We are "young" parents with young children. We don't make a lot of money. Our kids are loud and fight and pee their pants just like yours do. (yours do right?) But man oh man do we love traveling with them.
If you've ever traveled at all with children, gone to Grandma's or even done the "Time Travel" thing where you fly so far, you skip days, live the same day for like 37 hours, or land at your destination and day is night and night is day and "jet-lag" feels like way too small of a word to describe the level of tired you feel...and you plan to do it at all again, then keep reading.
The temptation with any trip is to get through the "getting there" part as fast as possible. Especially those long ones. Torture sometimes, isn't it? But don't do it! Ignore the urge! Travel will always make you tired whether you take a short road trip, cross state lines, or go farther. So why not kick that tortuous feeling where the sun don't shine and make the most of your "getting there?"
One of the ways we get to see more than what our budget truly allows is to take short side trips while we're actually traveling on "bigger" trips.
For instance, we bought tickets home for Thanksgiving. Our bank account didn't even see it coming. Poor thing. The cheapest route we could find was through Japan and then on to America. Stopwatch time that trip adds up to 44 hours from door to door. FORTY-FOUR hours y'all. Just traveling. (we'll discuss how much travel funk accumulates per child per hour on a trip like that next time, for now, it's enough you can't smell the photos)
We had never been to Japan, and it wasn't high on our must-see places. But if we have to stop there and sit at the airport for a couple hours, why not choose a longer layover and get out and see some of Japan?
Remember: "It only counts if you leave the airport!"
So that's what we did. We opted for a longer layover. 12 hours instead of 3. We've done this on a Germany stop too. (The WWII Axis Powers thing? Just a ko-ink-ee-dink.) Once we let NYC host us for 3 days on our way somewhere else.
When you make your stopover plans. Go easy on yourself. This won't make or break your trip, but it WILL be fun. Google some simple, nearby things you can go see and do in your stop. Since your time will be limited, research beforehand. Trains were the cheapest and easiest way to get to Narita. We opted against Tokyo because it would have cut into our time too much. Narita was maneuverable for us as we don't speak Japanese and would have our stroller and 3 small children to haul around. I wonder sometimes why there's even school anymore? The skills of reading and googling could get you pretty far.
Our google results brought us this list:
* A huge park with great Japanese architecture.
* A Japanese temple
* An "authentic" Japanese ramen noodle place.
* And even that many Japanese people eat "Bento" boxes from 7-11 as their standard lunches.
As much as I wanted to see Mt. Fugi. It would have to wait. We only had time for the above things, but the walk through Narita was LOADS better than even waiting 3 hours inside a boring airport. And now my kids can say they've been to Japan. JAPAN!
|I wonder how you say "Peek-a-boo!" in Japanese?|
|Suki: "Doesn't matter if we ask, she doesn't speak Japanese! Just do it Kokoro!"|
Kokoro: (picks up baby)
|THIS is better than fixing boredom in an airport. Though Isaiah did get one shoe soaked. (But we all saw that coming.)|
Traveling isn't only about your destination. Make the journey there memorable too! (and bring extra clothes in case of pee in the pants).