February 16, 2014
There have been times in our lives when we were able to enjoy almost unlimited travel at an affordable cost.
You all know about these times…before the kids, the pets, the jobs, the mortgage.
Then, there have also been times when we have felt as far away from a life of travel as Burlington, North Carolina is from Ulan Bator, Mongolia.
If you’re in one of those periods, this post is for you!
Even though we’re in the travel business, we’re in a stage in the life of a family when travel can be hard…too many obligations and demands on our time…time which seems to be disappearing and kids who seem to be growing up by the second.
When could be a better time to travel?
The kids are young and still think we’re cool.
They’re learning at an amazing pace and soaking up everthing around them…it’s overwhelming to see sometimes.
How do you do it?
How do you live a life truly enriched by travel and still live within your means?
How do you live that life without selling everything and traveling the world non-stop for the next three years…and what would we do with Cheddar anyway?
Right answers to those questions are never clear cut, but here are five hints from our playbook:
1. Really get to know your home state
It’s quite easy to think of travel as a long-distance sort of thing – to dream of those days in a hut over the water in Bora Bora and completely ignore what’s close to home.
Right here in North Carolina, we have enough interesting spots to keep a family busy for years with short day and weekend trips.
Paddling at Lake Mackintosh near Burlington, NC
Living in Burlington, NC, we’re especially fortunate to be near the geographic center of the state so we’re basically a three hour drive from the mountains and a three hour drive from the beach.
2. Get a taste of the world through food
This might be one of the easiest ways to channel a little of the best of a travel addiction.
Really, Tokyo is only a order of good sushi away, isn’t it? France is just a bottle of Cotes de Rhone from our front door, Germany a bottle of pilsner, Spain an order of tapas, and China a Sunday brunch of dim sum.
A short drive to the farmer’s market is a quick way to visit the coast!
Better yet, collect international cook books or scour the web for great international receipes and put the whole family to work in the kitchen.
Gather them around your own table for a trip to anywhere in the world through a meal made by your own hands.
3. Take occasional just-for-the-grownups-one-night-away-luxury-vacations
We find luxury high-end hotels within an hour of home and spend the occasional night away tapping our parents for kid-care – makes us feel like high flying jet-setters if only for an occasional night.
Both hotels are quite fancy and more than we could afford to pay for the whole family. But just for us, they make for wonderful grown-up getaways and give us a feel of traveling to a European capital.
The settings are beautiful – the O’Henry has a very traditional feel, dark wood, leather furniture, rich fabrics, and the rooms have the most amazing bathrooms that we never want to leave behind.
A night away at either will give you the feel of first class cosmopolitan travel without breaking the bank on transportation or taking you away from home and work.
It’s a great way to get the feel of fancy travel and easily feed that travel additction!
4. Read travel and read travel online
Reading is the ultimate travel.
With a book you can visit any corner of this planet or any other planet an author can imagine. With particular books you can visit particular places and sometimes not in the way you might think.
Yes, travel writing as a literary genre can be an amazing way to learn more about travel, but books set in specific places – whether about traveling or not – can really help you experience a place.
William Faulkner can take you to the deep south in a way a trip down I 85 to Atlanta and then west on I 20 never really can. Ian Flemming can give you a feel for Great Britain as well as Jamaica. Dostoyevsky can take you to Russia.
The choices are infinite!
Travel blogs and websites can feed that travel addiction in a wholly other way. So many travel blogs exist and finding those few that speak to you is part of the fun. You can find so many insights regarding travel from the online world.
Of course, reading too many travel blogs can feed an unhealthy sense of travel envy. Understand you own parameters and don’t let anyone else define your life of travel!
5. Take short parent-child getaways
I’m sure many of you will be familiar with this, but when we travel together as a family, it is often times a major production. And while we wouldn’t give it up for anything and we truly treasure those major productions, we don’t get some of the same one-on-one experiences with the kids.
Chased in from the pool by a thunderstorm, with Dad at the Inn on the Biltmore Estate
We like to foster both a greater love of travel and more time with the kids through individual parent-child travel.
Those occasional weekend getaways to somewhere close by with just one of the parents and one of the kids really become special events. We have taken easy trips to Wilmington (to see the battleship and enjoy the beach), to the Inn on the Biltmore Estate, to the Pisgah Inn and other North Carolina beach and mountain spots.
These easy short trips are leading us to thoughts about more distant and elaborate parent-child trips.
I’m currently day-dreaming with our son Becket about a trip to Japan, just us. It might actually happen. But, the day-dreaming and the initial plans are fun and keep us involved in travel.
Those are just five ways we enjoy a life of travel in this busy time. We would love to hear how you do it.
Never forget, though, to: