Wednesday, September 21, 2011

On Organizing Travels - 1

So, here I am, organizing the next travel.
We'll be in Grenoble, France, and I'll have to explain my daughter that on the map the Mediterranean looks much closer than it actually is.
I hate that I didn't learn enough French to order more than a "baguette, not too dark" at the bakery or a "pain avec buerre et jambon", but I'll rely a lot on my communication skills (read: fantasy) and on maps to find my way around.

In fact, I have been to France before.
Part of my mother's family lives south of Paris , where I was three times, and I was touring France some ten years ago. Without kids.

I have been traveling with kids, too. Which, put together, should just work fine.

Still, I know, every travel brings some anxiety and stress. 
If organizing a travel means putting a lot of to-dos on a list, traveling with kids means transforming the heavy labor into a family fun.

I have been writing before about flying from Europe to the US  and from the US to Japan with the kids.
But I think I haven't talked much about organizing a whole travel.

This time, like back when we traveled to Japan in 2009, we are accompanying my husband to a conference.
In most cases, there is something called "social program" for families or spouses. I took part to this social program once in Korea and it was - except for the very tight schedule - very well organized and fun: I had a great times with interesting people, I got to know some of them well and was taken wherever without having to decide myself what to see in a Country I had never visited before.
The same kind of program is not an option with kids (because their times won't always fit the schedule) and in places I trust I can handle fine by myself.

But, because those who organize the social program have a better idea on what to see in their own city/Country, I take a few guidelines from the program and skip things like restaurants, after lunch activities or cooking classes.

This gives me and the kids longer times to enjoy places we might find interesting and a better chance to rest, if it is necessary.

Conference travels mean that - during the conference at least - we will be staying in a hotel.
I won't discuss about different kind of hotels now, but having a bed and a shower is luxury when you have kids. 
I remember arriving in Knoxville,TN  24 hours after departure (we were stuck in Washington D.C. for a short night interrupted by the fire alarm...) and we couldn't check in, because we were "too early" to have our room.

We will be using public transportation, but I am also considering renting a bike because - despite the mountainous surroundings - Grenoble is a flat city.
Prices are reasonable and Carlotta can ride a bike. If the weather is good, why not?

to be continued...