coming up: how not to travel

This is going to be the over-arching theme of some of my blog posts about our latest trip to one of my favorite places in the world: San Francisco. We had an amazing time, but really that was in spite of so much working against us:

Staying with friends who live/parent differently…
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I mean, it saves you money, it allows you to spend time and bond with your friends, and it’s an opportunity for your kids to understand that different households have different rules and expectations. It can be emotionally taxing, however, when you’re sharing so much space and time as a family with others who don’t share your lifestyle. This friend of mine is a Muslim, and Nepali… we stayed with her, her husband, her mother (staying with her from Nepal for 6 months) as well as her new baby and 2-year-old. There are random things you wouldn’t think would be difficult at first, but become moreso: no nakedness, not even for little kids. It is hard for me to see my daughter shamed for not having underwear on under her nightgown, even though it was not intended as shaming. Or not being able to wash my pajama pants in the washer machine because there was menstrual blood on them. I’ve already written about the struggle with her son, and certainly I was defensive of my kid and she of hers, not to mention how stressed she was trying to control his violent behavior.

Traveling around and sight-seeing with other parent/child groups…
You’d think this would be ideal but honestly, we’ve yet to find another family with young children who can either keep up or enjoy our schedule when we’re traveling. My daughter may be 3, but she can handle long car trips, buses and trains, airports for hours, and hours of hiking like no problem. She gets homesick, but at the end of the day she can sleep in any bed as long as I’m with her. She can stay at the beach all day, take long hikes through the woods, and play at playgrounds for hours. We like to really stay a while and enjoy a place, but our friends were always eager to leave after a short time. This was especially frustrating for us in San Francisco where M and I would’ve liked to spend the day in Muir Woods or at the beach, and wanted to hike for hours at Rock City at Mt. Diablo. In the end, we ended up borrowing a car and going back to do our thing without our friends so we could actually hike. My friend constantly tells me it’s “too hard” with little kids, but I guess for me it’s just enjoyable. A lot of moms say parenting is just easier at home, but I’ve always felt it’s the opposite. When I’m traveling I’m alive and free and happy, and parenting comes so much easier when I feel that way. I hope someday, before M is all grown up, we can find like-minded parent/child travelers. For now we just have to make do with random children at beaches and playgrounds and airports who share her adventurous nature and endurance for long travel.

Not having our own space
We didn’t even have our own bedroom. Again, huge money saver, but hard on me as an introvert and M who is constantly tormented by a violent two-year-old and who understandably gets homesick.

Traveling too fast…
We only had six days to get there and back. I like to pack a lot into a short time and M can totally keep up with me, but it would be totally awesome to not feel rushed and to be able to have “rest days” in between days at the beach, or woods, or whatever.

I really think it’s imperative for us to have a) a space of our own to retreat to, b) the ability to bring our own car or have our own transportation options so that we don’t have to leave places before we have enjoyed them fully, and c) MORE TIME in general, meaning not just 6 days off because that’s all I can manage to get off of work.

All in all I came away with even more love for Northern Cali, a desire to return for months instead of days, and a deepening desire to find “our people”, you know, the parents with small children who can keep up with us!

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Categories: single motherhood, travel

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