September 19, 2011

entitled or enriched?

We recently returned from a short holiday in Nova Scotia. Our first real trip as a family. Hudson's first foray into travel. When I boarded the plane with Hudson for that first time, it was with the assumption that this would be the first of many trips in his future. However, shortly upon our return, I read a blog post by a friend that made me pause and think about Hudson's future as a world traveller.

The post, mostly written as a conclusion to the Pecore family's three week adventure in Peru, raised the question of whether taking kids on such trips leaves them more entitled than enriched. Despite the almost obvious nature of the question, it's not something I had considered. Not at all. In fact, I had always just thought about how fortunate Hudson will be to globe trot with his mama and daddy.

You see, Des and I are very much travellers. We've already been to London, France, Italy, British Columbia (Kelowna + Vancouver), Ontario (Niagara-on-the-Lake + Toronto), Nova Scotia, New York, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Hershey (yes where the chocolate is made) and Washington, DC. And that's just together. Individually we've also toured San Diego, Los Angeles, Africa, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ireland, Scotland and an assortment of other Canadian cities. And there's still a long list of places we want to see. Even before Hudson was here, it was just a given any baby of ours would travel too. We would show him the world.

1/ Cheesy Tour Bus Photo in Washington, DC    2/ Times Square NYC    3/ Atop Gros Morne, NL   
4/Sipping a Sam Adams in Boston, MA    5/ On Safari in Zambia, Africa   
6/  In the Bean in Chicago, IL    7/ Savoring the moment outside Momocho in Cleveland, OH   
8/ Wine Tasting in Kelowna, BC     9/ By the vines at Stratus in Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON
But is showing him the world the same as giving him the world? I hadn't for a moment thought about it from that view, though I can see how it could be. I can see how whisking him off to foreign countries on every other family vacation could spoil him. Yes, he could come to assume he will forever travel the world on our dime, that travel means five star hotels and fancy restaurants, that the world is his own precious oyster. But having him see the world from that lens was never our intention. That's just not how we roll.

Nope. We don't work the five-star hotel circuit (except for our time in Rome and ahhh, was that ever niiiiice). Our criteria for accommodations are clean, decent location and have our own washroom. And that last one can go if absolutely necessary. So it's often a standard hotel or good B&B for us.We figure we just need somewhere to lay our heads, we don't spend our days there (except for that time in Rome, but that wasn't nice at all). And so far, aside from one incident with a cockroach that I'll spare you the details on for now, we've had great luck with our budget accommodations.
We also don't eat at fancy restaurants every night. Sure, when we were just two on the trot, there was always a good splurge or two on any trip - such as Bar Amercain in NYC - but more often than not it's a diner, drive-in or dive that has come highly recommended or a spot that seems to be crowded with locals. And not surprisingly, it's usually in these places that we have the best meal. To wit, Momocho in Cleveland where we enjoyed the best Mexican ever, equivalent service and just lingered the evening away over margaritas and wine. Or that Cuban diner in SoHo that I can't remember the name of that served up the best breakfast with a Cuban bevvy on the side - a mojito for breakfast? Yes please! Or Thaipoon in Washington, which was so packed with locals when we walked by earlier in the evening, we knew it would be great Vietnamese and we were not disappointed. Or perhaps best of all, the peaceful afternoon picnic by the Seine in Paris. You see, for us, it's as much the experience as the food and it doesn't have to be high falutin to be great.

We travel easy and relatively inexpensively. We save our pennies and plan our trip in advance. We spend those pennies and our limited time wisely. Our goal is to see the world, experience the culture, meet the people and leave every place just as we found it, taking little other than our memories with us when we go. And this of course is how we plan to teach Hudson to experience the world.

Like Gina, I believe that taking Hudson with us when we travel will ultimately strengthen his character. If we take care to show him how to respect the place and the people, to involve him in the travel decisions both before we go and once we're there, to let him see there is more to this world than his backyard, he will end up more enriched than entitled. Yes, Hudson will be a world traveller and it will be our job to show him that the world is not his oyster, rather that he is but one small fish in a big, big beautiful sea.

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