Happy New Year from beautiful Naples, Florida! This past year sped by at what seems lightning speed, I’m having a hard time accepting we’re already into 2018. But as with every New Year, I’m ready to start afresh and put all those resolutions to work. Lord knows I have many of them (that will probably never get resolved)!
The New Year is no doubt a time of reflection. When I think about our travels in 2017 a few things pop into mind – things that reflect changing times for us as a family, things I thought might be interesting to share with you all.
Firstly, one of the main things I’ve taken note of is the fact that my girls are growing up to be big girls, and how that’s affected our travels. We are going to more sophisticated places and doing more sophisticated things now, which is…refreshing, and fun.
When I started this blog, I of course decided to do it out of my love for travel. That’s first and foremost. But, speaking honestly, I also started it out of the need to get out of the house with the little ones. Let’s face it – being cooped up inside with the kids can get boring. I’m an active person and not someone who likes to hang around the house all day (except for those cold and cozy winter days). I get ancy. Young kids can seriously put a damper on that! So, we started going on more and more excursions simply to entertain the kids, as we only have so much patience to entertain them ourselves.
That turned into us wanting to show our girls more and more of what’s out there in the world, and realizing that we were more capable of doing more adventures and exploring than we thought. Thus, came the birth of fifi + hop. I wanted to help and inspire other families out there in my same shoes and show them that travel can still happen, just with some tweaking and alterations.
Aquarium visits, museums, nature preserves, etc. became the norm for weekends. Beach and pool vacations became the norm for holiday trips. As the girls grew, that morphed into us planning more and more trips where the destination was a place we really wanted to go to, not just a place that we knew the kids would love.
Flash forward to now, we’re pretty much going wherever we desire – with some exceptions of course – yet without the anxiety of “how will the kids fare”? A big part of that is due to the walking – the girls are at an age now where they can walk for miles without complaining. The year 2017 was a pivotal point in regards to that. Our youngest, age 7 for most of the year (she recently turned 8) could walk for much longer periods than in years past. That was huge.
Additionally, our girls now being 10 and 8, they want to do many things we want to do, go to restaurants we want to go to. Don’t get me wrong, we still do PLENTY of kids-oriented activities, but some of the more adult things, such as hiking down a strenuous, steep trail to a secluded beach in Mallorca, they’re into as well.
Mallorca is a good example of how our travels have changed. Or I should say, Western Mallorca is a good example. We visited the mountains in Western Mallorca this past summer, and while it was an incredible trip and one I would recommend to anyone, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to my earlier self 5 years ago. Not the mountaineous part of the island at least. The hills and driving – while spectacular – would have been much more difficult with toddlers. We would not have fared well in the hike we did! The girls would have gotten car sick with all those turns, and in general it wouldn’t have been nearly as relaxing of a trip. And who doesn’t go to Mallorca to relax?!
Another example from this past year is our trip to New Orleans. Yes, Nola is kid-friendly! But would I have really wanted to take my kids when they were babies or young toddlers? No! Not for me at least. Of course people do it, and there are many kid-oriented activities as I talk about in my post New Orleans with Kids, but the girls being that much older this year really made our trip that much more enjoyable. Drinking is a big part of the Nola culture, and it would have been no fun to have to wake up at the crack with very young kids. That’s my view anyway.
Our weekend visit to Philadelphia is another example. Philly is one of the most family-friendly cities in the United States so I don’t want to discourage anyone from going, but I’m glad we waited until the girls were the ages they were, because they could learn and process all that Philly stands for in regards to U.S. history. That’s a major reason why families like to visit the city, so for us why would we take the girls before they could understand the importance of such a significant city? Actually, we did once when our oldest was a baby, but that was for a wedding, and we barely had time to explore around!
Those are just some examples from 2017 of how our travels have changed, as they do with any growing family. As I write this post, I realize a major theme running here is to not feel rushed with your travels. There are different stages for different ages, and you want to make sure you enjoy your trip, and that your kids do too. It’s ok to wait, or hold out for a certain place.
Also, every family is different. Some people can’t believe we took our kids to Venice and Florence starting at the age of 3 for our youngest, while others visited earlier than we did, with their babies. Do what’s right for your family. Travel is not about ticking off the list, it’s about enjoying another culture immensely, and the thrill of experience and discovery. Do it on your own terms!
And those are my reflections, insights, whatever you want to call them, for our year of 2017 travel. I didn’t want to go through everything we did and every place we visited, but simply share what I learned from our year.
I hope 2018 brings everyone much health, happiness, and as I always like to throw in – a good dose of laughter!
This post is part of Faraway Files