Most adults thrive on a sense of consistency in daily life, but now as a parent, the value of a well-established family routine to me seems even more priceless. After spending countless amounts of energy and time in training kids, and then doing the happy dance for having a playing, eating, and sleeping schedule, few things in the world seem worth interrupting that sanity. AmIright?
Sometimes though, I feel that the trade-in for that daily comfort and peace of mind, means doing less of things that require a sense of adventure and spontaneity. Take for instance travel. In my experience, many parents I’ve come across, considered themselves world travelers until of course, their little human(s) arrived and made things less easy. When my husband and I had our first baby almost five years ago, we were so proud to say we traveled the same amount as before we became parents. Then we added #2, and more recently a #3, and our unshakable resolve to see the world with our kids seems to be on unsteady ground. And when it’s not their unpredictable temperament, it’s the luggage. After all, it only takes one beach trip to learn the amount of crap that needs to be packed when with kids.
But, I am so thankful that like magic, we very conveniently forget the not-so-good parts and somehow always find ourselves itching for a new family vacation near and far. It has also helped to redefine just what a vacation means to us these days; before, we traveled to relax, but now with kids, we travel to see and experience new things, and not necessarily to sleep-in, you know!
To the world, I have no doubt, our family of five looks like a circus when we travel. Sometimes we feel it too, like when we decided to hike 3-miles up a steep mountain with kids in carriers and a newly pregnant me, but then they surprise us by talking about it forever and asking when they can do it again!
Forgive this very long introduction to what I have been trying to say all along. Please travel with your kids. Whether it’s hopping in the car, train, or a plane, do it as much as time will allow. And even though it means a little less routine and perhaps a little more whining, in the end they learn to appreciate these experiences too. And like anything else, practice makes better.
In the series I am calling Traveling Circus, I want to share with you my stories of our frequent travels with our kids. In this very first installment, we visit the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. Read all about it, and please share your travel stories, nightmares, inspirations, and philosophies to keep all of us encourages to see this beautiful world first hand!
Destination: Blowing Rock, NC. A picturesque town in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains. Population just under 1300.
Travelers: Hubby, 4.5-year-old daughter, 2.5-year-old son, 7-month old son, and me!
Getting There: We drove in our mini-van from Raleigh. It took us just under 4-hours to complete the 195-mile journey.
The luggage: Usually I try to edit what we pack, but since we were driving in our mini-van with lots of space to spare, we basically over-packed. This trip was also interesting because we knew we were going to hike, swim in an indoor pool, and potentially try skiing or snow tubing. This basically translated to a lot of stuff.
Toys: I packed some coloring markers and paper. They each had an option to bring a cuddly. Most of the time they found toys wherever we were, or played with whatever they found around them. On the drive home, we stopped at a local toy store, called The Incredible Toy Co. It is one of the best toy stores I’ve been to and they each picked out a toy.
Where we stayed: Chetola Resort is famous in the area and has been featured on various travel shows. It sits on a beautiful property that also has the namesake lake. We had a single room with two double beds. It was spacious and had everything we needed. The breakfast in the Inn was wonderful! The heated indoor pool was a hit! The resort checks off all the boxes of things a family needs (you can rent strollers, have s’more nights, and no need to pack swim floaties for instance). It is a bit old though and has a very log cabin type of vibe.
Where we ate: Timberlake’s Restaurant, Blowing Rock Brewing Co., Camp Coffee Roasters, PROPER, My Pho, The Local Lion, Publix Grocery store
What we saw: The historic downtown in Blowing Rock is stretched over a few blocks that are easy to walk. Lined with lots of mom and pop stores, restaurants, antique stores, and boutiques, it also has the awesome Memorial Park with great play structures for kids, and a Museum. Short drive away is Boone which has the Appalachian State University. Like any college town, this one provides lots of activity and fun eats. About 30-minutes away is Grandfather Mountain which is a must-see if you are visiting the area. It has the swinging bridge, a zoo, and a nature museum on the property!
What we missed: Tweetsie railroad was closed for the season. We missed the annual polar plunge in Lake Chetola. We also skipped skiing since we stayed plenty busy with other activities. Many of the local eats that came recommended by others were closed for the season.
The highest of highs: Walking on the swinging bridge on Grandfather Mountain was definitely awesome! Our meal at PROPER in Boone was one of the best family eating experiences we’ve had.
The lowest of lows: On the second night there, all three kids kept waking up every few minutes for one reason or another. Either they all wanted to cuddle in the same bed, or that their tummies hurt, or whatever! It made for a rough night. But nothing that good coffee couldn’t fix the next day!