Happy New Year, friends! I'm back online after a big, fat Internet break. In fact, it was more than a break. It was the longest family trip I've ever taken — three weeks in India with my husband, kids, and parents.
My dad's side of the family lives in India, and this was my kids' first time meeting their aunts, uncles and cousins. It has been 14 years since I was last there, so in some ways it felt like I was meeting my family again, too.
If international travel with your family is on your radar, let me just say: DO IT. Save your pennies, handle the work and scheduling hassle, face down the anxiety, and just plan it even if it means traveling years from now.
I say this because the growth I witnessed in my children during those three weeks was mind-boggling. Something magical happens when one's environment changes completely, overnight. Struggles that seem entrenched at home are no longer relevant, and every assumption gets questioned.
My kids ate food they wouldn't touch at home. They handled boredom and discomfort with grace and patience. They carried on wide-ranging conversations with people whose lives are completely different than theirs.
With no access to their usual distractions (save the iPod at times), they embraced India's sensory onslaught. They crammed themselves into crowded temples, fume-filled auto rickshaws, and rickety overnight train cars. They caught glimpses of peoples' daily experiences they couldn't even imagine back at home. And they loved it.
At the end of it all, even the promise of familiar comforts wasn't enough to make them want to leave. How fabulous is that?
If you worry about your kids missing school, I'd argue that the education they'll get from time outside their usual bubble is worth months in the classroom. More, because it lends context to everything they're learning in school. It's worth the homework and attendance complications. My kids missed a week of school in addition to their two-week holiday breaks and yes, they have some catching up to do. But we gave their teachers plenty of notice and all were enthusiastically supportive.
I think this trip might represent a "before-and-after" moment for my kids. It does for me. I'm not sure how it will play out exactly, but things have definitely changed.
Once I'm over my jet lag I'll share more, including tips for international travel with kids. After this trip I'm feeling pretty evangelical about travel with kids, so I'd love to get a good conversation going!
What are your thoughts on international family travel? Any questions or topics you'd like to see discussed here?