Travels with Dad

Father’s day is coming up on Sunday and I’m fortunate to be able to celebrate both my wonderful husband and father of our two kids as well as my own amazing father. My husband is not only the World’s Most Patient Man, but he shares my dream of exploring the world as a family and expanding our horizons through travel. He supports even my most hare-brained travel ideas and never complains when I get us lost or book 5 am flights. He really is the perfect partner, both in travel and in life.

However, before I was a travelling mom, or a travelling wife, or even just a solo traveller, I was a travelling kid and I mostly have my dad to thank for that. My mom was always a bit of a reluctant traveller. Most of her family was in Saskatchewan, so she was okay with going there in summer, and she would sort of get into our summer vacations to California or Yellowstone Park or Vancouver Island, but I always got the impression that she would probably have been just as happy to stay at home.

My dad, on the other hand, loved to go exploring. It’s a bit funny in a way, since he’s always been a kind of quiet guy, maybe a bit boring even. To the best of my knowledge, his taste in food, music and clothes hasn’t changed significantly in the past 40 years. He still sports the same hairstyle he wore in his wedding photos and if it hadn’t worn out he would probably still be wearing the same suit. And yet, if you give him a map and a bit of free time, he’ll soon be looking for a new place to visit or a new route to explore.

So, in honour of my Dad on Father’s day, here are a few things I’m thankful for, little things that influenced me to develop a lifelong love of travel. Thank you Dad for:

Always taking the scenic route

My dad had a policy of never taking the same route twice. I can still remember the sigh my mother always made when we turned off the main road as my dad said, “Lets see what’s down this way.” We found many interesting backroads over the years and we always made it safely home.

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Always modelling curiosity

Long before there was the internet, there was the 1986 World Book Encyclopedia, two dozen or so majestic blue volumes that stood proudly on the shelf underneath our ancient television. Except that there was never a complete set on the shelves in our house; one or more of them was always out, because a question like, “Where is Armenia?” or “When were the Olympics in Tokyo?” or “How far north do vultures live?” had come up and needed to be answered right away. My dad modelled life long learning as a lifestyle and I hope to do the same for my kids.

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Making do with what we had

We didn’t grow up poor by any means, but we didn’t have a lot of extra money for fancy trips. The first flight that I can remember was when I was about 14 and I think we only stayed in hotels a handful of times before then. Overseas flights and fancy resorts were definitely not in the family budget. But what we could afford to do was camp. We camped our way to California and we camped our way to Newfoundland and we camped until I never wanted to see another pit toilet ever again. But it gave me survival skills that put me in good stead as a backpacker on a shoestring budget many years later!

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And finally…

Putting up with us

It’s only now that I have kids of my own that I can truly appreciate the patience it takes to make long distance trips with kids in the backseat. And he did it before the days of IPads and electronic devices. So thank you Dad (and Mom too of course), for all the hours of “Are we there yet?” and “He’s breathing on me!” and “It’s my turn to hold the map!” and many, many others. Travelling with kids is always an adventure and always an investment in their education. It’s also often exhausting, expensive and annoying. But my parents still did it and for that I am very grateful.

So here’s a shout out to all the travelling dads out there, past and present. We love you and we wouldn’t be the same without you!

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