Around the World in 17 Days


I love to travel. I got the travel bug when I was a child and can pinpoint the year to 1988 when it hit me. That year I was lucky to go on a ski trip to Colorado and my first trip to Israel. Since then I have traveled around the world, to far off places, from London and Paris to Hong Kong and Auckland. When I had children I hoped to pass on this love of travel to them, and clearly my daughter, Julia, has caught the bug.

World travel is a privilege, one I take seriously. Yes, one could say we live in a “global village” today. With technology, we can travel anywhere with the click of a button. Video messaging brings families and friends together from all over the world. But there is nothing like seeing the place for yourself.

My son traveled to Israel on his first trip at just 17 days old (I will admit, that may be a bit young and don’t recommend it).  Before he was one, Matthew had visited cities such as Jerusalem, Miami, Seattle and Honolulu. Still in single digits, Julia has covered the trifecta of Europe, including London, Paris and Rome. By age two Nessa had crossed into the southern hemisphere, covered Canada’s two coasts in British Columbia and Nova Scotia and had two trips to Israel under her belt. Never in my wildest dreams as a child could I have achieved that. Giving my children the gift of travel is something I hold sacred.

My husband’s family live in and travel to all corners of the world. Every continent (yes, even Antarctica!) has been visited by at least one member of his family. I don’t think that we can tick off every country across the world, but I’d say that David’s extended family has covered a lot of territory. Some members of my family are no slouches either, in particular my father who used to travel to the Orient for work at least three times each year.

But back to Julia. She has the bug. She has dreams to visit places in the world that most children don’t even know exist. One of her friends went on safari in Africa a couple of years ago and Julia wants to do that. China is a country that fascinates her. And New Zealand too. Wait, she’s been there. But why not go again?!

I had to track her flight over the over Pacific Ocean to NZ.

When I tell people that my eight-year-old daughter just happened to be in New Zealand with her grandmother during her recent school break, the general reaction is, what? Are you crazy? I guess it’s a similar reaction to me telling people that I am a huge Carolina Hurricanes fan! Yes, Julia and her grandmother just returned home from a two-week holiday in New Zealand.

And no, it’s not random.

First of all, as I already stated, Julia has the travel bug. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the minute she returned home from her first trip to New Zealand, in January 2017, that she wanted to go back. We didn’t close our eyes and randomly select a spot on the globe. David’s brother and family moved there a few years ago. There’s nothing better than combining travel with spending time with family.

Just swinging around
Supposedly when it’s not raining there are great views from Mt. Rangitoto.
Travel isn’t always doing big things. Hanging with her cousins, and yes I didn’t know which one was my daughter.
They are obsessed with Trixie, the cat.

So, Julia wanted to go back to New Zealand, to see her cousins and enjoy the beauty that is this fabulous country. And her grandmother, who also has the travel bug (my one-week trip to Hong Kong in 2014 with Barbara and my sister-in-law Trudy is one of the best trips I have ever taken), saw to it that Julia would return to New Zealand.

Shouldn’t every airport have a welcome statue like this?

Hence the title of today’s blog post, Around the World in 17 Days. No, I did not specifically send them hallway around the world for 17 days. It just worked out that way. But the title sounds good, don’t you think?  About 19 hours of flying, plus a layover in San Francisco, and boom it’s just a short trip from Toronto to Auckland!

Jet lag.

Julia had the time of her life. She spent every waking moment with her eight-year-old cousin (and their cat, Trixie). I think the only person she missed was her little sister. My daughter was born for travel. She guided her grandmother with great confidence around the Toronto, San Francisco and Auckland airports, stayed basically clean and tidy and enthusiastically participated in most activities during her 17-day trip. And she did it all with her grandmother. How lucky can you be?!

A day on the water with her cousin.
Up the Sky Tower they went.
Strike a pose! Ready for the Passover Seder!
Ice cream with a view. That’s Mt. Rangitoto in the distance.

Upon landing in Toronto a few days ago, after their almost 24-hour journey home, Julia looked at her grandmother and said, “I want to go back to New Zealand right now.” And I am sure if she could have, she would have jumped on the next plane and returned there. I am sure that wasn’t her last trip to New Zealand. She has the whole world to explore, and I am sure she will check off many places in the coming years.

If you are that far south, you have to see penguins, even if it’s at an aquarium.
Falls colours in May? Yes, in the Southern hemisphere!

Julia’s next trip is much closer to home, to the Pacific Northwest, in a few weeks. And this time she will be taking us along too. World travel doesn’t always have to be around the world or to another hemisphere. And the trip isn’t always 17 days. Seven is good too. Or more. Or less. Where will we go next?

Traveling with Children

Traveling with children on a plane to San Francisco

I would consider myself an expert when it comes to traveling with children. Some people may use terms other than expert, such as crazy, insane or nuts. I think I am an expert. I have taken my three children on countless trips around the world, and I believe that their lives – and mine – are richer because of it.

Matthew took his first trip when he was just 17 days old (yes, specifically 17 days and I didn’t plan it that way). We flew to Israel so we could celebrate the birth of our first child with my husband David’s family. My parents traveled there as well. It was an incredible trip, with Passover, parties, hikes and time with family. Did it come with its challenges? Yes of course, but it was worth it.

Traveling with children grandparents on a balcony
Matthew with his grandparents in Israel, only one month old

Since that first trip over ten years ago we have traveled to Israel again many more times with our kids. We have made stopovers in Paris and Rome, taken them to see family in Seattle, Friday Harbour, south Florida, Vancouver and Victoria. We have journeyed on some smaller trips to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ottawa, Montreal and of course David’s family’s beloved country home in St. Donat, Quebec.

Traveling with children Pike Place
Matthew had his trip to Seattle at 8 months old
Traveling with Children pig at pike place
Julia got her trip to Seattle at 6 months old
traveling with children to Victoria
Nessa got her trip to Seattle at 5 months old but didn’t have a chance to meet the pig at Pike Place
traveling with children old city Jerusalem
How many kids have the opportunity to splash in the fountains outside the Old City of Jerusalem?

A few months ago, we crossed the equator and enjoyed the trip of a lifetime with our three kids in New Zealand. We even had a stopover in San Francisco and I won’t deny that there were hiccups. There was jet lag, strange food, inclement weather and a ton of driving. I would do it again. David’s brother’s family moved to Auckland, and giving the cousins an opportunity to spend time together outstripped some of the stresses, hiccups and obstacles we had to overcome.

traveling with children on a beach
Enjoying the hot sun at Piha Beach in New Zealand, overlooking the Tazman Sea
traveling with children on a mountain in new zealdn
David and Matthew are on top of the world on a mountain top in the South Island of New Zealand

Travel is in my family’s blood. David and I spent the first three years of our marriage living in three different places. There was a village in Normandy in France, Jerusalem and New York. Taking our children on small and big trips is a priority for us. This summer Matthew and I are traveling to Chicago for our sports fan weekend. Next week, in honour of her 7th birthday, I am taking Julia to New York for a girls’ weekend.

The weekend will be all about Julia and making her dreams about New York come true. She has requested a visit to the Statue of Liberty, Impressionist art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a ride up to the top of the Empire State Building, a Broadway show and shopping on 5th Avenue. Julia knows what she wants and as an experienced traveler at age 7 she knows she can do it.

I will post updates and photos from our trip to New York, if Julia lets me slow down and take some breaks. If anyone has ideas or suggestions of some great things to do in New York with a seven-year-old girl post a comment here or Tweet me @AliciaRichler.