I’m writing this on Mother’s Day and both of my kids are out of the country. But don’t worry, I’m glad. They developed their love of travel because of me. I’m taking all the credit. LOL. I don’t know if they would’ve tapped into this wonderful gift if our lives hadn’t taken the journey that it did.
My husband passed away in 2001. At the time, my two kids were 11 and 13. That’s a tough time to lose a parent. They both acted out a couple of times but have turned out to be amazing and accomplished adults. I hope it’s because I did something right or perhaps it’s just dumb luck.
After a while, my boyfriend Doug moved in with me and we decided to take a trip to Spain. It was my first trip to Europe ever.
My kid’s love of travel began in Madrid
My husband, bless his soul, never had much of a love of travel other than for work. He went to Africa twice for film shoots. On one of those occasions, I was 9 months pregnant. I had my son without him and we faxed a picture of the little tyke to the capital of Namibia where it was flown on a small bush plane to where my husband was encamped in Bushman land.
Our plan was for Doug and me to spend 3 weeks in Spain starting in Barcelona and ending in Madrid. We would meet up with his brother who had designed the sets and costumes for a production of La Boheme at the Teatro Real Opera House across from the Palace. The kids were still in school, and couldn’t take off that long. They would meet us in Madrid to spend a week with us before going home. At the time, my daughter was 18 and my son was 16. They stayed at home by themselves with an uncle checking up on them. He also drove them to the airport. I was worried out of my gourd, but they made it to LAX, changed planes at Heathrow, landed in Madrid and took a cab to the hotel.
To add to my anxiety, Doug and I were on a train when the kids arrived that didn’t arrive in Madrid until the next morning. Doug’s brother, who they had never met, was staying at the same hotel and would be available if they needed anything. But, I didn’t have to worry. As I sat sweating with nervousness, they were out having a ball and had things well in hand on their own.
They boarded the Hop on Hop Off Bus near the hotel and took a tour of the city. By the time we arrived the next day, they’d already been to the Prado Museum, the Palace and knew their way around Madrid. I was impressed and relieved.
The kids wanted to spend a day just with me so they took me to the lake at El Retiro park that they’d already scouted out near the Prado Museum. We rented a boat and had a relaxing time floating on the lake observing the splendor and festive atmosphere of the park. During our time in Spain, my son and daughter developed a deeper bond that they still have to this day. Oh, and Spain has a very low drinking age that my kids happily took advantage of. Teens will be teens.
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I reveled in watching my kid’s wide-eyed wonder and love for adventure as we spent time walking through cobbled streets and medieval plazas. We also enjoyed savoring tapas at rustic tavernas.
During the rest of the week, we toured Madrid, went on a day trip to Toledo, El Escorial, The Valley of the Fallen, watched a Flamenco performance, visited Plaza Mayor, and enjoyed an evening at the Opera.
Our night at the Madrid Opera was a regal experience. Doug’s brother Michael reserved orchestra seats for us and he invited us to attend the opening night cast reception for the king of Spain’s birthday after the performance. The king stayed at home and watch soccer instead, but we had a fabulous time hanging out with the cast and crew. The kids loved the show even though none of it was in English and the Super-titles were in Spanish. Just the fact that they loved an opera floored me.
The short week we spent together in Madrid instilled the love of travel in my kids that has never disappeared.
Becoming world travelers
The next year, they went to Europe for a month on a 9 country tour with a guy named Buzz who organizes trips for high school and college-aged kids. They had a ball and both jumped out of a helicopter over Interlaken, Switzerland, much to my alarm.
My son joined the Air Force when he turned 18 and now travels to exotic destinations on missions. He was stationed in Okinawa for 2 years, has been in Guam, Puerto Rico, Curacao, Qatar, Tokyo, Germany, and various stops in between. The long hair is gone, and now he sports a crew cut. My daughter travels constantly because she has a great job and sometimes takes me with her.
I’m glad I was able to inspire my kid’s love of travel and hope they continue to seek adventure. I started late (not by choice) and am now trying to catch up with them. You can see more photos of Madrid by clicking here.
Planning a Trip to Madrid
Find a hotel in Madrid
- Booking.com – Find a hotel in Madrid.
Get the best price on a flight to Spain
- Skyscanner – Find the most affordable flight to Madrid on a search engine you can trust.
Rent a car in Spain
- Auto Europe – This site offers the best auto rates in Europe.
Take a tour of Madrid
- Tour Madrid – Book a bus tour on Viator to see the amazing sites of Madrid.
- Tours by Locals – Find a local guide to take you on a private and personalized tour.
Do your kids have a love of travel? Did you inspire them? Please leave a comment below.