Family Adventure Goals for 2012

What is it about the turning of the calendar that prompts us to get serious about planning for the future? Whatever it is, it’s pervasive. Even my dear spouse, not one for dreaming big, woke up one morning in early January not only receptive to a conversation about 2012 but actually taking the initiative to start talking about what we could do together as a family to make the year special. What’s more, he has a wish list, and it involves our first international trip as a family of four! We’ve come a long way.

Dreams start to take form when we begin talking about them.
I began talking with my husband about my strong desire to return to adventure traveling about a year and a half ago. I reminded him that this is how we spent our early years together before the kids. We reminisced about our trips tent-cabining in St. John, trekking in the Everest region of Nepal, cycling through southern Ireland, and honeymooning in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines. Oh, and there were two trips to Italy and a five-year anniversary trip to Hawaii. Children will change the kind of adventures we have but shouldn’t completely derail them. It’s time to start introducing them to the big world. Saying it out loud made it real.

The road less traveled need not be the road untraveled.
Once my dreams were given voice, one of the first things I did was to look for resources about adventure travel with kids. Surely I’m not the first parent of small children to have the desire to talk her kids off the beaten path. The first book I found, and one that continues to inspire me, is Nan Jeffrey’s book, Adventure Travel with Children. In it she describes the many types of adventure travel she did with her young children from the time they were in diapers until they were old enough to carry their own pack. I highly recommend it as an example of the possible. These days I continue to draw inspiration from a number of travel bloggers. The couples bloggers and solo travelers are interesting but I find it harder to imagine following in their path. While I read widely, I am most drawn to those who are doing long-term travel with children, for obvious reasons. I’ll create a list of these to share me of these days, or just check out who I follow on Twitter.

Dreams are good, but plans are better.
There comes a time when one needs to stop dreaming and start planning. Planning starts with a set of goals. I continue to nurture my long-term goal of a round-the-world (RTW) trip in five years. The shorter-term goals are a series of steps along that path.

And so, here are our family adventure goals for 2012:

Go camping at least 4 times this year
This may not seem very ambitious but it’s part of the plan to get the children accustomed to sleeping, eating, and living outside in simpler conditions. After years of business travel, I need some reacclimatizing myself. Fortunately, we’ve already begun implementing this part of the plan through our camping trips last year. Now that we live in a place with a more suitable climate and abundant campgrounds within two hours’ drive, this should be easy to do. Update: Two down, two to go. We’ve been to Shenandoah and Cedarville State Park then took a break during the summer heat.

Take one international trip in 2012
Driven by a desire to see far-flung family more often, Papa Bear has requested either Ireland or the Philippines. Very different choices! Since we’ve already been to Ireland once, I requested that our next trip involve either a visit to Dublin in addition to going to see family in Cork, or an add-on in Scotland. I’m especially interested in exploring Edinburgh, which I only saw from a car window during a half-day business trip, and am open to some of the wilder parts as well. The Philippines is especially ambitious, only because of the time it takes to get there. With limited vacation time, squeezing this one in might be hard. Update: we’re in Ireland now!

Explore one new site in our new hometown each month.
This one is easy. We just moved to Washington, DC and there’s so much to see and do here. Other people plan whole vacations in our city! We have the luxury of exploring it at our leisure. But because the sites will always be there we have to make a concerted effort to make it happen. It’s too easy to put things off in the bustle of everyday life. Remaining a tourist in your own home town gets harder and harder the longer you live somewhere. That’s why it’s a goal. Update: we’re having a great time exploring DC

All in all, I’d say we’re well on our way to achieving our 2012 goals. And we already have a trip to Italy prepared for 2013. Now if we could just plan a trip somewhere we haven’t already been. I’m thinking Costa Rica…

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