I’ve learned a lot over the past eight years, first through traveling with my wife, then with my daughter, and now as a family of four. It’s easy to blog about the great experiences and make everything sound hunky dory, but I’ve long wanted to write a series talking about the real experience of traveling together as a family. Hope you enjoy Part I: The Glue.
Family travel sometimes feels like a chaotic ballet. When you’re firing on all cylinders, everything falls beautifully in place and you navigate through airports, foreign cities, and tourist sites like you’re floating on air.
When things go badly, your family comes crashing down (sometimes literally!) and you ask yourself if the chaos and stress justifies the final product. I’ve rocked crying babies to sleep in airplane lavatories, pushed strollers in circles around hotel rooms, and taken my fair share of walks with toddlers outside of restaurants.
But the cold, hard, reality is that traveling with children really multiplies the amount of parenting you have to do. Travel can be stressful enough without the kids – I remember some dicey moments on our honeymoon!
That’s why none of this would be possible without The Glue, aka my wife. I like to think of myself as a fairly involved dad, but even with that caveat I recognize our family would be completely lost without her. Let me count the ways.
The Glue keeps our plans grounded in reality
For our family, some trips just aren’t worth it. Unfortunately, my brain no longer operates with proper risk/reward parameters. Thus it falls on my wife to be the voice of reality, which is supremely needed.
No, we should not take three connections just to try out a new business class product. No, we should not leave at 5 AM just so we can spend more time on the ground. Yes, we should rent an apartment instead of staying in a hotel because the extra space will help our kids transition better, lounge or no lounge.
The Glue has helped me learn that the best deals might not be the best situations for our family. As we have learned to plan together over the years, we have found a sweet spot between adventure and taking it easy which has really helped us enjoy our travel together as a family.
The Glue knows how to prepare for every situation
Another huge contribution my wife makes to our family travel also happens before we leave the ground: packing. Sure we make a list together and I’ve gotten better about choosing clothes for the kids that aren’t exclusively hooded sweatshirts and sweatpants; she still knows everything the kids need.
More importantly, she organizes our luggage incredibly well and she knows where to find everything. We leave home prepared with milk, books, toys, entertainment. No matter the need, Jess knows where to find it. We rarely if ever get caught lacking some necessity, all because of The Glue.
The Glue knows how to put out fires
Meltdowns are a staple of traveling with young kids. When they are babies, they meltdown for perfectly understandable reasons: their ears are popping, they are hungry, they are tired. By the time they are preschoolers, they start melting down for…less understandable reasons. Like, “I didn’t want you to cut my potatooooooooooooooooo!” OK then.
Jess is a master of putting out these fires. 90% of the time she manages to figure out how to calm the kids down, or else she keeps me calm enough so I don’t exacerbate the problem. Meltdowns can be very stressful and cool heads are required to deescalate the situation. This is probably one of the things we do best as a family: my wife is the perfect person to collaborate with when we need to calm our kids down.
The Glue always remains supportive
In the end, we couldn’t travel if Jess wasn’t super supportive of family travel. It’s easy to count up all the things that can go wrong when you hit the road. Jess manages to prepare for those things while still looking forward to the things that can go right when we’re traveling together.
On top of all that, she puts up with all the shenanigans that I engage in to make our travel more comfortable. The reality is, as partners we need to work together to pick the best destinations and itineraries for our kids. Jess does a great job of balancing out my craziness and we are able to find a middle ground that gets us up in the air.
If this sounds like a love letter to my wife…uh, well I guess it kind of is. This series is about the real struggles we go through as a family when we travel, but I felt it needed to start off with the only reason we can travel successfully: my wife.
Who’s The Glue in your family?