This travel guest post is by the lovely Aimee Chan, founder of suitcasesandstrollers.com.
“Me” time = No kids time. Right? Normally in my day-to-day life, this holds true. I find rejuvenation from those small breaks away from the children: a 10 minute coffee in a café before the supermarket shopping. An entire episode of a television show watched uninterrupted, stolen in the wee hours when everyone is asleep.
But it’s when you travel with kids that all get turned on its head. Firstly, one rarely gets a moment alone on family vacation. Until the kids are old enough for the kids club, you are on duty 24/7. Plus you’re out of your comfort zone away from the usual bag of tricks you have to keep the children quiet and entertained and you sane.
So it’s odd that for me…
My greatest moments of clarity and connection – those moments when I really appreciate who I am and the life that I lead – happen on the road. Surrounded by children, luggage, maps and foreign languages, this is where I am most at peace.
And the more adventurous and ambitious the trip, the more this applies. If we are at an all-inclusive beach club somewhere relaxing on the sand, cocktails in hand, kids collecting shells, this is certainly peaceful. But inspiration rarely comes.
Instead, inspiration finds me on a long family adventure holiday in a safari park half way around the world in South Africa, with little ones in the backseat, as we all stare in awe at a massive bull elephant who saunters straight past our little hatchback.
Or inspiration and I meet while standing on the train platform in Berlin, huffing and puffing after hauling a stroller with a heavy toddler up 3 huge flights of stairs, people-watching the punks and the rockers, straight from the 1980s, go about their daily business.
These are the moments that I truly feel at the core of myself and that I am where I am meant to be, living the life I am meant to live.
Maybe it’s the perspective you get from being so far away from home and so out of your comfort zone. Maybe it’s the child-like wonder you feel at the vastness and volume of experiences out there. Being such a small being in a huge world makes your wee problems feel so teeny tiny. All I know is that these are the moments I feel rejuvenated, refreshed, happy and alive. And the fact that my children are there to experience this with me is integral to the “A-ha” moment because, of course, they are an integral part of me.
So that, for me, is why family vacations are so important. Because no matter how stressful they are to coordinate or expensive they are do, they force you to shed all the securities of daily life and move through the world with just you in your raw state – no career or schedule or routine or pre-conceptions to hide behind.
Travel is a way to force yourself and your kids to embrace other people who are different to you, learn about the world and ultimately learn about yourself in it.
And that – discovering more about yourself – is the ultimate way to spend “me” time and the best thing you can do for you.
Aimee Chan is a magazine editor and founder of suitcases&strollers. She has had extensive experience in travel writing and been all over the world from Bhutan to The Maldives, Ecuador to outback Australia.
At suitcases&strollers she provides tips and inspiration for other parents with kids under 12 who want to travel including:
- how to fly long haul with kids
- to how to overcome jet lag
- a list of the best family-friendly airlines