Four years ago, my wife and I became parents. To twins. Double whammy. Yes, yes, I know the pleasures of parenthood can’t be overstated, the joy unconfined and so on and so forth. But nor can the whammy-ness. Parenthood demands an overnight re-adjustment in your relationships towards almost everything, from sleep to work to socialising.
And of course to travel. In the early months and years, a simple trip to the supermarket requires military planning and saintly patience. Further down the track, the travel challenges change but are no less diminished, whether they involve persuading a ten-year-old to try the local cuisine or navigating the mood swings of an adolescent. They can chuck a bucket of cold water over any burning spirit of wanderlust.
But – because there are two sides to every dime, euro or dirham – those very challenges can also forge moments and memories around which you’ll coalesce as a family for years to come. And that’s what this book is all about. Some of the tales here are of family adventure, whether that features sleeping in the Jordanian desert, crossing the Gambia River in an overladen canoe, or getting profoundly lost on a Scottish mountain. Others relate voyages of parental learning that shine a light on what exploration means to a toddler or teenager. Then there are stories of disaster narrowly avoided: a lost child, a jet-ski accident, a jeep stuck deep in South African sand.
We ran a competition – promoted jointly with our friends at BritMums and Our Tribe Travels – to find stories worthy of inclusion in this anthology. Some writers are seeing their work in print for the first time, while other tales that we have chosen to include were penned by professional writers. The contributors come from a range of backgrounds and tell of many different types of trip.
But they also share certain convictions: that parenthood doesn’t mean abandoning those itinerant instincts; that, with the right attitude, even the most intrepid travel is possible with your family; and that the experiences of travel in childhood can shape personalities and inspire lives. Ultimately, whatever pitfalls they have encountered on the road, the contributors to this book know that travel is a portal to some of the most precious times that families can spend together.
Adrian Phillips is the Managing Director of Bradt Travel Guides, an award-winning travel writer and an exhausted parent.