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TRAVEL TENSIONS: THERE ARE TWO SIDES TO EVERY FAMILY VACATION. Volume 1: France – Long Rides and Lavender Fields

- Callie

MOM RECALLS A CONTESTED TRIP:

When I was a child, I loved to travel with my family.  The trips I took to Italy with my parents and grandparents have become cherished memories.  I looked forward to taking my children to Europe when they were old enough so I could expose them to a foreign culture and share the pleasures of European travel with them.  My husband and I agreed that our twentieth wedding anniversary would be an extra special reason to go.  So for our twentieth wedding anniversary, when my daughter was almost 15 and my son was 12, we ventured to France.

I chose France because we have family there, including cousins with whom my kids are very close.  These cousins come to America almost every year, and it was time for them to acquaint us with their life in France.  The trip was planned so that we’d spend a little time at the beginning and the end in their city, Lyon.  I made sure that we avoided museums and cathedrals, attractions to which my kids have expressed aversion.

Instead, during our first week we: toured the Gorges du Tarn, a deep, narrow, beautiful river canyon where we stayed in a castle and spent time navigating the river in kayaks; explored Carcassonne, Europe’s largest preserved medieval fortress town; and spent time at the lovely Mediterranean seaside town of Collioure. The second week we were joined by one of the French cousins and stayed in a gite (a rented cottage for tourists) in Provence. We spent our days visiting villages and their markets, hiking, kayaking and swimming, and our nights playing cards and watching movies.

I had a very memorable time and am glad that we went.  Unfortunately, my children were unmoved, and other than expressing that it was nice to see their cousins, I heard little positive feedback.  It has caused me to seriously re-evaluate any future trips to Europe with them.

THE DAUGHTER’S OPINION:

Hi mom.

I think you’ve misunderstood my issues with the France trip. I had a lot of fun, but there were some things that just weren’t things I liked. (Which is fine, not everything is about me having fun.)

What I enjoyed the most was staying at the gite in Provence for a week and everything we did there. We went to restaurants, a flea market, our cousin Tristan (and a new fan of teentraveltalk.com) was there, we played cards, watched movies, went swimming, canoed down a river, ate ice cream advertised by Eva Longoria, and had a whole cottage to ourselves.

What wasn’t that fun for me and my brother: visiting way too many villages, spending more time than necessary in medival Carcassonne, time spent lounging around, hours and hours and hours of driving, going to fields of lavender. These are things I consider boring. (Though I must admit the car rides were funny. The problem was they were so long.)

My biggest issue: 16 days, Mom. 16 days. And all the time we spent driving from one region to another added together was probably equal to 5 days. As much as I like to travel, I don’t like being away from home for more than a week. 16 days was too much for me.

Although this wasn’t my ideal type of vacation, I still had a lot of fun and we got a lot of family memories out of it.

MOM’S POSSIBLE RESOLUTION:

Well I am really glad to hear that there were some parts of our France sojourn that you liked.  That vacation, however, confirmed that Europe is not the optimum type of trip for our family.  As a result, afterwards your Dad and I took a trip there on our own.  But I have not totally given up on the idea of our family returning to Europe — especially Italy.  While I am not ready to concede that two weeks is too long for a European vacation, I do agree that we did too much driving in France.  (It’s hard to resist the urge to see as much as you can when you are in Europe if you don’t get there too often.)

Taking your feelings into consideration, if we do go to Italy, it may be best to rent a villa with family or friends.  This would eliminate a lot of driving and include the camaraderie you enjoyed at the gite.  If there were people remaining at the villa, you could pick the side trips you would like to accompany Dad and me on and which ones you’d rather skip.  If the villa is in walking distance to a town or village, you and the other kids could do some exploring on your own.

Check out other bloggers who share their “Travel Tensions” below:

Erik and his mom in Vermont

Caroline and her dad in Chicago

Tyler and his dad in Quebec

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