And while living in Spain is wonderful in regards to sunshine, culture, food, and people-to-burro ratio, it is more difficult to get to the rest of Europe from here, than from say, Germany. Because, really, we’re closer to Africa than Dublin. We lack things like cheap trains, and multiple airports. To complicate matters more, most of Europe wants to come to us….meaning expensive return flights.
But let me repeat: lots of burros.
With that in mind, I present a highly unoriginal list of things I have learned from traveling.
1. Channel your inner Elsa.
Let it go. Let it all go. We recently traveled to Belgium, and in the first six hours of our travel we: lost a bag full of prescription medicine and really fantastic mascara, missed our bus stop and spent an additional two hours traveling, and I possibly broke my big toe when reassembling a sleeper sofa.
Let it go. Don’t spend anymore time than necessary thinking about it. Move on. Really. If you let the hiccups of travel get to you, you’ll tarnish the gift. Just don’t.
2. Surprise Yourself
As a family of four, things add up. So, when we were deciding on our location, we found a time when the kids had a long weekend, and consulted RyanAir. This low-cost European airline told us that we would be going to Belgium.
I wanted to go to Prague. Or Florence. Or Scotland. The prices told me to find a new city. And Ghent, with its canals, and cobblestones, cheese shops and bicycles, stole my heart.
3. Travel with Somebody Smarter Than You
My husband is like Russel Crowe in A Beautiful Mind when it comes to public transportation. The pathways connect in front of him, and we effortlessly move from one place to another. In Paris, we walked in circles, up and down staircases, through tunnels and between markets, following him like pilgrims, trusting in his eerie capability.
4. Get an Apartment
Airbnb has made our experiences transcendent. We walked downstairs and had fresh doughnuts in Rome. Lit the candles on a tree in Austria. Listened to people cheer the Germans to World Cup victory in Paris. And drank coffee as we listened to the bells of the Belfry of Ghent, melodic and strong.
5. Do what you want
Don’t go to art museums if you don’t want to. Find the places where people congregate. People-watch. Start conversations in bars and coffee shops. Find the parks where the children play. Get lost on purpose. Take public transportation. Have no regrets.
6. It’s moments
Travel is my eight year old falling asleep in my arms, his deep breaths and closed eyes the same as in infancy. It’s playing word games in a restaurant, watching the brothers laughing together, alone in their connection. It’s watching my youngest as he walked, unable to help himself as he skips and hops. It’s wonder. It’s forever. It’s priceless.