I have two daughters. They are 5 and 7 months old. They take a lot of attention. Babies are babies. They need so much from you. On top of everything, my five year old has special needs, so her needs of my time and attention are ten times that of a typically developing child.
On top of all that, my husband is in the Army. We have been through two major deployments and countless TDY’s (mini trips away for you non-military folk). We have moved seven times in the last ten years. Two of those moves have been international. Two of them have been while I was pregnant.
I sit here in my OB’s office writing this to say that the bottom line is this: our plate is full and we’ve got a lot to stress about.
Travel has been the thing that keeps us grounded and pulls the focus from all those outside things back to ourselves.
We have traveled to get one last breath in before a deployment. We have traveled to get to know one another again after deployments. Vacations give us time to focus on each other and time to focus on ourselves.
When you are a military family, a special needs family, or even just a super stressed out family, I can’t think of anything more important.
Travel makes you focus on your priorities. It creates the memories and the opportunity for laughter and love – the things you need the most when life gets hard.
Where do you start?
- Make a plan. Stop with the somedays and the maybes and just plan it. Pick a location. Set a date. Put the date out longer if you need to budget for it and adopt the Nike motto to life and “Just do it!” This is your mental health we are talking about!
- You’ve got your heart set on a location or a time of the year. Now what? Consult an expert. Get in touch with a travel advisor! Grab a guide book if you are super DIY. But find someone who knows what they are doing who can send you to where you want to go. There is nothing worse than traveling to Paris and ending up in the outskirts of the 19th arrondissement. Do your research or pay for it later. Once you do……
- Set your budget! If you are working with a travel advisor, they can help set you up with a proposal and an estimate of costs. If you are foraging on your own, I suggest listing out all your “must-do’s” and then adding an extra 10% for “just in case” money. Because you never know what you may come across and it would be horrible for you to a) not do/buy/experience it because you didn’t plan accordingly or b)drive yourself into a ton of credit card debt just to have a vacation financial hangover on the back end.
- Take your trip and unplug. No really, unplug. Totally. From email. From phone. From social media. From FaceTiming with your relatives. Unplug from it all. And focus on each other. Talk. Laugh. Plan. Dream. And soak it all in. I think this is why we have loved international travel and cruising over the years. It’s so much easier to unplug and disconnect from all the noise.
- Finally, while you travel don’t rush. Enjoy the company. Look around and feel all the grace and gratitude that led you to this moment. Breathe it in. Our best family moments have been watching our daughter chase birds in the Plaza in Barcelona. She laughed for hours. We enjoyed ice cream and relaxed and watched her play. Our best moment as a couple traveling has always been slowly walking home and window shopping at the end of the night. “We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharial Nehru
So where will you plan on going next and who are you wanting to reconnect with? Can I help?
Until next time, happy wanderlusting my friends.