Lessons for my daughters: On Travel

Phew… back to the sort of topic I think I will enjoy writing about. My last post, “On Education”, took quite a bit of soul-searching and I’m ready for something a little more light-hearted! My first thought on travel is that it excites me to ponder where in the world my girls might visit when they’re older. Will they want to travel together? Will they still want to travel with us? Will they be the thrill-seeking adventure types or bookworms by the pool? I could lose hours daydreaming about them meandering down charming cobblestone streets arm in arm, trinket shopping and discussing the local cuisine. This leads me to briefly panic about them appearing on Channel 5 drinking from a fishbowl in Magaluf.

Moving on. As ever, I’m approaching this cold so I have no idea what questions are going to come up. Anya, Ellora, here’s your sixth chapter…

Where we have travelled together: Anya, you haven’t done badly at all for a two year old: Italy, Mexico, Portugal, America and Germany, as I recall. Ellora, just Germany for you (unless you count America in utero)… travelling not so easy with two under two!

My favourite destinations: So many ways to answer this one… I would say that, for long haul holidays, island hopping in Thailand and driving around the West Coast of America both stand out as my favourites. Having my hen party in Bermuda was pretty incredible too (although I did not count on randomly bumping into someone from work in a nightclub there!). Closer to home, my favourites have to be Venice and Paris, but I also loved our long weekend in Berlin and look forward to visiting your Uncle Jack there on plenty more occasions (although I think we’ll time it for the Summer months in future!).

A travel experience that changed me: This probably has less to do with the destination and more to do with circumstances, but our honeymoon in Vancouver and Maui saw me through a momentous change in mindset. After juggling wedding planning with my MBA studies and the most demanding role at work that I’ve had to date, that fortnight away felt like the most relaxing experience on the planet. It was during this trip that we decided not to wait before trying for a family and, Anya, we were lucky enough to have you in our lives within a year.

A travel experience that frightened me: I mentioned earlier in this chapter that we travelled to America during the time that I was pregnant with you, Ellora. I was 26 weeks pregnant, to be precise. Well, when we arrived at Miami airport for our flight home, I almost wasn’t allowed to board the plane because I didn’t have a letter from my GP confirming that I was fit to fly (despite having all my hospital notes in tow… and pointing out that your daddy is in fact a doctor). By this point I’d reached 28 weeks and it turns out that that was the tipping point at which my ability to travel became at the airline’s discretion. We had to escalate the decision twice in order to gain permission and when I was eventually allowed on the plane I spent the whole flight home convinced that I would go into early labour (simply because I’d spent an entire hour insisting that I wouldn’t)!

Something I couldn’t have learned at home: You absolutely must make time for travelling with friends in your teens and twenties – regardless of when you settle down with a partner. You need the laughter, you need the fun, you probably need the odd argument, but most of all you need the memories. You don’t need to travel far and you don’t need to spend the earth (although, admittedly, splashing out a bit can definitely add to the fun in my experience!). The important thing is that you take a thousand hilarious photos so that one day, when you’re sat on the sofa breastfeeding a three month old baby in your pyjamas eating crunchy nut clusters straight from the box, you can look back and smile. I know that my days of travelling with friends aren’t over forever, but I’m definitely going through a bit of a dry spell while you two are so young.

The most beautiful place I have seen: It’s difficult to top my memory of the polished limestone streets of old town Dubrovnik, glistening in the sun. Your daddy and I spent a week there a few years before we got married and it was so romantic and picturesque. What I’d give for an afternoon eating seafood and drinking wine in front of the harbour right now… bliss!

Places I hope to take you to: I’d love to take you to many of the places your daddy and I have already built memories together as a couple; I’m sure that returning as a family would feel familiar and natural. One particular trip that I have in mind, however, is to a remote villa in the South of France. I would love to recreate the family holidays your Uncle Jack and I enjoyed as children and to watch your faces as we chase each other round the pool and play board games until well past bedtime. When your daddy and I eventually get you into bed we’ll stay up late drinking (too much) french wine and eating (too much) french bread and cheese under the stars.

Places I hope you visit alone: I’m not sure that I’m qualified to recommend travelling anywhere alone, given that fact that I haven’t travelled anywhere alone myself. It’s a missed experience I’m occasionally reminded of and I do like the thought of you two giving it a try (safely!) when you’re the right sort of age to enjoy it most. I would imagine it could teach you how to rely on yourself and start enjoying your own company… well, either that or it will highlight the fact that you’ve inherited your mother’s poor sense of direction and you’ll recruit a navigator.

Don’t travel without: Your camera, a good book and a classic pair of denim shorts. The list of essentials gets a teeny bit longer when you have kids.

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That one wasn’t so hard! Thanks so much for reading. We’re actually planning a bit of a trip-of-a-lifetime for the end of this year (Australia) and writing about travel has definitely raised my excitement levels even higher than they already were! Do let me know if you enjoyed this post or if you think I’ve missed out some important advice for my girls. My next topic, “On Seeing the Beauty Everywhere” (doesn’t that just sound like the nicest subject ever?!), will be landing soon. For now, here are just a few of the travel memories I look back on during those ‘crunchy nut cluster’ moments (all pre-kids so that Ellora doesn’t feel hard done by!)…

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