Eben has been away a touch over a month now, but we have a return flight for him! He lands back in Cabo on the 23rd. Just a couple more weeks! Until then the girls and I will keep on doing what we have been doing. A little bit of everything.
I get lovely messages from some of you guys sending me “virtual high fives” on how I am constantly doing fun things with the girls. THANK YOU. However, let me tell you, part of it is me being selfish. If our girls get bored they tend to turn on one another and start fighting. To avoid being a referee or getting angry, I opt to keep them busy instead. Not by being “Mama the Entertainer”, but by going out and playing tourists in our own town.
The simple act of getting out of the house is often enough to keep the girls from attacking each other. But it’s always a little more fun if we actually have something planned to do. So I plan for “travel”.
Travel isn’t something that has to be done in faraway places. People think that travel is about getting on flights, going to places with foreign languages, that have different customs, exotic food, and a different climate.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. It doesn’t have to be that far, or expensive, or different.
To me, travel is simply going somewhere new. It’s a new experience. It’s something different from sitting on my couch listening to the girls bicker.
It can be done in a new country. Or it can be done a street over from ours. With the right mindset, anywhere can be a travel destination.
There’s something fun about playing tourist in your own area; learning about the fun things your area has to offer, and realizing that there’s always more to discover.
If you think about it, most likely you have met someone visiting the area you live in. So there must be something worth seeing! Look at your town through “tourist goggles”. What is it that you would want to visit if you were vacationing there? Now go do it!
Here are some things that I do to help with seeing our town through the eyes of a tourist.
Side note: I am not oblivious to the fact that we actually have lived in several tourist destinations, but I use these same ideas for when we are back in Canada, in cities that we have spent several years living in. And I also realize that within this post I am showing pictures of us traveling all around the world, but that just goes to show that every town has something to go discover (I usually seek out the free things, because I’m cheap!)
Learn the History, Visit the Sites and Monuments, Visit New Areas of Your City
Your town didn’t just pop up out of nowhere. There’s a story behind it. And it could be a pretty interesting one. Take the time to learn a little bit about your city.
If your kids are younger and not interested in a full-on history lesson, like ours, then make it fun. You can turn it into a scavenger hunt. Have some interesting facts about each location/monument, have the kids find them, and once they have found them, throw in some quick history facts about it to make it fun + educational. “Did you know…”
If you live in a larger city then you probably have the benefit of having multiple cultural neighborhoods within your city. Go to Chinatown, go to Little Italy, go to the Latin District, and so on and so on. Immerse yourself in the cultural experience of your own city!
Use Social Media pages, parent groups, and newsletters to hear about local events
One of the huge bonuses of living in a social-media-connected world is that there are tons of ways of finding out what’s going on.
In travel destinations and in my hometown, I join the Facebook page for the area, find any online parents’ groups and join those. And I sign up for local newsletters. You should see my current Facebook feed and email inbox, they’re littered with info about events going on in every country that we have visited because I haven’t bothered to leave those groups once we leave the country!
In any case, those pages and groups often have info on any fun events coming up that you may want to check out.
You can also join the Facebook pages for local attractions like museums, community centers, movie theatres, and restaurants, to sometimes find out about discounted days, and happy hours when you can go visit these places without spending a fortune.
I make a point of going to as many of the town events as possible. Most of the time they are free and super fun. And if they’re not, well, at least it was something different to try!
Enjoy the Outdoors
What do we do the most when we travel? Enjoy the outdoors. We don’t travel to sit in a hotel room! We walk around.
Do what you would do it you were on vacation. Take a slow stroll through town. People watch (I love to people watch). Go to the beach. Take a hike. Bring some food and picnic in the park. Ride a bike around town. Take public transit and purposely get lost.
Even changing up the activities that you do at a specific spot can make it feel totally different. Picnicking on the beach feels completely different to a day of boogie boarding, or an afternoon of sand play. Sit in a different spot at the park. Make a snowman rather than a snowball fight or snow angels. CHANGE IT UP and it will feel new.
Find Kid-Friendly Spots
Everything about finding the right spot where the girls can play without bothering anyone and I can sit back and enjoy feels like a vacation!
Finding kid-friendly spots is KEY for your travel to feel stress-free. My kids need room to be creative, or crazy, or loud, or busy. And I don’t want to do that where I feel like my little people are being annoying to others. I love restaurants with play parks. Bars with pools. Libraries with quiet play areas. I’ve even brought the girls’ to Chapters (bookstore) before, just so we could spend a couple of hours looking at the books and toys in their kids’ section.
If none of those are convenient, revert to just getting outdoors. Let them run around and burn off some energy. Let them be crazy while you take a few moments to relax.
We don’t eat out a ton, but when we do we try to make it somewhere different each time. There are a bunch of different restaurants and food options in our town, so trying out a new restaurant is always fun. Of course, we have our regular kid-friendly spots that we return to out of comfort, but that makes it so when we go somewhere new it feels extra special.
Be adventurous and eat from a food cart/street food. Often those serve cultural favorites and are way cheaper than a sit-down restaurant. You get to travel via your taste buds and you get to learn more about yourself in the process. Things I’ve discovered I like and dislike: fried grasshoppers are actually tasty, and pig cheek tacos are not my favorite.
Don’t Expect Every Event To Be Amazing!
Don’t give up if something you go out and experience is a flop. It happens. Even while traveling to new countries, sometimes you discover that a certain activity is not for you, that the hike was too long, that the festivities weren’t as cool as you had expected, or that your kids really weren’t “feeling it”. It happens. It’s all part of the experience and makes for a funny story afterward. And you now know for next time.
I try to approach every location we are in with “new” eyes, no matter how many times we have been there, or how long we will be staying there. It makes everything more fun.
Keep on exploring and traveling. Keep on keeping on.