Why we travel

We’ll think of a reason later.

That’s what we said when we started traveling as a family back in 2010. That’s a lot of time to think of a reason.

Well, we have. But it’s more of a snapshot, really. Reasons, like people, change over time. Here’s why we are traveling today.

Aren (13)

Aren is our resident photographer. Our lanky teen-ager carriers a Canon 1Dx and several heavy lenses. He knows his equipment inside and out. Whatever you do, don’t ask him about his passion for photography unless you have an hour to spare.

Among his favorite subjects: Cats (we have three bengal cats back home), landscapes (Grand Canyon and European Alps are some of his favorites) and candid shots of his siblings getting themselves into all kinds of trouble.

Aren doesn’t only see the world through a lense. He collects images that are used for his photoshop illustrations. (Dad publishes them on his consumer advocacy site.)

Iden (10)

Whenever anyone asks my son Iden why he travels he doesn’t hesitate to say, “I like food.”

His favorite meal is a tie between the Crab Pizza at the Hali’imaile General Store in Maui and the Pizza Homer (lobster pizza) at Muv Box in Montreal. Wherever we go, he’s the first one to ask people what they like to eat. He’s had spicy calamari in Naples, savory escargot in Versailles and stuffed oysters in Apalachicola.

We benefit from Iden’s obsession with flavor, because he’s always pushing us to try new things. He’s the one who insisted we try the spicy green chili burgers at a shack called the Shake Foundation in Santa Fe and the pulled pork poutine at Coney Island Cafe that was recommended near the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Heritage Center in Regina, Saskatchewan.

If it weren’t for Iden, we might have never visited the Tillamook Factory when we were traveling along the Oregon Coast or taken the tour at the Celestial Seasonings plant in Boulder, Colorado.

Erysse (8)

Our youngest child is our collector.

It doesn’t matter if it’s pins, business cards, T-shirts … or memories. Every place we visit she asks for something to bring home. And that’s become quite a collection. Sometimes it’s as simple as seashells from Sanibel Island or sea glass along the Mendocino coast.

She also has an unusual collection of pins. Her favorites are a recent acquisition from the RCMP Heritage Center near the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Depot training center, and the pride pin worn by employees at the Union Station Crawford Hotel in Denver.

Kari (uh, 29ish)

It’s the drama and adventure that attracts Kari to travel. Those are key elements to the stories she shares online. Without the constant travel schedule, check-ins and check-outs, rest stops and restaurants, life just wouldn’t be as interesting.

What does it take? Nerves of steel and meticulous planning skills. Neither of which she says she has (but her family disagrees).

Still, disaster follows her around.

A few years ago, a planned trip to Montreal and Quebec City shifted from a fun road trip to a terrifying natural disaster as earthquakes, floods and hurricane tracked the family up the east coast.

More recently at a waterfront cabin in Carlisle, Pa., they spend a nerve wracking night following the NOAA website watching the water levels of the river rise, flooding out much of the city. The car wasn’t washed away but it took a few hours to extract it from the muddy plain.

Chris (slightly older than 29)

Travel is field research for Chris. He’s a consumer advocate with a specialty in travel, so when he’s on the road, he observes how other people travel — and it makes me a more effective advocate.

You can’t know how travelers feel about fees until you’re hit with a surprise surcharge. And you don’t really understand bad service until someone hands you the key to a room that’s already occupied or that hasn’t been cleaned. Or the gas station tries to charge you a higher price because you’re using a credit card. It’s just something you need to experience before you can understand it.

The kids are still wondering why he had to cross the road so many times to get gas in Willis, Calif., getting increasingly angry each time he did. Here’s an explanation.

Travel teaches Chris how to be a more effective consumer advocate, whether it’s a visit to the human rights museum in Winnipeg or dinner at a barbecue joint in a remote place.

We travel for all kinds of reasons, as you can see. But most of all, we travel because we love to spend time together. Oh sure, we argue (doesn’t every family?) But we also love being around each other and experiencing the world together.