In two and a half weeks, I am flying down to Ecuador by myself with Jack. Yes... you read that correctly, I. Am. Taking. A. Baby. To. South. America. By. Myself. Once we arrive in Quito, we will meet up with my husband (who is doing work in Peru) and some friends who live there and their brand new baby girl. When I tell people this their jaws drop. “You're flying on an airplane with Jack by yourself for over 6 hours? You're taking a baby to a third world country?!” Their faces usually crumple to a mixture of pity, fear and incredulity.
I didn't grow up like this; my parents' idea of adventure was throwing my sister and me in their station-wagon with a pile of Madlibs and driving all the way to the exotic beaches of Destin, Florida. My love of travel began in college when I was abroad and steadily came to fruition after I met my partner-in-crime and travel, my husband Matt. Over the years, Matt and I have become travel junkies. We've biked around Holland, hiked through the Dolomites in Northern Italy, missed trains in Spain among many other adventures. Like so many of you, I longingly stare at maps. I flip through my passport over and over, reminiscing about the trips I've taken, and the places I still want to go.
I assure you, I am not Superwoman. I am just your average sleep-deprived mom. And I have a confession to make: I am very nervous to go to a place I've never been, especially with my child. But in the end, despite any trepidation, my inherent sense of wanderlust won out. Travel is so important to me that I'm not willing to allow it to fall by the wayside just because I am a parent. Nor do I want Jack not get a chance to experience travel in his own life. I know that if we don't go now, then when? Next year he'll be entering his terrible twos, and the year after he'll be in preschool. There will always be an excuse not to go. In life, there are always really good excuses to stay where you are and not change anything.
Next weekend, I will get a crash-course (no pun intended...really!) in flying solo with Jack when I go to Atlanta to visit my sister. And in just over two weeks time, I will showing Jack's weird baby passport to the customs people in Quito and we will be officially on our South American adventure. As they are roughly the same size, Quito and Louisville are sister cities. Hopefully once there, my family will be greeted with the same warmth, hospitality and local culture that we have here in our own backyard.
I can't wait to give you all updates on our trip with some tips on traveling with children that I pick up along the way. How will the airplane ride with little Jack go? Will we adjust well to Quito's altitude (which by the way is almost double that of Denver)? I'm not sure. Living life to its fullest is often about uncertainty. Over the next couple weeks, I will prepare for this trip with all of you. So, join me. Because whether you go to Ecuador or E-town, it's important to take your children on a journey to the places you love.
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Photo: flickr: Philip Bouchard