Family Travel

American Kids in Paris

Originally published on August 01, 2009

 

A family vacation in a foreign country can open your hearts and minds to the wonders of another culture, while drawing you closer to each other.

Okay, it’s true. We’re on vacation... again.      

In fact, we’re in Paris! 

C’est magnifique.       

Why, given the economy in general and my lack of employment in particular, are we out on the road again? (Technically speaking, we did not drive to Paris. But you know what I mean.) 

We are in Paris because the world is a wondrous place and it is worth stretching ourselves a bit to see it (in my humble opinion.) 

We are in Paris because my seventy-three-year-old mother has wanted to get back to France for the past several years, to retrace her father’s steps when he served in the 51st Pioneer Infantry in World War I. 

We are in Paris because my children are entering puberty and I am in the midst of perimenopause and for whatever hormone-induced reason, we seem to do better when we travel. 

Something about a moving target...

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For Fun Family Travel, Step off the Beaten Path

One of the best things about family travel is the way you can venture off your normally beaten path, joyfully stumbling into something new and different. It is a great opportunity to expand your family horizons.

Great Blue Heron We've been doing a bit of exploration during our trip to Florida. We've discovered a couple spots we'd never been to before, tried some new foods and pushed the boundaries of our comfort zone just a bit.

It's been fun, sometimes a wee bit scary and mostly delicious.

For example, the cat fish was yummy... the frog legs, not so much. 

Yesterday, we took a boat ride up the Loxahatchee River. We saw an alligator sunning on the bank, a manatee hiding in the warm, shallow waters and lots of birds. Osprey, Cormorants and Great Blue Herons.

Alligator We visited the camp of "Trapper Nelson", also known as "Wild Man of the Loxahatchee", who lived in the jungle along the banks of the river for over thirty years. A trapper cum entrepreneur, Nelson built a wilderness compound that included a zoo, picnic grounds and boat house. Wealthy tourists from Palm Beach used to boat up the river for an afternoon of authentic rustication. And alligator wrestling.

I am happy to report that the camp site, while preserved for historic purposes, no longer hosts bobcats, rattlesnakes and alligators. At least, none that we saw while hiking around.

There was apparently a Mrs. Trapper Nelson, but she didn't last long. I guess it was all a bit too far out of her comfort zone.

Loxahatchee As we prepare to wind up our time here, I am grateful for our adventures. The time we've spent together -- as a family and with friends -- has been wonderful.

I will miss the sunshine, the warmth and the relaxed interactions with my children.

The alligators, not so much.


Related Posts

Read more about family travel in, "The Importance of Family Vacations."

If you are planning your own family trip, you might need "My Top 12 Tips for Traveling with Kids on Planes."

Recommended Reading

Trapper Nelson spent most of his adult life off the beaten path. Read about his real-life adventures (and controversy) in Life and Death on the Loxahatchee: The Story of Trapper Nelson, by James D. Snyder. 


Gone Fishin'

On the benefits of getting away from it all... and keeping in touch in the process.

     

Greetings from the tropics... or at least, Florida. We’re still here, now spending a few days on the east coast, visiting friends of the family. We drove over with my mother yesterday. My parents’ house is about a hundred and fifty miles from here, but she hasn’t made the trip in over ten years.

   

Which is a lesson for us all. Time passes quickly. Fortunately, these are the best type of friends: The kind where you feel like you just saw them yesterday, no matter how long it’s been. (And we’ve seen them in other places, so it’s not as bad as it sounds.)

 

101_3519 My sons think we have discovered the coolest place ever. There is a freshwater pond in the back yard, complete with fishing dock. They haven’t caught anything yet, but that’s probably not really important. They are loving the process.

 

Conscious parenting is all about living in the moment... but sometimes, we parents need a reminder.

  

I am sitting in the lanai (Florida-speak for screened-in porch), listening to the rustle of palm trees. There is bamboo growing at the edge of the deck. It is about fifteen feet tall. We don’t have bamboo in New England, except for the little pot of “lucky bamboo” on my kitchen windowsill, which is sadly not thriving.

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French Connection: On Bonding with My Children While in Paris

  

Now that our Parisian family vacation is a fait accompli, I am reflecting on the moments that have turned into treasures.

  

This is perhaps the best part of family travel: We expose our children to new experiences and cultures, while creating new memories for our family.

 

Or at least, new memories for the parents. (That would be me.)

  

The lessons of connection parenting teach us to build lasting bonds with our children through daily, high-quality interactions. These are the ties that keep us together through thick and thin; the links that encourage our children to listen and learn, when we need to deliver the harder messages of parenting.

  

And yet, how often does this happen in “real life?” They grow up so fast. And when we are home – soon to be caught up in another school year – our daily tasks and responsibilities can get in the way of our relationships.

  

When we are battling over math homework or racing to another soccer tournament, it is easy to lose track of whether we are really growing as a family.

   

When we travel, it doesn’t take quite so much effort to feel our hearts, minds and souls expanding. It is right there in front of us, each and every moment.

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American Teenager in Paris

  

A family vacation abroad can be a growth experience for all concerned! We were lucky enough to have my nineteen-year-old niece Catherine accompany us on our recent trip to France. As you can see below, she is a lovely, thoughtful young lady... and just a bit wise beyond her years. Enjoy!  - Meg

 

From Catherine:

      

“So here I find myself making my first trip to Europe at the ripe old age of 19. For ten whole days I have left my parents, my five siblings, and many friends thousands of miles away.

I have temporarily abandoned my customary routines and habits. I am doing, seeing, and exploring things I have always dreamed of – and feeling overwhelmed in the process.

   

From the art high produced by roaming through the Louvre to baking like a roasted chicken on the Bateaux Parisien tour along the Seine, it’s been an adventure.

Traveling with one’s seventy-three year old grandmother, one’s aunt, and one’s two cousins aged ten and eleven hardly sounds like a teenager’s dream vacation to Paris. Yet I have found it to be one of the best ways to travel.

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The Importance of Family Vacations

 

Perhaps the best thing about family vacations – especially for conscious parenting – is that they provide an opportunity to be fully present with our children.

  

I was on the phone with my father the other day. He was teasing me (I hope), saying that since I was no longer “working”, I really shouldn’t need a vacation.

  

Hmm.

  

Perhaps it is a generational thing. Or a guy thing. Or just my dad.

  

At any rate, vacations are absolutely critical to my overall sense of well-being, even when they are the tour-five-countries-in-three-days-and-come-home-totally-exhausted kind of vacation.

  

Now that I am a parent, I do mainly “family vacations.” Which means, I try to limit myself to one (max two) countries per trip. And the purpose of my vacations has shifted a bit, as well.

   

I still vacation to reconnect with friends and family; to explore new places and cultures; and/or to simply get away from the daily stresses of work, home ownership and bill-paying.

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Happy Flights: Avoiding Airplane Ear Pain

 

Welcome back to the deep, dark mysteries of family travel.

 

Last week I posted My Top 12 Tips for Traveling with Kids on Planes. I received feedback from several concerned moms, asking for suggestions on how to avoid the dreaded airplane ear pain

   

First, please note that I am not a health professional and I do not offer medical advice. I am writing based on my own personal experience here. 

   

Also, if you are traveling with infants or very young (non-verbal) children... you have my support, my sympathy – and if you happen to be sitting behind me on my next flight – my utmost understanding.

 

Caring for a baby in pain takes a special kind of grace. Comforting one in the cramped, sometimes hostile confines of an airplane should earn you some kind of medal.

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My Top 12 Tips for Traveling with Kids on Planes

 

Airplanes and your children: A good mix?

 

Greetings from 30,000 feet. We are somewhere over Baltimore – or maybe Richmond, Virginia – on our way to a family vacation in Florida.

Sunshine. Warmth. Grandma and Grandpa. Mickey Mouse.

 

What more could a sun-deprived, so-darn-tired-of-winter-I-could-just-spit, family from New England ask for??

This is a relatively easy trip for us.

   

I promised myself, when I adopted my sons (at the ages of two and three), that I would not give up my passion for travel. Just because there were three of us – and at that point, two of us became stroller-bound when fatigued or cranky – we needn’t give up the wonders of seeing the world up close and personal.

 

That would be taking the concept of “stay-at-home Mom” just a little too far.

Continue reading "My Top 12 Tips for Traveling with Kids on Planes" »