We’re picky about who joins us as we travel. After all, we have things we want to see and our own routines. We require enthusiasm and openness, ability to walk (and then walk a little more), and good company. Twelve years ago we hatched a plan for the ultimate travel companions. Why not take our future grandchildren on a big trip – the kind of trip their parents may not take them on and one they’ll remember for years to come?
Eleven years ago each of our daughters had their first child, and we promised them we’d take those babies on a trip when the time was right.
As our grandchildren have been growing up, we watched for signs that they were ready. Have they developed the qualities required to be great travel companions? And then we realized: that time is now.
In preparation for The Trip, we gave them each a questionnaire to assess what they were interested in and where those interests coincided. The great outdoors or inside museums? A foreign destination or somewhere nearby? How would they feel about trying a new cuisine? Based on the survey, we presented them with four itineraries that suited their interests.
There was no quick decision. After many months of pondering and research they got together and made their decision: they chose the 10-day trip to the Netherlands.
Two days after school let out, we headed for the San Francisco airport with our new travel companions, Ainsley and Luke.
That first day confirmed for us that our new traveling companions didn’t share many of our interests. Visit an old church? NOT interested, was their response. We were relieved and heartened to discover a common interest in food and the experience of cosmopolitan dining. We tried French, Dutch, Indonesian, Indian, Middle Eastern, Italian, and Asian cuisines for our dinners.
Ainsley’s favorite outing was our visit to the Rijksmuseum.
Not only did our traveling companions not necessarily share our interests, but also they differed from each other. Luke was anxious to pursue basketball and bicycling opportunities.
His dream to ride a bicycle in the Netherlands may not have been exactly what he was expecting. To be continued in “The Humiliating Ride.”
Clearly there was more to figure out about traveling companionably with 11-year olds.