Bitten by the Bug and Ignoring the Itch

In Peanut, Tolkien, Travel on December 20, 2010 at 7:11 pm

Ours was not a particularly wealthy family growing up, but one of the many gifts my wonderful parents gave us was the gift of travel.  As a kid, you are not (or at least I was not) necessarily always able to appreciate the horizon-expanding qualities of traveling overseas and being separated from one’s ready supply of, say, Skippy peanut butter or flushing toilets.  But I realize now that having had those experiences when I was young taught me, a) the inequalities of our planet, and just how blessed I really am, and b) how to adjust my expectations and freely enjoy traveling around the world.

Tolkien and I have had amazing trips to varied places, including London, Paris, Belgium, Ghana, India, Jamaica, Canada, Spain and more.  We’re lucky that we turned out to be great travel buddies because we both like exactly the same ratio of sightseeing to R&R: heavy on the sightseeing, with a dash of R&R.  (I was once describing a trip we took to Hawaii to an acquaintance, who asked, “Oh, did you do one of those travel adventure packages?”  Um, no, that was our own thrown-together itinerary.  No, we didn’t sleep, and yes, we’re crazy.)  But our wishlist of travel destinations far exceeds our checklist of places already seen, and I don’t think that’s going to change in the next couple of years.

There’s the obvious obstacle of Tolkien’s insane schedule.  And then there’s the question of Peanut, and when is too soon or too late to introduce her to globe-trotting.  As the child of immigrants, I know countless families who toted their infants along on multi-leg, intercontinental flights because, well, that’s the only way they’d get to see their loved ones.  To them, it was hardly a big deal, just a way of life.  To my fatigued and, admittedly, probably spoiled self, I just cannot see tackling that until said child is toilet-trained and able to entertain herself for more than eight seconds.  (Really, just thinking about it makes me want to curl up and take a nap.)  So far, we have only taken Peanut on one plane trip, and it was domestic, and there were two of us to baby-wrangle.  Still, I sprouted many more grey hairs to show for it.  My hat goes off to those of you out there who travel alone, and with more than one kid — you should unzip that jacket and show off your Superman logo sometime.

But Tolkien and I both feel that we want our child(ren) to be well-traveled, to have an appreciation for other cultures, and to have a strong sense of gratitude for what they have.  And if you don’t start relatively early, I fear it may be more difficult to get kids to adapt to more humble conditions than what they may already be used to.  True?  Not true?  I’m not sure.

In any case, we’re not going anywhere too far-flung for awhile, at least.  And having been bitten long ago by the travel bug, I’m used to satiating it with a trip for a few months, and then planning another once the itch builds up again.  I’ve been pretending I don’t hear the call of the big, interesting world out there because I can’t answer it right now, but having recently seen Eat Pray Love (a movie that was otherwise preposterous … seriously, could that woman have been more navel-gazingly annoying?) all I can think about is some nice Florentine crostini.  And steaming paella with hot chocolate so thick you could stand a spoon in it in Madrid.  And searching out handmade truffles in Montreal.  And chicken curry and gulab jamun in Cochin.  (Yes, most of my travel revolves around food, why do you ask?)

Scene from a well-fed day in Europe

And now to go eat a bowl of Cheerios for lunch.

(And to all of you …. a very merry Christmas and a happy 2011! )

  1. A few thoughts:

    1. I am in the same place, except sans a Peanut of my own. I can’t wait until I’ve accumulated enough vacation time to go abroad again. It’s looking like I’ll be headed back to SE Asia, unless you want to ditch Peanut and Tolkien and make a trip to Europe with me (and why on earth would you want to do that, since your family is awesome?). I would say that my passport is taunting me with its uselessness, but I think my passport is hidden away in a drawer in my bedroom, so its ability to taunt is limited (plus it’s an inanimate object and all).

    2. Your blog’s layout is so much nicer than mine! Yours looks like a bona fide newspaper, that people would want to read; mine looks like vomit.

    3. Sorry this is so long. I miss you! And, just because your blog is still relatively new, let me say I’m so delighted you’ve joined the blogosphere!

    • A few thoughts in return:
      1. You are welcome to come partake in Peanut time whenever you want. Everyone needs some Peanut time. And do not tempt me to join you on a trip to Europe. The result will be a Much-less household in which diapers are not changed and groceries are not purchased, and Tolkien would be perturbed. To say nothing of the Peanutty wrath that would be incurred.
      2. Your blog is fantastic. I’m inspired by your commitment.
      3. We miss you too, so you need to visit.

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