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How parenthood has changed my expectations of travel

Matt Villano

Back in the olden days—before I became the patriarch of a family of four—travel was a lifestyle for my wife and me.

In any given month, we might drive to Carmel for the weekend from our house in San Francisco, sunbathe for a few weeks on the beach in Hawaii or hike the backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park.

It didn’t really matter that I write about travel for a living; our trips were transcendent and transformative. Between fraternizing with locals and exploring beyond the usual tourist bunk, we could get from humdrum to extraordinary in a matter of minutes. And we came to expect that from every journey we took.

Then we had kids.

With two little girls in the fold, many of our closest confidants just assumed our gallivanting days would end abruptly, with a thud.

Fellow parents said we’d never travel again. Family members mustered the same sort of (unsolicited, mind you) feedback, couching the scenario as some sort of weird, biology-mandated quid pro quo (“Guess you guys won’t be visiting Vegas again soon, but hey, you doubled-down on daughters!”).

In moments of weakness, my wife (whom I’ll call “Powerwoman,” or PW, in these pages) and I started to wonder ourselves: To what extent would parenthood change the way we travel?

Our answer: Not very much at all.

Just because we’re now parents, because our solar system now revolves around these two little loves, doesn’t mean the world as we once knew it has to end. When we want to escape to Carmel, laze on the beach in Maui or tromp in the wilderness—hell, when we want to pick up and drive 100 miles for a tongue taco or something random like that—now we just bring the girls.

Our older daughter, whom I’ll call “L,” already has logged more than 75,000 frequent flier miles, and has visited five states and two countries. Our younger one, whom I’ll call “R,” got her passport in February—just before her five-month birthday—and will get her first stamp in two weeks.

Granted, hitting the proverbial road can, at times, be challenging with two pint-sized humans in tow. And sometimes the only takeaways are lessons learned (note to self from a recent journey: long road trips and potty training aren’t the best fit).

Most of the time, however, traveling with our daughters is the ultimate superlative—everything is more colorful, wonderful and exciting because we all are seeing it for the first time: Powerwoman and I through their eyes; the girls, for real.

In the end, regardless of whether our girls remember these trips (which is another subject for another post), they undoubtedly will grow up with an innate understanding of Mom and Dad’s love for experiencing new people, places and things. Hopefully, someday, they’ll share this passion as well. If not, at least they will have learned about the world along the way.

And that’s why I’m writing.

My goal with this blog is to chronicle the adventure of traveling as a unit, and provide perspective on how to do it without forgetting the way you travel best. I’ll tell stories from my family’s life on the road. I’ll share tips, secrets and pet peeves from fellow parents, fellow travelers and industry pros. When appropriate, I even might weigh in on current-event issues that pertain to families away from home.

Of course the key to this whole endeavor is you. If I write something that moves you, please talk back, Tweet about it and share it with friends. If you think I’m a total jerk, self-absorbed wahoo, or any other nightmare in between, let me know. The more of a conversation this becomes, the better it will be for everyone involved. See you soon.

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