Whether it’s throwing the kids in the car, throwing caution to the wind, and just driving with no particular destination in mind, or traveling to faraway lands to explore the wider world as a family, we love adventure travel. What we don’t talk about too much (maybe because it’s not as catchy as a blog post), is the comfort we find in the familiar, time-tested trips or experiences we’ve made before as a family, the smaller adventures that quickly become family traditions.
As the years pass and the children grow, I realize these trips are just as important as the “big adventures.” In fact, one of the things the whole family most looks forward to each year is our fall trip to a log cabin we rent in the mountains of West Virginia. We know exactly what to pack—good hiking shoes, rain jackets, and water colors are on top of our list—and what we’re going to eat—stew or chili on the first night, BBQ from the Earth Dog Café on the second, and smores in the stone fire place to cap off each night.
I was born in Belgium, moved to New York at age 9, and lived in Ethiopia from age 11-14 before moving back to New York. During those years, we traveled extensively as a family, and I wouldn’t trade that for the world. But the summers I spent on the Belgian coast in vacation homes with good family friends were an anchor of comfort and familiarity in what were sometimes difficult transitions.
Although my kids aren’t facing the hardships (and joys) of adjusting to a new culture, in their own way, they are making important transitions this coming year. Julian is starting middle school, Jacques is entering fifth grade without the comfort of his big brother being at the same school, and Jeremy is starting Kindergarten.
This week, we’re heading off to Maine. We’re renting a house on a lake with a dock where the kids can fish and jump into the lake (again). We plan to hike in Acadia National Park and eat lots of lobstah (again). And once again, we will spend a couple of days in Boston, staying at an Embassy Suites on the outskirts of town. You know, the one we’ve stayed at before with the awesome breakfast and the indoor pool. Maybe on the way home, we’ll eat at the diner we always stop at on our way back from grandma’s house after Christmas.
Next summer, we plan to take a month-long trip to explore faraway lands. But today, we are embracing comfort travel to prepare us for the school and career adventures of fall.