Enjoy the Trip!

I am writing this letter from the N.C. Mountains while on a relaxing mini-vacation with my husband, Chip, and son, Crawford. Ha! That is an oxymoron. Has any mother ever really had a “relaxing vacation” with kids? Seriously, even when our family tries hard to relax we are always on the go. As I’ve shared with you before, my travel personality is full steam ahead — experience everything possible in whatever time is given to me. It drives Chip crazy.

On this trip, it was no different. We arrived determined to have a de-stressing long weekend and I was in charge of making it happen. Big mistake! My idea of relaxing includes skiing, tubing and snowboarding with a little ice-skating on the side, if we get an extra hour. And nothing will get in the way of my relaxation.

The one-and-a-half-hour wait in line for children’s snowboard school did not dissuade me, even when some parents jumped line in front of me. As I stood in another hour-long line amid the chaos in the lift ticket and adult rentals area, I kept on smiling. It was, in all fairness, a holiday weekend, so I knew what to expect. Even the drizzling rain that turned the mountain snow into slush and our clothes into wet rags did not discourage me from a happy attitude. I was, miraculously, able to tap into my travel Zen. I was just happy to be there. But for most people it wouldn’t be qualified as tranquil.

Let’s face it. Suiting up for snow, hauling ski boots uphill, peeling off wet layers of clothing, and pulling a kid off the slopes when the day is done, but HE is not, is not necessarily relaxing. (You could say the same for slathering sunscreen on all the kids, loading up the sand toys, packing the cooler with water and snacks, and hauling it all down to the beach.) But, it is rewarding and that’s why I love to travel with my family.

I believe money spent on travel is one of the best investments ever made in our children. Traveling grants children an insight into the world outside their microcosm. It gives them a perspective that is life-affirming and mind-expanding. (If, of course, you mix it up and go for variety, not just theme parks.)

When children travel they learn to share, adjust to their surroundings, make new friends, sample new foods, sleep in new beds and exist on new timetables. They try different modes of transportation and experience new cultures; certainly they are exposed to new climates, landscapes and architecture. Most importantly, they learn about people. From the ski lift dude to the kids club companion from another state, a trip away from home gives your child a fresh look at the world and a new appreciation of home.

Ahh … yes. Isn’t that the beauty of getting away — coming home? Travel helps kids and parents alike, value the comfort and familiarity of home. There’s no place like it.

I love putting together our travel issue. It fills me with anticipation of hitting the road again. (Even when I’m worn out from the most recent jaunt.) So, read on and find out about all the places you might explore with your kids. From gem mining in the North Carolina mountains near Linville (pg 67) to Kids Clubs on the beaches of the Bahamas (pg 26), we explore destinations for every family and offer tips on “Saving for Summer Vacation” (pg 30) to get you there with your budget intact.

This month marks my two-year anniversary as editor of Charlotte Parent magazine. And what a great trip it has been. Thanks for traveling with me and I look forward to our path as parents into the future.

Enjoy the journey, wherever the road takes your family …