There was a time not so long ago when one of my global travel goals was to visit all the countries that begin with the letter M. That’s admittedly pretty random, as far as bucket-list goals go, but I had a good start on some of the more obscure nations on the list, having visited Mauritius, the Maldives and Malaysia within a few years of each other.
One European itinerary could take in Monaco, Macedonia, Montenegro and Moldova, with a side trip to Malta and Morocco. Sure, Mali, Mauritania and Malawi would have posed a challenge (at least two are on U.S. government travel warning lists), but I figured I’d get there eventually.
Then came a wedding, a kid, and then a couple more, all in fairly short order.
Now, that quixotic urge to be a 13th-letter travel completist has been filed away with other midlife aspirations that shall remain unnamed. And I’m fine with that, because I love being a father. Who wants to go to Mongolia, anyway?
As a travel writer and editor for luxury magazines, I became used to the ease of taking last-minute trips when I was alone in life.
Now, when we travel as a family of five, we have much more to worry about.
Should we pay to check the kids’ car seats as luggage, or buy (and then later sell or return) new ones at our destination? Can we get past the automated online room reservation system that never seems to have space available when I select “two adults, three children” in the drop-down menu, even though we can all fit in a room with two queen beds? Will someone puke on the plane, and why did I forget to pack the wipes?
But mainly, it’s the cost that creates a travel conundrum for our growing family.
I subscribe to email alerts for budget airline fares. Just the other day there were flights to Barcelona for $375, round trip. I imagined taking the kids to Gaudi’s Park Güell and treating my wife to a Catalonian meal at Alkimia, Céleri or Els Quatre Gats.
Then I did the math. Our youngest is now 2, so she has to have a ticket — and who wants a temperamental toddler on their lap for a transatlantic trip, anyway? That’s five tickets to buy, plus expenses once we get there. The bottom line is we’ll have to save up before we travel to Spain.
The truth is that traveling on a whim this summer just hasn’t been practical, what with summer camps, work deadlines and school starting back up in late August.
You’ll likely find us taking occasional weekend road trips or vacationing in place rather than on…