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Outdoor family travel Episode #1 – Choose your interest & level of discomfort you’re willing to endure.

I’d like to welcome my first guest blogger, my husband of over 23 years, Jeff Boyle. Each Monday Jeff will bring a new article that should make you smile as well as be of practical help. His first series is about outdoor family travel. Enjoy! -Amy

Another family outdoor travel blog series?  How is this advice any different from the billions of travel tips floating out there on the web?  Well, ’cause we’ve made a well-documented family tradition of it.  And you might even find it amusing, especially when things didn’t go right.  As someone once said, “A smart man learns from his mistakes. A wise one learns from the mistakes of others.”

Let’s start with the most basic question.  What do you want to do?  I know, you’ve rolled your eyes at the unending volume of social media posts with friends “doing” another destination vacation.  What are they actually doing to pass the time in a meaningful & memorable way when they check the box, having “done” the trip to _________?  Your first challenge is to decide how you and your traveling companions desire to spend their precious time together.  That means an activity.  Not just scrolling through your Instagram feed, but hopefully something you cannot easily do at home.  You left that behind for a reason, right?

Sorry, if you thought I was going to help you with a “must see” adventure destination list, that’s not gonna happen.  This is where you & your creativity need to kick it in gear.  Maybe even ask your kids, they might have an opinion.  We happen to like camping and some of the stuff that comes along with leaving our comfortable home with indoor plumbing to sleep on the hard ground in a flimsy fabric dwelling.  That may or may not be your bag.  Figure it out for yourself.  I’ll wait…..

OK, so now that you know what you want to do, ask yourself honestly, just how much inconvenience and lack of modern creature comforts would you voluntarily subject yourself to.  Now ask your family that same question.  C’mon, do it.  Five diamond spa facilities or pooping in the woods?  Fully catered menu or do it yourself over a campfire?  Steel, concrete & glass for shelter in a rainstorm or silnylon?

Just remember, it’s not only your answer that matters here.  Family outdoor travel means everyone has to be on board.  It’s fine to push the envelope a little bit, but seriously, your Kindergartener is NOT going to backpack the Sierras.  You’ll end up with an extra pack, and resentment that will take years to unwind.  Let’s be realistic here.  We’re friends, and it’s OK to admit that a class A motorhome is about as close as you want to face nature.

In case you’re wondering, the Boyles have negotiated a balance of 3 star hotel / cabin camping / front country tenting that seems to keep everyone happy.  Mom appreciates the occasional hot shower in a real bathroom, while Dad gets his wilderness fix.  And everyone enjoys the cooking.

Next up: It’s impossible to plan the perfect trip, so why bother?

Jeff Boyle

About the author
     Jeff has been wandering around the woods since his loving parents first told him kindly to “Go outside and play!” at the tender age of 4.  About the same time, he climbed his first mountain in New Hampshire without being carried the entire way. A few years later, he married Amy, a wonderful and adventurous professional photographer, and the two of them raised four boys together.  He soon understood why his folks had encouraged him to spend so much time outdoors as an energetic youngster…  
     In Amy & Jeff’s two decades of togetherness, they’ve gone from camping mainly ’cause he’s frugal, to realizing they actually enjoy spending time in the “five billion star” resort called the great outdoors.  Both have been active in Scouting, and their own boys have mostly had no choice but to come along.  From lugging the heaviest car-camping gear ever made several miles into the woods of northern Wisconsin, to flying their latest slimmed down but still comfy adventure kit to the west coast, they’ve gotten better at getting around.
     Just about the world’s worst storyteller, Jeff has decided it’s more effective to write and share photos about what he’s learned through many years of family outdoor travel.  Like Mark Twain supposedly said, “Good judgement is the result of experience and experience the result of bad judgement.”  Hopefully his sarcastic New England style doesn’t put everyone off, especially all the nice folks he’s met in the Midwest that he’s been so lucky to have called home for what feels like forever.


©Amy Boyle Photography

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