i am a skipper. who knew.

I finally have time to sit down and plan our trip to Italy. Favoloso, non?

Except that we leave in 5 days. 5 days. Not a lot of time to plan, as it turns out. I have been putting it off. Avoiding it even. 

The trip basics are covered. The kid that is not coming with us is happily tucked away at camp. The kennel is set for the dogs and house sitter is en route. We have aparthotels ready for us in Venice and Rome and even have had allergy cards translated for Alex, so no ouvo’s accidentally pass his lips while eating gelato ( yes, you have to watch for eggs in many flavours of gelato. Foreign countries with allergies is a topic for another day ). My camera choice has been made ( going small, Fuji X100 it is ).

Now the real challenge. 

How to plan for traveling with a 4 year old and a 17 year old, when you have thousands of years of unbelievable history at your disposal? 

We have always traveled with our kids. We have traveled with an infant across London and  Paris. We have traveled with several little kids at a time. We have traveled with a teen and tween and a toddler…but somehow, this time, the age spread between our boys, and the stages they are at, seems vast. 

I even reached out to author and mom of many extraordinaire, Kathy Buckworth, when she was on a recent local radio show, speaking about teens and traveling. When faced with my question, about how to plan for our days and our age spread, she did what most people do, kind of gave a muffled laugh. She then came up with the solution that i had been circling around for awhile – separate plans. Little did I know that accepting this as my solution would bring about a huge revelation about the traveling me…

I am a skipper of sights. Throw tradition out the window, I do believe I am willing to sacrifice Murano glass blowers for a happy walk along a canal. 

I do not feel an overwhelming need to plan my day around every monument, church, fountain and plaque. Saying this as i pack my bags ( okay, not really, i am still at the laundry stage ), to visit some of the most richly storied and romantic cities in the world, seems trite. My European experiences are not so diverse and schooled that I am dismissing the traditional tourist path as unimportant…I simply do not think we can maintain the pace of a schedule that would allow us to see “everything” in the amount of time we have. Well, not to the satisfaction that I feel we would need to say that we have truly experienced the depth of history we will soon be faced with. Or to the happiness of the family i am traveling with.

And because of this, in recognizing that we are working on a limited schedule and attention spans, and realizing that we will not be able to visit everything the guide books are encouraging me too, accepting that this is okay has made me feel wonderful about *not* seeing everything and giddy about what we will experience. 

Our oldest kid is a history nut. He is the one that chose Italy as our destination. He has been waiting his whole life to visit the Vatican. And he will, on his schedule, without his young, impatient, toy obsessed, historically ignorant brother dragging him by his sweaty hand through the Vatican Museums, giving no thought to looking up at the sistine chapel ( and saving everyone the exasperated mortification of four year old potty humour along the way ). 

The little man will be happily paddling around the lake, feeding ducks and dressing up at the Casina di raffaello at Villa Borghese park, picnicing. At four, he will be oblivious to the beauty in the art around him, but not to the beauty in the adventure that will surround him. 

Separate plans with the twin result of two happy boys at the end of the day. Not a traditional approach to the family vacation maybe, but the key to the success of this one I believe. 

My planning, or lack of, seems to now be focusing on food – that is always a good plan, right? We may not hit every place we *should* but who will complain on a stomach full of prosecco and spicy rice balls, on a warm evening in a piazzo surrounded by the noise of a European summertime, singing gondoliers and children playing soccer…it will be this idyllic, right? 

Oh! I am still taking recommendations for things to not miss…or maybe miss…or maybe miss something else for if you have any suggestions. My schedule is still pretty wide open, you know:). 

alex + jake on the road in 2010

their last “boys only” family trip in 2010. they are a little bigger now. 

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