Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Last Family Vacation (?) Part 1 - Where?

Hey kids, Dad is going on a business trip to New Zealand in February. “That’s not fair!” they cry in unison and a promise to take them next year is made, “if it is nice there”. Well, the South Island is very nice and so next fall the question is made, Hey Kids, you want to go to New Zealand for Christmas break? No way, Dad! We have to be home for Christmas.

This line of dialogue continued for 6 years from the time they were 10 and 12. I offered Costa Rica, Hawaii, even New Zealand again. How about anywhere? Nope. My conservative middle-class kids had more holiday values than me and said that time was to be spent at home.

So, when #1 child was preparing to graduate high school, I offered the perennial trip to anywhere as a grad present. “No, I don’t want to fly anywhere!”, the answer. How about driving anywhere? “No!” I concede the issue saving myself thousands of dollars and then force him and #2 to go to a my wife's and mine high school/neighborhood friends reunion in North Carolina. That seemed to cure the fear of flying bit, but, then I took lots of grief for “making” him and his sister travel from Mount Shasta, CA to hot, humid, Bryson City, NC.

So, when two years later, #2 says, “I want to go to Paris for my HS graduation”, I am delighted that someone wants to actually get out in the world. I don’t realize how much planning and work is actually involved in a overseas family trip until around 8 months ahead of departure time I start to look at what it will take for money, time away, and trip research time.

“Geez Honey, do we really have to spend 2 weeks in Paris?”, the negotiation starts. See, I am really more a small town kind of person and more than a week in a big, foreign, city conjures up visions of pushy people, diesel fumes, bad air, black snot, chlorinated water, expensive restaurants, scary parts of town you find by mistake, and the like. “But Dad, Paris is like the City of Love”, the 17 year old daughter sort of pleads, whines, and coos at once.

After much back and forth, we come up with a general plan. It goes something like this: 5 – 6 days in London; 4 – 5 days in Paris; and the balance of roughly 3 weeks going around France. Now, the blackboard has a little writing on it and some kind of action can take place. But, will it be fun? Read on......

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