The Journey As Destination

I remember a family shopping trip to the mall. I put forward a plan to bring younger child to shop X and for my husband to follow with the elder child. He agreed, and we immediately started walking in different directions. “What are you doing?” we asked each other simultaneously. It turned out that my husband was about to take the direct route to shop X, whereas I was planning to take a more circuitous, but ultimately faster route which avoided passing the toy shop, ice cream parlour and supermarket rides.

The point is, the most obvious route is not always the best. Sometimes it’s better to go the long way, either to make the journey more interesting, or – as in the above example – to make it less so. This might mean swapping a short flight for an overnight train journey, or using the back roads instead of the main highway. When planning our fantasy holidays, I try to see the journey from my children’s view – the time we would have to spend standing still and waiting, the ability to move around freely as opposed to sitting confined to a seat, the scenery out the window, clashes with mealtimes or sleep times, the flexibility and the predictability of the proposed schedule (both are good, there is usually a compromise where you have sufficient control without too much risk of having flexibility thrust upon you), and the novelty value of our mode of transportation. The trick is to plan a journey which keeps them distracted when there’s nothing else to do, and focussed when you need them to stay on task.

For this reason, you’ll find we work hard to avoid plane trips and long-distance buses, and break up long journeys by car, rail or boat – or schedule them around naps or bedtimes.

Not the fastest boat ride, but arguably one of the happiest - Tonle Sap, Cambodia.

Not the fastest boat ride, but arguably one of the happiest – Tonle Sap, Cambodia.