New Year, New Travel: What Will 2016 Bring?

After returning from my first business trip of the year, I had some time to think about my trips in 2015. At the start, I made a promise to myself to make the most of every trip I took. It didn’t matter if it was business or personal, I was going to find the sense of adventure that travel embodies for me. Reflecting back, I am proud to say I made the most of (almost) every single trip and am really kind of amazed at what I was able to experience – all because I opened up my perspective on what travel could be.

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Here are the top three things I learned in 2015:

  1. Friends: By far, the best thing I got out of my travels in 2015 was time with friends who I rarely see anymore. In DC, Boston, Seattle, Boise and the Bay Area I reconnected with friends, caught up on their lives and realized how lucky I am to have these people be a part of my journey. Conversations picked up where they left off 12 years ago, our kids hung out together and in the small space of an hour or two I was reminded why we were friends in the first place.
  2. Stay the Weekend: In the past, I’ve always hesitated to take an extra day or two and extend a business trip. Too much work in the office! Who is going to take the kids to their weekend activities? In other words, I came up with a lot of excuses. This year I had the chance to attend a conference in Monaco and decided I needed to stay to explore the country and visit an area I had never been to before. I learned so much about myself – sometimes its ok to wander with out a plan, eating at a great restaurant can be a wonderful experience even if you are by yourself, but most of all, I learned how important sharing a travel experience is for me. I would do it all over again next time a great opportunity presents itself, but I may just invite family or friends to join me.
  3. Find the “moment”: Regardless of where I was, there always seemed to be one moment that sent chills up my spine, took my breath away or made me want to jump around like a little kid. In Chattanooga, it was finding this cool breakfast place and deciding with my 13 year old we were going to seek out the best breakfast place in every city we traveled to for soccer. When I was in Monaco I was walking to dinner with my colleagues, we turned the corner to this breathtaking view and had an incredible dinner at this amazing little restaurant. Driving from SFO to Half Moon Bay, I took a trip down memory lane seeing the pumpkin patch I took my kids to as toddlers and the English pub randomly sitting off of Hwy 1 where we had 4th of July lunch one year. All of these moments gave me “that” feeling and I knew I needed to hold on to them. Those are the moments that make me feel alive.

So what will 2016 bring? As of today there are no big trips on the books, but I will admit I’m itching to plan my next adventure. There will be definitely be soccer travel and I can only imagine what 17 fourteen year old boys can get up to in Vegas. Hopefully they’ll remember they are there to play soccer!

The one thing I know for certain is I’m going to make the most of every day I can for traveling. Conde Nast Traveler had a great article in December about 8 New Year’s Travel Resolutions and the one that jumped out at me was “Make 2016 the year of no unclaimed vacation days”. Amen. I’m pretty sure that is a resolution I can handle.

More Than A Game

With two teenage sons playing competitive sports, I spend a lot of my “free” time traveling for soccer. For many years the travel was in-state with an occasional out-of-state tournament. Last year, that all changed when my younger son was on a team playing in Region 3 competitions. All of a sudden our regular season games involved teams in three different states and many, many hours in the car. 

While this certainly took our family’s commitment to soccer to a whole new level, we realized pretty quickly there was a lot to be gained as well. The boys played some amazing soccer and had the privilege of representing North Carolina in the Regional Championships in Little Rock in June. They built friendships that came with not only being teammates, but spending countless hours hanging out together in hotels and on the fields. 

  

However, it hasn’t just been my son getting something from this soccer adventure, I have too. I’ve made new friends who adore my son and have my back as a working mom trying to juggle all these different time commitments. I got to spend one weekend catching up with one of my dearest friends as we schlepped to Chattanooga with our boys. It may have been a long drive, but I wouldn’t trade that time for anything because we actually got to sit and talk uninterrupted for nearly 16 hours in the car. I have even discovered some great breakfast places as we try to find something new in each city we visit for the first time. All of these experiences make the time, money and effort our family puts into soccer worth it for us all.

  

This weekend was the start of a new season with a new team and we were off to Atlanta. As with any new team, there was a lot of anticipation on how the weekend would go. How would the team do? What new friends would my son make? Heck, what new friends would I make? In the end the weekend was full of pleasant surprises.

The boys had a strong start to the season with a 5-1 win. After a team dinner and the official activities were out of the way, the boys wandered off to hang out together and the parents did the same. The other U14 boys team from our club was also at the hotel and as the evening wore on everyone intermingled together. 

At one point there were about 10 of us sitting around a large table and the stories started coming. The good, the bad and the ugly of tournaments won or lost. The comical adventures off the field. The treacherous weather we survived to get to those tournaments or games. People came and went from the group. Side conversations started with folks catching each other up on the latest happenings in their lives. Laughter dominated the conversations, but a few solemn moments were also had.

  

All of a sudden I stopped to really look at what was going on around me and I realized how lucky we were to share this experience. All of our boys have played soccer together for years. They have been teammates and competitors. They have won and lost games. They have cheered for their friends success and consoled each other when they have struggled. It was almost as if we had one collective memory of our boys playing together because somehow or someway they were all interconnected. The lines completely blurred on who had been on what team because everyone had a piece of the story to tell.

It’s not always easy being the soccer mom or dad. As much as I love watching my boys compete, there are times when the last thing you really want to do is drive 6 hours and spend yet another weekend on a field or at a hotel. Sometimes, though, you get those moments that make it all worthwhile. Sitting around a table with these parents who are on this youth sports journey with me, sharing stories – and a whole lot of laughter – made me very grateful that it’s not just my kids who get this experience, but me too.