12 July 2011
A Kid's-Eye View of Sweden and Denmark
Traveling abroad is not a requirement for a happy childhood. It's not like the all-American roadtrip or the family camping trip or the visit to Yellowstone or Washington DC or New York City or (drum roll)......... Disney World. These aren't requirements either but they ARE on the list of Iconic Family Vacation Destinations. And some of you would suffer some serious guilt if your child went off to college without checking some of these boxes. But you would have to be seriously privileged to suffer the same guilt if you neglected to take your child to Europe. Four to five airline tickets to Europe for the average American family is exponentially more expensive than a daily tank of gas in the Wagon Queen Family Truckster in metallic pea (not the arctic blue). And many would argue that a European vacation can't even be appropriately appreciated by a child. But...........
I have a tiny little family. A much cheaper and much more mobile family. And we went to Sweden. Land of Pippi Longstocking and meatballs and boats and vikings and ice cream shops on every corner. And we went to Denmark, land of Lego and Tivoli and The Little Mermaid and bikes and more bikes and more bikes and more bikes (and, actually, boats and vikings and ice cream shops on every corner). It's like a tiny family vacation paradise.
Before we left, Liam and I looked through guidebooks and websites and scoured the library for Astrid Lindgren and Hans Christian Andersen. When he got bored with geography books, I had him point to pictures of things he wanted to do. Then we made copies of those pictures and he cut and pasted them into a blank book. The result was his own personal guidebook; a completely kid-centric itinerary. We, the adults, often think we're planning a kid-friendly trip but, in actuality, we're just making a statement about what adults think children should enjoy. Liam's guidebook shook me out of my traditional must-see trip planning and simplified my view of what is fun.