tolerances for things like smoking, etc.
- That it’s harder to notice all the special things about travel when your attention is focused on your electronic device.
- That every family member should be part of the planning and all needs should be considered. There are times when your agenda is being ignored, but you will have your turn.
- That my children are fiercely jealous of one another. They keep score, fight for attention, and notice everything.
- That there is benefit in taking a Sabbath rest, even on vacation. It’s okay to have a slow day. Just because there are sights to be seen, doesn’t mean it’s in everyone’s best interest to see them all. Sometimes a day of doing nothing is the right thing to do. Sometimes you need to take a vacation from the vacation, even if it means missing something.
- That some of the things you complained about as a child become your favorite things to do as an adult, and it just might be the same for the children who come after you. Persevere through the complaints.
- That we all have the inability to see our own faults, but we’re laser focused on the faults of others.
- That I myself am not immune. I still have many lessons to learn about selfishness and flexibility.
Travel gives us many opportunities to practice compassion. To put aside our own desires in favor of others. To offer grace instead of grumbling. I wish we had practiced a little harder. I wish I had set a better example.