We have been travelling by campervan for a few months now – in France, Spain, Portugal, the UAE, and Thailand (the campervan stayed in Europe). We have met other travelling families whilst on the road, and have joined internet groups where we can exchange tips and thoughts and ideas.
It seems that most families, when they leave on long term travel, experience varied emotions, as do their family and friends. Support, disapproval, anger, exhilaration, a lack of understanding, a complete understanding. Some families are very vocal and against “unconventional” travel plans, some are quietly resentful, some are happy. We are lucky that it’s mostly been positive.
We know only too well that time flies and our fledglings will fly the nest soon enough. We want to see their faces as they experience some of the things we have already experienced as young adults, before they take off on adventures of their own. Doing something second time round is extra special if you can do it with your kids. We have watched the opening of their minds to new and challenging things and that is something we would never exchange.
Not long ago they were small (but curious)…..
And now they are growing up.
As parents Neil and I agree that the potential to learn on a trip such as this is hard to beat. There are many ways to learn about life and to equip yourself for the adult world – this is just one, and it is the one which fits our family.
There is a third more personal reason we want to see the world right now.
The day back in 1992 when I found out that life is most definitely finite wasn’t a particularly good day of itself. But even the not so good days, one day, will make the good days seem all the better. Only later do all the weird and unconnected things come together, and never in the way we expect them to connect.
10 THINGS WE HAVE LEARNT SO FAR……
1. We have learnt that living and travelling in a small box on wheels means you have to be more tolerant of other people. It makes me happy to see the kids getting on. In between the minor squabbles over excess and unfair cereal consumption, smelly pants in the wrong place and the dishes rota.
2. Red flecky bits in Thai food make your eyes bleed.
3. Katie loves animals even more than we thought and dislikes maths even more than we thought. It’s not a girl thing, it’s a Katie thing. Working out fractions of food so that each animal gets a fair share is the way to go.
4. Elephants are amazing creatures and need our protection if we want our grandchildren to see them too.
5. I have learnt that reduced expectations in a campervan are making my cooking skills look quite good these days. But that street food in Thailand is better.
6. We heard that airlines add an anti-diuretic (anti-wee) powder to airline food to stop too many visits to the loo on long haul flights. I don’t know if that’s true but after 22000km and 32 hours in the air, I haven’t once seen the inside of a toilet plane.
7. Never panic about travel arrangements. I thought I’d have to beat the 4 minute mile to get from platform 1 to 140 in 2 minutes. There are only 4 platforms at this station.
8. We are not a religious family but we know a lot more about other peoples’ religious beliefs than we did before we set off. And on other beliefs, we now know that only last night the tooth fairy travelled over continents; but that Santa doesn’t visit the Middle East.
9. We have learnt that getting lost is no bad thing especially if you don’t mind where you are going.
10. We have learnt that the best bits come when you step outside your comfort zone. It’s nice to feel safe but it can be inhibiting too.
It’s not directly related to the comfort zone point, but there’s a big hole in the toilet floor on the trains in Thailand that small children could easy disappear down never to be seen again*. People jump on and off trains whilst they’re moving.
We have signs on heaters which say “Do not touch. May be hot.” Or other dumb warnings.
* Despite an extensive internet search there were no known deaths recorded as a result of falling down the hole in a train toilet last year, worldwide.
And I doubt anyone will in 2014 either.