“Do you want to keep him?” That was the question I asked several of the adoring locals who were fawning over Jacob despite his poor behaviour and attitude. Of course I didn’t mean it…. but I sort of did.
Don’t get me wrong. Jacob is a great little traveller. In fact, I am really quite lucky to have such an easy going child. But the 3.5 year old Jacob of today, while still easy going, is far far less easy going than even just a slightly younger version of himself.
Little Jacob has travelled a lot. We backpacked across 12 countries before he turned one. But that was easy because he was immobile. We’ve jetted off to various island paradises. We’ve road tripped around Australia. We’ve cruised the rivers of Borneo. We’ve sailed the seas on board a variety of cruise ships. We’ve done a lot. And because of that, I don’t often adjust my travel style too terribly much with Jacob in mind.
Yeah, I’ll plan to visit more aquariums and parks than maybe I normally would. And yes, I now opt to stay in private rooms instead of dormitories. But other than a few minor adjustments, I still travel in pretty much the same way I always did.
Recently, my last few trips have been pretty laid back. In the last year I have been on two cruises. Both were large and spacious and had fantastic kids clubs. Cruising is perfect for families, and it’s easy to understand why. Pools, ice cream stands, kids clubs, and babysitters on hand at all hours. It doesn’t get easier than that. And Jacob was a dream on both of those trips… but of course he was.
Our latest trip was to the Philippines. This trip was a little less relaxing. In an effort to do and see as much as possible of this incredibly diverse island nation, we ended up taking 2 overnight buses, three internal flights, three ferries, and countless other forms of ground transportation. We only stayed in most hotels for one night only, with the exception of our four nights in Boracay. We were constantly on the move.
And despite all that, Jake did great. In fact, I probably did worse than him on some of the transport (good ole’ motion sickness), and on one particular turbulent flight, it was him who comforted me. But I could tell that the constant moving from place to place was taking a bit of a tole. He constantly asked when we were going back to Sydney. Or he would ask why we were leaving this hotel to go to a different hotel. He was edgier. He lost his temper easier. He was more defiant.
The constant moving took it’s tole on us as well. Having to always be checking schedules, maps, itineraries, and guidebooks made us all a little stressed and also gave us less time to play and be silly with Jake. This caused Jake to use the tried and true method to get our attention – whinging. This of course, did not improve our moods either.
The hotels we stayed at were pretty basic. And even the ones that did have facilities like pools ended up going to waste because we were only spending one night and had limited time.
He was snappy. We were snappy.
When we got to Boracay everything almost immediately changed. We were able to semi unpack. Our hotel had a pool. There were other kids staying there. We were staying for several nights. Jake was able to settle in. He was able to play in the pool. He was able to make friends. Yes, he still had tantrums, and yes I still got a bit stressed – but everything was just a little bit easier to deal with.
Instead of asking “when are we going back to Sydney?” he asked “can we live here Momma?” He was back to his normal self. And yes there were still tears – he is 3 and a half after all. But life was easier.
As much as I don’t want to admit it, the time has come for me to adjust my travel style. It’s time to slow down. It’s time to start choosing hotels with pools and family friendly facilities instead of just the cheapest one on offer. As Jake’s personality gets bigger and bigger I need to start adjusting for his wants and needs more than I did before. And it’s not a bad thing. I constantly exhaust myself by trying to do and experience everything, when sometimes the most memorable moments are those spent in quiet reflection. The happiest moments are not always when you cross something off a list, but when you catch yourself doing nothing but staring off at the horizon of a new and exiting place. When you slow down, you can experience those magic moments which make travel special.
It’s hard for me to slow down, but Jake is an opinionated toddler now, I’m gonna have to slow down whether I like it or not. (But I think I’ll like it.)