Normally when we travel, I am almost never ready to come home at the end of the trip. I generally dread returning and have even gone through a little bout of depression after returning. This time was different. I was ready.
If you enjoy this, here are some other more reflective pieces about the nature of travel.
- Do You Want Your Travel Experience from an Eye Dropper or a Bucket?
- 6 Things that I Miss Most About Traveling
- Driving in France: How I Overcame My Fear of Driving in a Foreign Land
When you travel as frequently as we do, you will eventually have to cope with the fact that not every destination can be our very favorite. There are going to be trips that don’t necessarily work well. This was one of those trips.
None of it had anything to do with the destination. Northern Spain was beautiful and really epic. It was a combination of other factors that trickled together as the trip went on.
It started out with a standby travel SANFU that involved scrambling to completely rearrange the beginning of our trip to start in a different city. A flight that had been wide open for weeks suddenly had no seats. We might not have worried so much, but another standby there told me that the same thing had happened the day before. That was my signal. We might be sitting there for days if we didn’t come up with another plan. Standby travel is mostly a big blessing, but it requires patience and flexibility.
Once we finally arrived (taking a completely different route than we had intended), maybe we were a little too far off the beaten path. For me, this is a hard thing to admit. I am THAT adventurous traveler that is always taking the kiddos to places that lots of folks haven’t even heard of.
This time we were visiting a place that was pretty far from the path and in addition, we were visiting in the low season. I did not adequately anticipate how much more difficult this would make our trip as many things had limited hours or were only open on certain days.
The sheer number of things that just didn’t work during the trip left me feeling a little down in the midst of it all. Places were closed for weather. Attractions had limited days and hours. It made planning really difficult.
I was really having a spoiled traveler moment. I had to pull myself out of my funk and just learn to be in THAT moment, not in the moment of whatever disappointment we had just experienced.
I was in a place that many folks will never get to see, with my family and I was not at home or at work. The kids are generally happy wherever we are so long as the adults are happy. Things could have definitely been a lot worse.
I am sheepish to admit this, at the risk of coming off as a snotty American tourist, but the language barrier was also significant on this trip. I am the chief linguist in the family. I am the one that figures out how to communicate whatever needs to be communicated wherever we happen to be. I tried to cram in as much Spanish as I could before we left, so I knew the basics and a little more, but there were many times where my skills were just inadequate.
While everyone we met was really gracious and helpful in figuring out what I was trying to say, being the only person the the group to order in restaurants or fumble with asking for directions with no English to back me up got exhausting after a while in a way that I had not anticipated. I was so happy when we crossed back into France where my language skills are more substantial.
On top of this all, I got a cold at the beginning of the trip. The kids got a little bit of it, but somehow they both passed it on to me but multiplied by bunches. The severity varied throughout the trip. Sometimes it was nothing more than an exhausting annoyance. Towards the middle of the trip, it almost knocked me out and I thought I had strep throat.
I had never realized before I got so sick and run down during this trip how much I naturally buffer any crabbiness or stress that gets experienced by anyone in our family while traveling. When someone is having a bad day or getting stressed out, I try to calm and soothe the situation before it affects anyone else in the group.
I think that this is something that I naturally do as a mother. I do it and I don’t even think about it anymore. When I was not able to do this because I was needing to take care of myself more, everyone in the family gradually got cranky with each other and it really started to affect our enjoyment of the place that we were visiting.
Thanks for listening to me vent. Have you ever had a trip that just did not live up to your expectations? I look back on this trip with fond memories. We did have some amazing moments together as a family and got to see some really neat places, but it just felt like it was more difficult than normal.