You know the episode of Everybody Loves Raymond where Robert and Amy are getting married? Remember Ray’s speech about Editing? Yeah. Editing is a really important part of staying sane while traveling.
So what do I mean by that, you ask? I mean this. Something is going to go wrong on your trip. It might be a big, spectacular, catastrophic failure thing, and it might be a succession of small, mildly irritating, not-a-big-deal-by-themselves things. But whatever it is, it can ruin your trip if you let it.
Don’t let it. Travel with kids is a lot like Junior High, in that the one thing you desperately need, perspective, is the thing that’s hardest to come by. When you are sitting on the plane covered in someone else’s vomit, or by the side of the road with a gently smoking rental car, or in the emergency room dealing with a broken wrist, perspective can be hard to find.
So remember. You will laugh about this someday.
You really, really will.
Some of our best travel stories are the stories of what come to be known as The Incidents. Those ridiculous, frustrating, unbearable (it feels like) days that happen every trip and that almost make you proclaim that you are Never Leaving Your House Again.
Here’s a good example. Our trip to New Zealand, that I chronicled here for your amusement, sounds like everything went perfectly. It didn’t. And I didn’t do that on purpose, it’s just that I’ve gotten so adept at editing, I do it unconsciously. I wrote down the trip that I remembered. But here, as I think about it, are some things that also happened:
- I forgot to file our Australia visas before we left, so instead of spending our 5 hour layover exploring Melbourne, we spent it sleeping on the floor in the Air New Zealand lounge.
- Our first RV was making a scary noise, so we had to take it back and trade for another after 12 hours.
- The DVD player didn’t work.
- We accidentally changed the GPS to “demo mode” on day 5, resulting in us driving 90 minutes in the wrong direction, on crazy windy roads that made everyone throw up.
- Oh yeah. Everyone threw up. Repeatedly. Every day.*
- We got rained on. A lot.
- The door to the propane tank compartment broke, causing it to flap and bang wildly while on the freeway until duct-taped back together. Twice.
And yet, I still proclaim this trip to be Perfect. And it was. Because we have learned to take these things in our stride.
Every trip is going to have Incidents. So expect them, and you won’t be disappointed. Even better, learn to edit on the fly. Don’t wait to get home until you start to find this funny. Try and laugh about it now. Or at least don’t swear too loudly.
On this blog, I sometimes hesitate to talk about all the things that go wrong. (Even though it seems like that’s all I do.) Because if all you hear is a litany of things that can go wrong, I worry I might scare someone off of this kind of travel. And that would be a tragedy, because most of the best experiences, lessons and epiphanies I’ve had in life have been a result of my chance to see the world.
But I also don’t want people to think, heading to the airport, that every day of every trip is going to be golden. It isn’t. You’re going to lose a suitcase, forget your shoes, get food poisoning. And it’s still going to be a fantastic trip.
Just remember the editing.
* to be fair, someone throws up on pretty much every trip we take. Motion sickness, food allergies and International travel make a pretty volatile combination. Before editing, that is.