Starting Our Family Travels Again
It's been 3.5 years since we've been out of the country and it's almost unbearable to think about. Where did the time go? What happened to our plan of traveling long term? For nearly six months in 2014, Brett, Eleanor, and I traveled around Europe. It was a great adventure, and truth be told, it was also a lot of work. However, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start from the beginning.
When Eleanor was born, Brett and I were running our own business. It was turning into a lifestyle business, and while we did get to look at the beautiful Flatirons from our home office window in Boulder, Colorado, we started to wonder why we were limiting ourselves to one location. We did not have any employees, no office to clock in at daily, no family nearby, and a business that only needed a good wifi connection.
Almost as soon as we brought Eleanor home from the hospital we hatched the plan of traveling with her. We set a goal of one year and got to planning. We started this blog, sold 90% of our stuff, applied for Eleanor's passport, and secured Global Entry for all 3 of us. It was a whirlwind of a year, but planning and dreaming was half of the fun.
When we left on our adventures, we could not have been more excited. We spent a couple of weeks with family around the U.S.A; going to weddings and high school graduations and then we were off.
Our itinerary looked like this:
- 6 weeks in Buckden, England
- 1 weekend in London for a friend's wedding
- 10 days in Scotland (this 10-day road trip was one of the highlights of the entire 6 months)
- 1 month in Munich, Germany
- 1 month in Olten, Switzerland
- 1 week in Athens, Greece for a blogging conference
- 1 week in Barcelona, Spain
- 1 weekend in Girona, Spain (a surprise addition, thanks to the blogging conference!)
- 3 weeks in Granada, Spain
- 1 more week in England (due to Schengen constraints)
We loved getting to catch up with friends in each of the places we visited and meeting new ones along the way. Exploring new locations and historical sites, eating new foods, spending time with Eleanor, and taking tons of photos were the best parts of the trip.
So why did we stop after just one continent, when our original plan had been to make it to three?
Reason #1: We tried to do too much!
On top of running a business from halfway around the world, we were first time parents, freelancers, new bloggers, and travelers. It's exhausting just writing all of that out! About 2 weeks in, I gave up my freelance work. The quality of my work was suffering and I needed to focus on spending time with our baby, answering support requests and sales emails, blogging about our adventures, planning our daily activities, and the next leg of the trip.
Reason #2: We did not plan well in advance
You always hear about the romantic ways things just happen and fall into place. While this did happen to us once at the blogging conference, most of the places we stayed and things we did could have been planned out in advance. By not planning ahead, I had one foot in our current location and one foot in the future planning our next destination.
Reason #3: We let the stress get to us
I blame sleep deprivation! A funny tidbit - babies don't sleep like adults. Looking back this is not really surprising and those of you that are parents would be giving me a knowing look if we were sitting across from each other, but as new parents, we forgot to adjust for this. With that in mind, it was not surprising that we were lured back to The States while relaxing in the comforts of our family homes for the holidays.
The only trouble is that it left us wondering, "What could have been?"!?
What we're doing differently this time:
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result. Well, traveling is in our blood. We cannot stop dreaming about seeing the world so now's the time to try again with a few modifications.
This year, we are taking the summer to travel to Europe again. We are planning to stay in Spain for the first month, travel around via train the second month, and visit family and friends the 3rd month. All before Eleanor starts kindergarten in the fall. It's longer term travel, but not open ended. We will be returning to a home base and living a more "regular" life during the school year.
Fix #1: Doing Less = More Fun
Remember how I said the road trip in Scotland was our favorite part of the 6 month excursion? A big part of that was that we treated it more like a vacation. We did the bare minimum on our business, Brett took a break from freelancing, and we just let loose a bit.
We are taking that lesson with us. This time we are focusing on parenting, traveling, and blogging only. We are working on finding a school/day care for Eleanor part time during our first month of traveling. This will get her socializing with kids her own age and plenty of play time. She is a high energy kid so we've learned that she needs to get out and run around - a lot! This will also give Brett and I time to regroup as we will not have family or friends nearby to lean on for a night-off here and there.
Fix #2: Planning more ahead of time
In order to avoid always having one foot in the future, we are trying to plan as much as possible before we leave. This means, booking our long-term stays, getting train tickets, setting a basic schedule, and planning the major excursions.
Our goal is to have 75% of the trip mapped out before we go. We hope this will let us not worry about what is coming up next, but still leave enough flexibility to add/subtract things as new opportunities present themselves.
Fix #3: C'est la vie!
We are learning to let things go and just go with the flow more. It's not going to be perfect and I'm not even sure what that would look like anyway. At the end of the day, we are going to have some amazing experiences to look back on, great memories, beautiful family pictures, new friends, and perhaps new favorite tastes.
There will be ups and downs. Meditation will help with the unknown. Coffee will help with the sleep deprivation. Smiling and laughing will cure everything else.
I'm off to wrap up the planning, pack us up, and get on the next plane. Won't you follow along on our adventures? Choose your favorite below!
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