Here at Skysteward we like to say “How you travel says a lot about you.” Let me tell you about two women who helped me find first class travel on a shoestring budget.
Cynthia Harriman and Nan Jeffrey are two moms who gave me great advice and shaped my travel life. I feel like I know them, and their families, but – we have never met. They each wrote books that are so unique and useful that I want to share them with you.
Let me list some of the aspects of your trip that this book addresses: getting your kids out of school for an extended period of time (a biggie!). How to create a budget (another biggie). Ways to take care of your home – from arranging to pay bills, to leasing it out to doing a homestay trade. Once in Europe, Harriman promotes the idea of purchasing a vehicle to use during your stay, and she provides details on purchase and sales. She provides unique sightseeing ideas, ones that are of special appeal to children and teens and which I have not seen in other travel guides. There are many practical suggestions from how to help kids adapt quickly to their new home-away-from-home, how to keep teenagers engaged in the trip, to preparing picky eaters for culture shocks — like the pizzas in Italy that come with clams AND shell on top.
As you might expect, this book does not cover how to dine out at 5-star restaurants. Adventuring with Children is about life lived close to the ground, living “like a local” during your stay. Nan provides excellent advice on choosing tents, gear and clothing; safety; activities while traveling and when settled in a location for a few weeks. She shares her own packing lists, and they are short. Nan explains how to make do with less. One of the most invaluable reads is her personal stories of medical and laundry needs. Any traveler can use these. And anyone traveling with an infant will find Nan’s advice about diapering while traveling valuable.
Although Nan is the one you want to consult if you are planning to spend a few months sailing with a toddler in tow, her advice will be of great value even for a few days trip to a tame location.
The longest trip I have ever taken with my children was a one month trip across Europe with one of my daughters when she was 8 years old. We had train passes, and went from England to France, Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland. We carried a tent – one that Nan Jeffrey recommended – although we did not need to use it often: I discovered when traveling with children people are extra caring. For instance, in Switzerland we were preparing to set up our tent when the camp owner handed me keys to a hostel building that he had just closed for the winter season. Inside were two floors of heated rooms with beds, bathrooms and showers. He charged me the same price as our tent site. I discovered he had a gruff persona, but I surmise his grandfatherly heart was touched by seeing my daughter preparing to tent camp in the rainy chill in the shadow of the Alps.
The advice I garnered from Cynthia and Nan made my travels doable on a tight budget. I successfully signed my daughter out of public school and took her education on the road. (A few years later, from 5th – 11th grades, we moved completely from public school to homeschool, and part of our decision was based on the success and freedom we experienced during our European journey. And a big part was due to knowing successful a successful homeschooling mom likes Nan.) I can attest that traveling is a great education for kids. There is nothing like learning geography first-hand. Meeting people in other countries, learning languages, understanding differences – these are only some of the valuable lessons gleaned while on the road.
Whether you are taking your kids for two weeks to Europe this summer, or planning to pull up stakes and live the vagabond life for a long stretch, these books will be wonderful reads. I predict Cynthia and Nan will become your inspiration and friends, as they have been mine.
After Margery posted her blog, we started exchanging emails; now I'm looking forward to taking our new-old collaboration to the next level, by joining her to do a radio podcast next week. What fun!