They haven’t worn shoes for a week. The oldest, eight-year old Lorenzo, cannon balls off the side of the boat. The middle child, Raphael, with his goggles, cautiously climbs down the ladder into the crystal blue Caribbean Sea.
The youngest, four-year old Fernando, comfortably clambers upstairs and plays with the GPS.
We will only sail this beautiful 45-foot catamaran for two weeks.
But during those two weeks, we re-learn to physically engage our surroundings, feel the wind in the sails and adjust accordingly, forget the closet, the outfits, the materiality of our lives. The children discover sea, land, and air animals. We catalogue them, research them, and summarize their attributes.
We read books about adventure and learn the history of far flung places and long lost times. Most importantly, for two weeks, we discover another culture with openness and gratefulness for their welcome. And eventually, my husband and I look at each other, after a day of trimming sails, tacking, choosing headings, and keeping our vessel safe, stating the obvious…
“We should do this for real.” What does that mean? Taking ourselves, and our three children, on a fifteen-month sail around. And before, or after that, taking the children on a year-long trip somewhere other than the city we’ve inhabited for fifteen years. Maybe make it longer, who knows.
We both travel, a lot. He grew up in Uruguay and Switzerland. I lived in an Italian expatriate family in France, attending school in Switzerland where we met. Then, in 2001, we moved to the United States. We’ve since traveled, as much as we can. Many tell us traveling is hard because of children or, worse, ill-advised because of children.
Make no mistake: traveling is always worth it, but it is so much more worth it, necessary even, because of children. Television and petty disputes slowly dissipate when they have to share a single cabin and there simply is no TV.
While other children get jarred by changes in schedule and meals, mine don’t care. Their sense of security comes from my presence and their father’s. They learn, firsthand, that as long as they are surrounded by love and family, everything else can be an adventure. How liberating is that!
Of course, some days are harder than others. I have a multitude of examples. The time my son, a toddler, in the middle of an interminable immigration process, looked me straight in the eye and announced, “BAM, I pooped!” Or the time one of my kids had a 30-minute screaming tantrum as we tried to walk off a ferry because he wanted more water (which I didn’t have).
Or when all our passports were stolen, and the resulting trip required 3 legs of 4 hours each, skipping through Latin America, with children falling asleep on every bench, step, and floor on the way. Some days, it’s tough. Some days, you tell yourself: to hell with it all. But those aren’t the moments you remember. Memory is a tricky little lady.
What I remember most is watching the boys run on a beach at 6:30 am, pre-breakfast, enjoying the cool sand between their toes. Or their red blissful faces, beaming, after a day of skiing in an absolutely awful blizzard. I can’t give them the world, although I wish I could. But I can show them as much of it as possible.
But how do we, a doctor and a lawyer, leave everything behind to start an international journey?
- I needed a start-up that could raise funds for this change of lifestyle. But which startup?
- I listed all the things I knew something about, that would feel purposeful, and would help others in the process.
Then it hit me. For years, I’ve traveled around the globe for work. I’ve observed other women doing the same. The one thing we all have in common?
Ridiculously impractical travel & work bags. Men walk into boarding areas and courtrooms with their perfectly designed briefcases.
So I set up Globetrotter Woman, a company specialising in designing and making available business and travel bags that are designed for women.