Who We Are
My wife and I and our two sons live in Sitges, Spain, just south of Barcelona, after having lived in Budapest, Hungary for the past 10 years. We are American, but have been living abroad in places as disparate geographically and culturally as Japan and Mexico since 1996. Both of our boys, now aged seven and three, were born in Hungary.
We travel a great deal, and have often mentioned how great it would be to have a website that was devoted not only to general tips about travelling with kids, but also offered details about particular destinations – what’s there for the kids to do, which restaurants are kid-friendly, does the local ski area have a fun park for children, is the beach suitable for toddlers, are there hotels or apartments with playrooms – all the little things that can make the difference between a harried holiday with your children and a great one.
We’ve also discussed how great it would be to be able to read about real-life experiences and find parenting advice that was less glossy and more gritty, that featured practical tips for parents like us, whose home sometimes looks less like Good Housekeeping and more like a fungal infection, and who feel that many of the mainstream parenting sites leave readers feeling like miscreant child-minders. Yes, it’s wonderful to know 16 Ways to Make Great Gifts out of Used Dental Floss, but it would be better to know two strategies for making your kid eat his goddamn peas.
Parenting and travel and where the two often meet. That’s the website we wanted. Well, this is that site.
A Bit of Background
My wife and I met in San Francisco while getting certified to teach English, had a whirlwind romance, and ended up (although I had intended to go back to Italy, where I had lived for two years) in Korea. A year in a small, conservative town in Podunk Korea was enough, and we headed back to spend the summer in my hometown in Maine, then off to Santa Barbara, CA, where she finished up a lapsed undergraduate degree.
That spring we married, and beat it south to Oaxaca, Mexico, a stunningly gorgeous colonial city where we taught for a year. Although we loved it there, a Mexican salary meant that we were continually dipping into our savings simply to pay our bills, so we scouted around for a more profitable locale.
Although slightly trepidatious after our less-than-stellar experience in Korea, we opted to go back to East Asia, this time to Japan. An excellent choice all around. The food, the convoluted culture that melded ingrained politeness and impassiveness with an underlying streak of sheer lunatic wackiness , the sea and mountains, the tranquil villages and silent forest shrines all wooed us so that by the end of two years there we were inexpressibly sad to leave.
But leave we did, to spend a year in Essex, England, where my wife picked up an MA in Human Rights. She soon got a temporary position to do a report for a Budapest-based organization on mental health institutions in Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Slovenia. I went along to take photographs for the project, which was to last four months. Ten years later, here we were still in Budapest, where my wife worked for a donor organization promoting human rights in the region, and I found a job teaching secondary school English Literature at a private British school.
Eight years ago, our first son was born in Hungary. By the time he was eight months old he had been to half a dozen different countries, and we found ourselves frequently navigating the murky, sometimes stormy waters of traveling with children. Two trips a year back to the US, one to each coast, holidays around Europe, and toting the little bugger along on occasional business trips meant that we had to learn the ins and outs on the road. It was mostly trial and error. Lots of error. Mining the internet didn’t always turn up gems of useful information, so we learned along the way.
By the time our second son was born we had a fairly good idea of what we were doing, and discovered that with a little planning and armed with reliable information, traveling with two young boys could be not only bearable but delightful. Most of the time.
Several years ago, coinciding with the birth of our youngest son, I left my school to devote myself full time to writing and editing. And daddying. When not writing during nap time I was usually knee-deep in diapers or hanging with the moms at the local playground. Or planning, packing for, and executing family trips. It might be a day-hike at the Danube bend, an overnighter to a local farm, or an extended holiday in Costa Rica, but each one requires varying degrees of forethought and preparation. How are we going to work nap times? Picnic lunch or restaurant? What’s the closest decent restaurant and when does it open? Spontaneity is great. I’m all for it. But when you have kids, the spontaneous only works if you’re prepared for it. You kids want to take off your clothes and run around in your underwear on a sunny riverside Sunday? Go for it! But if you didn’t slather that sunscreen on your kids before you left, everybody is going to get burned.
Well, I sincerely hope you find this website helpful in your travels. Get out there with your kids. Share the wide world with them. And when you get back, drop us a line about your trip. We love to hear our readers’ insights and comments.