51 days. I added up all our vacations since last summer began, and it comes out to 51 days. 51 glorious, what-will-we-uncover, I-can't-believe-I'm-here, where-did-I-pack-that days away from home. The kids attend a school with a mostly typical schedule. We've never had them skip a day just so we could go somewhere. Hubby has a regular desk job. He doesn't telecommute or get summers off and is expected to physically show up at his workplace. So what gives? We've been bitten by the Travel Bug.
|July 2011 - Cleaning up Paradise Cove in Malibu, California|
Travel has suddenly become a top priority. Before our big move overseas, we usually did a two week summer vacation somewhere fun and then visited family in Houston for the Big 3 of Holidays —Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. We may or may not have taken advantage of a long weekend to drive somewhere. But now that we're in Asia for a couple of years, we're flying around like crazy trying to take in the sights. There's so much to see before our time is up! Spending a long weekend at home feels like throwing away a chance to see another piece of the world.
|August 2011 - Penang, Malaysia was a former British colony.|
It's not just me. My expat friends have been bitten by the Travel Bug, too. We gathered for breakfast after the kids went back to school in January and went around the table saying where we'd been during Winter Break. Melbourne and Australia's Great Ocean Road, Koh Lipe in Thailand, Hong Kong (by 3 separate families), Park City Utah, Langkawi, Bali, Western Australia, Singapore, Bangkok and Cambodia all came up. I wondered aloud, "Can you imagine what we'd be saying if we were still in Austin?" Most of us probably would have just stayed somewhere in Texas. Now, we're sprinting around the world at a breakneck speed, eager to travel as much as possible before returning back to our home in the States.
|October 2011 - Relaxing in Singapore with Clarke Quay in the background|
These friends provide me with inspiration and motivation. We ply each other for tips on destinations. One couple took what sounded like a magical boat trip on Vietnam's Halong Bay. I was intrigued but wrote it off as something too hard to pull off with kids. Then, another friend with two preschoolers vacationed there. She came back with everyone she left with, too! So the wheels in my mind start turning. If they can do it, maybe I can also.
|November 2011 - Climbing the steps up Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia|
Even if we don't go anywhere, we can sightsee around Penang, the tropical island we're currently calling home. I've been here for almost a year, and there is still so much to discover.
|December 2011 - Disneyland Hong Kong|
BTW, my boy on the left is imitating the spilled honey pot.
The generally cheap airfare and hotels around Southeast Asia have been helpful. Although with trips to expensive places like Singapore and Japan under our belt, I'm not sure if we're really skimping that much. As one friend put it, "Normally, we'd save up and plan for a year before going to Australia." But when the opportunity to travel to Oz from Malaysia presented itself, she jumped at it on the spur of the moment. Carpe diem! Seize the Day!
|December 2011 - Children's Museum of Houston (Texas)|
Will my family keep up this momentum when we return to Texas? I don't know. I was all aflutter picking a trip to do over a long weekend in May. Cambodia? The Philippines? Thailand? Langkawi? Where did I want to go? I finally settled on Borneo. When I'm back in Austin, would the five of us fly off to Denver, St. Louis, or New Orleans for a long weekend? Maybe. Would I do all three places in the span of one semester? Probably not. The urgency would be gone, and these cities are not quite as exotic as the ones currently on the radar.
|April 2012 - Cherry Blossoms in Kyoto, Japan|
Plus, we're in a golden stage of traveling with kids right now. They no longer need all that gear like diapers and strollers, and they can remember and be influenced by where we visit. They don't mind hanging around with us all the time. Two years from now, my oldest child will start high school. I can see our weekends being taken over with marching band and sports. The kids will start exerting their independence from us or even — gasp — get a part-time job. They won't be able to go away with us on a quick trip quite so easily. (I am admittedly looking forward to the "traveling with adult children" stage when I expect my younger son to include me in his big plans to always fly first class and order room service.)
|May 2012 - Blowpipes in Borneo|
We're in sprinting mode right now. Eight more trips are in the pipeline for 2012. We may not have the endurance to keep it up long term. In the meantime, we'll keep rolling along, see where our adventures take us, and cherish every moment.
This post is part of Friday Daydreamin' at R We There Yet Mom?