Treating America Like A Foreign Country

  As our vacation in America came to a close, D and I began reflecting on how the trip had gone and what we would do differently and we both felt that we'd pushed too hard on this trip.  We'd expected too much from the kids and too much from ourselves.  We thought that since we'd both lived in America and because it's our native culture, that we could just roll right back into it without any real culture shock, and because it would be familiar to us, we could help the kids navigate it.  We were so wrong.  There were so many new challenges that we didn't really anticipate and our biggest conclusion is that we have to treat America like we would treat any other foreign country and keep things as simple as possible.

1: Shorter is better.  We were gone for almost 6 weeks and that was way too much.  All children thrive on routine and Sky was out of hers for too long (and to tell the truth, so were D and I).  Our next trip back to the states will probably be about 3 weeks.
2:  Pick a place and stay there.  We went from Kwaj to Honolulu to Kansas to Omaha to Iowa to Minnesota to Wisconsin to Minnesota to Kansas to Honolulu to Majuro and then back to Kwaj.  Too many to's!  Next time, we're going to have two bases, probably one near D's family and one near mine.  We'll have to tell our families that we've come 4,000 miles and that they're going to have to come the rest of the way to us.
3:  Move in.  Things went best on this trip when we lived someplace- when we could unpack our suitcases and feel at home and we're going to focus on doing that next time.  Places that actually were homes, or had a homey feel were the best for the kids.  They had room to run and play and D and I weren't stepping on or around them all the time.  If you can't stay with family or rent a house, than opt for a bigger hotel room.  You're going to want to be able to open the bathroom door without blocking the shower and to open dresser drawers without backing into the beds.  It'll cost more but it will be worth it.  At the end of a long day, you'll appreciate the space as well, since you'll have the room to put your feet up and decompress from your day.
4:  Don't drive when you can fly.  For us, the cost of the tickets and the hassle of security outweigh the freedom of driving.  Sky and Fire are used to flying and D and I are used to handling them on airplanes.  Car seats and long drives are brand new battlefields for us (and on this trip, there were some definite battles!) and that just added to the stress.   This goes hand in hand with #2: if you're going to be in two places for the whole trip, you remove a lot of actual travel.
5:  Avoid winter.  We did it this time because we wanted Sky and Fire to see snow and to be able to spend Christmas with our families, but we're not going to do that again any time soon.  Don't laugh, but there are just too many clothes!  We needed to buy the kids whole new wardrobes for this trip (thanks, Fairy Godmother!) and winter clothes take up a ton of space in luggage.  Just finding room for two adult winter coats and two kids snowsuits blew packing light out of the water.  Maybe we'll try it again when the kids are older and can pull thier own suitcases but for now, we're summertime travelers.

Related post: Thoughts on Traveling with a Two-Year-Old


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