I had been on numerous airplanes and helicopters in the first three years of my life. Around the whole world once. Carried up and down aisles by flight attendants. I had my first passport picture taken when I was a few days old. My Dad had to tickle my foot (or slap it?) to get me to open my eyes. So it never occurred to me to leave my own kids behind when traveling.
I remember bouncing on a trampoline in Hong Kong when I was three years old. I love seeing the pictures of myself, only a few months old being carried in a snuggly through Norway. Sure I don't remember that trip but it is nonetheless a part of my life experience and who I am. I can say I have been there.
I understand the need to get away as a couple at times, but for us it is enough to have our time when the kids go to Grandma and Grandpa's for an overnight. If I am going someplace exciting and new, I want my kids by my side (or on my back) to experience it with me.
When Hannah was three and showing signs of being a bright kid, I asked our family doctor what things he recommended. He gave two answers - pick her friends carefully and travel.
So we took the kids to England. Some people thought we were nutty. The kids loved every minute of it and talk about it frequently. Eli was only three then and he recalls his favorite moments from that trip without help. They each made a book about the trip, thanks to Grandma and we keep them on the sofa table so they can look through them.
We just got back from Washington DC. Before going we watched a movie with the kids about the monuments and memorials. Eli had picked the FDR as his favorite to visit and although the weather ended up getting in the way of getting to that one, he knows we can go back someday in the spring or summer to see it. They loved all the museums and got excited every time we took the metro - their favorite part was having their own ticket and putting it into the turnstiles.
Sure it was exhausting touring the city with three kids in tow while Jer was in conferences and lectures, but at the end of the day it was a shared experience that we will talk about for years to come.
I would not trade that for the world!