I grew up traveling. My mom managed a travel agency which gave her the opportunity to take me many places. The travel bug started young for me, and once I had a taste for it, I knew it was a tradition I would continue.
So when Dave and I had the opportunity to live in Austria while he did an Oral Surgery Externship, we jumped at the chance. Never mind the fact we had two small children; just 2 and 1 years old.
We were young and adventurous enough to think we could do anything, and so off we went to spend one golden summer in Europe. To say it was magical doesn’t even do it justice.
For starters, we lived in a convent in Graz, Austria. Just imagine the Sound of Music, and you’re getting close. Our room was above the nuns chapel, so we awoke to the sounds of singing every morning.
Dave would work in the hospital Monday through Thursday, then we’d travel each weekend to tour a new country. I spent my week days strolling through the city and playing in the park all while plotting out the details of our next weekend adventure. Remember, this was before iPhones and GPS, so maps and a eurail pass were my best friend back then.
Planes, trains, and automobiles... we experienced all of it, with kids in tow. It was a little hard, a lot of work, but mostly incredibly amazing, romantic, and exciting!
We toured England, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Chzeklosovakia, and Budapest, not to mention the countless castles, cathedrals, cozy restaurants and small towns with quaint features rich in history.
As I think back to what made it so much fun….it was the endless options and freedom to roam freely and see where we’d end up. No set agenda, just a plan to see as much of Europe as possible, and boy did we.
Sure it was difficult with our two little kiddos in tow, like when Chase wiggled free and escaped beyond the ropes to launch toward King Ludwig’s bed. We were kindly escorted off that tour!
We lost bottles, missed trains, changed diapers in crazy places, even got lost upon occasion. And we loved it all.
My favorite memory was the time Dave put gas in our diesel rental car. We got back on the road and made it a several miles until the car puttered to a stop on the side of the road. We were in the middle of the Swiss Alps and had no clue how far it was to the next city.
Dave ventured ahead by foot while I stayed back with the two littles. Luckily, there was a small town just up and over the hill, where we ended up stranded for the weekend.
Miraculously, that little town not only was the most picturesque you could imagine, but it had a dealership for the very model car we had rented. Even though we blew our budget, we were up and running again in a few days, sad to say goodbye to the cows and chickens!
It’s amazing how seeming disasters can turn out to be some of life’s greatest experiences. When you decide to replace worry with wonder, and search out the miracles that always surround us, you get to enjoy just about any experience that comes your way.
I’m so glad we didn’t let the fact that we were young parents living on a tight budget stop us from seizing that opportunity. There were many reasons not to do it, but the rewards of that summer abroad have stuck with me.
Now 20 years later, I still travel - a lot - but often with 5 kids now. They’ve been all over the world with me, from Europe to Asia and everywhere in between.
As I write this I’m on a plane from Rio to Salvador Brazil, and it’s the 5th plane I’ve been on this week. Just a week ago I was in Prague. That’s why I’m reminiscing about our fun family travels and where it began.
Yes, we are a traveling, adventuring family. It’s in my blood and I’ve passed it onto my kids. My oldest son is living in the Philippines and my oldest daughter lives in Chile. Both are on service missions and loving every minute of it. They’ve grown up a lot since that European summer!
What adventures do you want to take? Have you been holding back? It’s a lot easier than you may think and the rewards are worth it. So get out there and go… have an adventure of your own!