August in Paris sounds like the title of a delightful, romantic movie, but for Marion Winik, Paris wasn’t delightful or romantic. What it was, was stressful and chaotic because when you’re traveling with your entire family that’s usually the way things go for mom.
Thinking of heading out on your own family adventure? Marion has six things you should know before you go.
- The term “family travel” is an oxymoron.
What you see if you visit Chichen Itza with your children in tow is the same thing you see in Ocho Rios or Epcot Center: the exotic crushed relentlessly under the heel of the mundane.
- Think carefully before including your mother-in-law.
Though I have neither superpowers nor a signature form-fitting costume, I do have something in common with comic book heroes. I have a historic nemesis. Mine is a seventy-two-year-old Italian lady from Philadelphia.
- You need not accompany the children on every slide in the waterpark.
Jane spent the next three days imitating my pitiful scream as I went over the edge — less a woo-hoo! than the sort of plea for mercy once heard at the Spanish Inquisition.
- The Mayans cannot help you.
Day Six found me in a snit. I’d broken a fifty-five year ban on organized travel to travel to Peru with my daughter’s seventh grade class and I’d begun to remember why I might not like such a trip. I also remembered that I was not all that interested in ruins or the brutish ancient civilizations behind them.
- As your children will tell you, everything that goes wrong is your fault.
There is a reason these things happen to me and not other people, people who lock their doors and use fanny packs when abroad and don’t take their passports out of the hotel. My son Vince has kindly called it an “aura of vulnerability.”
- When you finally get away without them you are at a total loss.
I remember standing in the grocery store in Georgia befuddled. What did I like to eat? I had no idea. I was pretty sure it wasn’t Hot Pockets or sliced orange cheese.
One last thing before you go; add Marion’s collection of family travel essays, ‘August in Paris’ to your phone or tablet. Then, when you’re stuck in a two-hour line for that roller coaster that flips you upside down, you’ll have something to read. Misery does love company after all.