This article, entitled "Traveling with Your Kids – In International Waters," comes from Kathy Bedford, MomsEveryday blogger from Northwest Florida.
It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime but had the potential to become a science experiment gone terribly wrong. I wasn’t certain what would happen when we decided to throw two siblings together into a windowless inside cabin on a cruise ship and tell them to get along. For 7 days. In the middle of the Mediterranean Sea.
Did I mention the siblings are polar opposites?
My husband and I debated back and forth for months whether or not to invite our college-age boys with us on our “trip of a lifetime.” Tim thought it should just be the two of us.
“We’re finally empty nesters!” he’d say.
“Yes, but this may be the last time we get to take our kids with us! And this trip will be like none we’ve ever taken.”
We both knew we may never get to Europe again! Have you looked at the cost of traveling overseas? I had – for about 15 years!! I remember dreaming about taking a Mediterranean cruise and traveling to exotic ports of call. “And we can do that for $8,000 a person!” I’d joke. It seemed so far out of reach.
Fortunately there are fabulous cruise deals out there for the discerning consumer…it took a good 15 years to find one but our persistence (and saving) finally paid off! What I loved about the idea of cruising to several countries at once was the fact that you could drop your suitcases in one spot (your cruise cabin) and not have to check in and out of several hotels (or bed and breakfasts) every other night of your extended vacation. As you know, it’s not like you travel overseas and stay for 3 days.
As the family vacation planner, the fact that someone else was “driving the ship”, that fabulous dining was available whenever our schedules desired, and all we had to do was enjoy ourselves, go to sleep having had a wonderful time, and wake up in a new country the next day were very enticing “details” that caused us to say, YES! Let’s cruise instead of traveling to these countries on our own.
As for who would go, I was fine with just having Tim and me share this fabulous adventure, but there was one thing nagging in the back of my mind. Our younger son Austin had saved for a potential overseas trip for months. Years actually. He hadn’t just saved some extra change from his purchases for this trip. He sacrificially saved again and again for the chance to go to Europe. To the point of impressing his Dad and me with his commitment to sacrifice today so he could enjoy something later in the future. Isn’t this what every parent tries to instill in their children? It was an example of delayed gratification at its finest.
He’d get money for his birthday and instead of going out and buying something for himself, he’d hand me the money and say, “Here Mom, put this in the Europe fund.”
Any spare change he had, he’d give to me. “Put this in the Europe fund.”
So given the opportunity and financial blessing we had experienced this year, the Bedford family signed on for the trip of a lifetime.
Both boys were more than happy to share an inside cabin on this trip. After all, who wouldn’t be happy to get the opportunity to visit Rome, Italy, Athens Greece and even venture into Turkey with a few stops in between?
Our first night we stayed in a Bed and Breakfast in Rome, Italy, wanting to avoid the big hotel chains and opt for experiencing the true European flavor. And experience the “flavor” we did when we realized our room included the famous “Bidet”. If you aren’t familiar with one, feel free to Google it. Talk about a cultural experience.
The flavor of European buildings and lifestyle cannot be captured without walking the narrow streets and taking in the architecture of structures that have withstood the tests of time, wars and earthquakes. Speaking of narrow streets, work to the wise: Never open your cab door if you are sitting on the right of a cab on a one-way street. Uh, because I unwittingly did, and almost got the door taken off our vehicle. THAT woke me up after our overseas, time zone changing flight. My apologies to the poor cab driver whose hear must have jumped out of his chest, along with my admiration for his quick thinking (and reflexes)!! I’ve no doubt that even if his lips didn’t say “stupid foreigner” under his breath, the look in his eyes did, and rightfully so. Like I said, word to the wise!!
The Coliseum is amazing and so was the bruschetta, pasta and and best-pizza-ever-made being served at the quaint sidewalk restaurant across the street. The thing that left the greatest impression on us was the pace of unhurried lifestyle throughout the city of Rome. Their meals aren’t just about sitting down, chowing down and going about your business. Rather, meals are about family, conversation, good food and good table wine. It’s more about enjoying the company you are with and taking time to relax. Being overseas enabled (or forced!) us to unplug from our texting, facebook, e mail, smart phone technology and truly have meaningful conversations and memory making moments. What more could a Mom ask for?
We spent the night in Rome and then boarded the cruise line the following morning. Our adventure had already begun but it was about to get a lot more interesting. But those stories will have to wait for my next blog. Until that time ... Ciao and Arrivederci!