For anyone that’s never met my husband and I, we are opposite. Years ago when we were newly dating we wrote a list of the places we wanted to go in the world. A bucket list of sorts. There were a few similarities, but mostly opposite. This was confirmed a few years later when we were applying to go on that US show ‘The Amazing Race’. A couple of the questions were, ‘Where would you most like to go in the world’ and ‘Where would you least like to go in the world’. So I answered Alaska for most and he answered Alaska for least! Truly, we are opposite.
The Itinerary Man
My husband’s holidays are ‘intinerised’ and engineered to the hour. Meals are set before you depart and you know what you are doing every waking and sleeping moment! He likes reading guide books and knowing what there is to see and then running around and trying to see as much of that list as he can. He books dinners and creates lists of coffee shops (this one I am grateful for) and has a detailed plan of what is recommended.
My preference is to wander. I don’t need accommodation for the entirety of my holiday. The need to know what I am doing for lunch at breakfast and needing to have more plans than a day bag and a map will provide is not for me. I have spent numerous visits to Paris, strolling for days on end with no idea where I was at times and no care either! With kids, you can’t of course always be this reckless and you may need to return to the hotel for daytime sleeps.
Now we have kids that are opposite too. One active. One less so. One brave. One cautious. One can sit still. One cannot. One fussy eater. One eats everything. One likes salt water whilst the other likes pools. I have one son who likes the sun whilst the other likes the indoors. We have one that sleeps in the day and one that doesn’t. How then do we spend holidays together and all get what we want.
Well, like all good relationships, there is respect and understanding of others’ needs. I don’t like that word ‘compromise’. To me it sounds like someone has to forgo their wishes and desires to allow someone else to achieve theirs. As I deeply love my husband and adore my children, their happiness is of upmost importance to me. I will always do things for them.
Suffering painful transport and irritating queues for their happiness is all part of the job. I have found lost luggage. I have created meals at airports for little ones when flights are delayed. All of this is for their happiness. Compassion is something that needs to be practiced daily by all of us. What better place than on holidays to test this practice.
My husband gets to organise an outing and no-one can interfere or be involved in the planning. My son (the 8 year old and not the 2 year old) is provided with information and is allowed to choose the destination and an adventure is created from here through negotiation and approval. No questions asked. I create a day. My time tends to have a little more relaxed approach and less military precision. No interference allowed.
Sometimes I completely surprise them with the destination or what we are doing. The 2 year old is not forgotten, he is happiest if he can run and swim. ‘I schwimm’…his desires are usually most easily met at the hotel (a bath or a hotel hallway will usually suffice)! When we are on a shorter trip our activities are often reduced to half days or hours. As long as everyone gets a voice in some way, it is much easier.
As our family is relatively small – there are only 3 people who can decide where to go. We have taken it in turns in the past to choose a destination. We have mixed mother/son desires together. Living in Australia makes travel restricted due to our location in the world in comparison to other countries. We do travel within our country extensively. Australia is the size of Europe and the United States. There is a lot to see.
In my opinion travel is learning. Sometimes you learn from the guidebook. Sometimes you learn from the people. You won’t learn at all if you are not open to discovery and adventure. You need to let go of fixed ideas and go with the flow. Sometimes you need to have a fixed plan. A mix of planned and unplanned satisfies not only different personalities but different parts of your brain. Push yourself to try life as your opposite. You may not enjoy every minute of it but it will make you grow.