Some would call me an evangelist for family travel. While many aim to make their lives easy by traveling to places like Hawaii with their children, I do that plus go on crazy long trips around the world with them. My experience with family travel dates back to our 18 month around the world adventure in 2007 when my son was just 6 years old. It has continued through countless other trips with him and now my 4 year old daughter.
In fact, I just finished a month of travel with my wife and daughter. In addition to doing 4 of the 6 Disney resorts on my Disney around the world (Paris and Walt Disney World coming soon), we made our way through quite a few countries in Asia. This was Ellie’s first big trip and for the most part she passed.
Now, I am about to embark on a different type of family travel. That little boy we dragged around to over 50 countries is now grown up and we’re about to have an adventure of our own. My wife and daughter have now headed home and my son is on his way to meet me in Bangkok for the Songkran Festival.
We first visited Thailand in 2008 and that visit corresponded with the “Thai New Year” party. If you have never heard of Songkran, think of it as a water gun battle on steroids. Everywhere you go people will soak you with water and put some mysterious chemical paste all over your face. It is both miserable since you literally cannot stay dry and a ton of fun.
As a father and son back in 2008 we had a blast during Songkran. While I participated quite a lot, the joy was watching him have a blast. He thought it was the best thing ever and quickly learned to join in on the attacking. He thought us getting bombarded with water during tuk tuk rides or walks to our hotel was fantastic.
Now we will revisit this awesome festival, but it marks another interesting milestone in our lives. This will be the first big trip we have taken together as adults. As happens with kids as they develop (become teenagers), my son and I have had some insanely intense disagreements over the years.
As he aged and as I wisely became aware of how little control I have, I came to a realization. Our age difference means less and less over time. And in our situation the age difference isn’t large. I was only 18 years old when he was born and in fact he is now older than I was when he was born.
The truth is that the majority of our time on earth together (god willing) will be spent as adults. As peers if you will. Sure I am a bit older and more experienced, but we still probably have 40+ good years as peers. That far exceeds the time I spent as his authority figure.
To sum it up, I am heading back to Asia to experience a completely new type of family travel. Travel where I am not the authority figure or the boss, but just one of the two passengers in a father/son duo. Will he piss me off? Absolutely. Will I try to assert the authority I just said I don’t have? I’m sure. But in the end, we’ll be better people because of it.
Hopefully this will be the first of many of these types of trips to come.