If you've been around for a while, you might recall my propensity to load my kids in the car and take them on month-long road trips. Needless to say, I am grateful for the freedom that being self-employed homeschoolers affords us, and we seize the opportunity to travel together whenever we can.
In between there were more weekend-, week-, and two-week trips than I can count. But the month-long trips have been our baseline for what it means to jump in with both feet and have a life-changing adventure.
One month. There's no hurry. There's space to explore, meet people, and find your groove. Instead of skimming the surface you can dive deeper and just be in that new reality.
Honestly, for me it's ideal.
Our budget is pretty tight, however, so our bigger trips are a few years apart and always of the couch-surfing or camping variety.
But then a funny thing happened. I remembered that when Sage was a newborn I got my first business credit card. On the advice of a friend I chose a card with a "hassle-free miles" type of perk associated with it. They never expire and they're easy to use. I had never had a card with perks before.
Logically, this means that I promptly forgot all about them.
Recently I remembered. (As it tuns out, our personal credit card is on the same program.) I wondered if we might maybe have enough miles to take a small trip somewhere. Possibly on a plane. With passports.
So I called up my credit card company to find out how many miles we had. The agent on the phone started to laugh and said, "You have a lot of miles. A lot. How long have you been saving these?!"
Nearly fifteen years.
Fifteen years of miles from every business and personal purchase we have made with a credit card.
Yes, we could cash them out for dollars, but you get about 1/2 their value when you do so. And honestly, it felt like such a gift from the universe to have this fall into our lap when Sage is on the cusp of grown. An amazing trip we otherwise couldn't afford? Yes, please.
Because it's time for an epic adventure.
I'm not sure how we landed on the idea of Ireland, except that Lupine had her heart set on Paris but the rest of us were skeptical. We're not city people. None of us. Not even Lupine.
So in the way that homeschoolers so often do, we went down the rabbit hole of research, looking for rural regions of France to explore. This led us to read up on much of Europe which ultimately led us to Ireland.
And as soon as we started to study Ireland our decision was unanimous. This was where we wanted to go.
No, we're not Irish. But yes, Ireland feels just our pace.
Though we've teased the kids that we're only going because we miss having sheep and I need more yarn, there are countless things we're excited about experiencing there. From the natural beauty to castle ruins; from meeting local people to exploring the rich history of this fascinating place, one month feels hardly enough.
We've been doing our best to study up on Irish history (so complicated!) and Sage and Lupine have spent the past few months learning some Gaelic (with this program – afflink). Sometimes I overhear them making up jokes with one another that I don't quite understand, though I'm fairly certain bizarrely colored animals are involved, possibly eating or drinking bicycles (but don't quote me on that).
This trip will be their first time on an airplane, their first time in a different country, our first family trip abroad, and – most importantly – the first time Pete will be joining us for a trip lasting longer than 2 weeks.
We're beyond excited.
Not a shabby start to "back to school" season, in my opinion.
And so, dear friends, I turn to you.
Do you live in Ireland? Have you visited recently? Any great tips or generous offers that we can't refuse? (Indeed, we do still welcome the occasional couch-surf!) We're open to any and all suggestions that you may have.
At the moment we have planned a three week trip around the island from Dublin to Dingle and Connemara, then up to Belfast and the Giant's Causeway. Our fourth week we'll spend traveling by barge (houseboat) on a canal in central Ireland.
We have secured only a few nights lodging in hopes of having a bit more freedom to follow our hearts and wander as the inspiration strikes, perhaps with some tips for off-the-path things to see and do. (Of course all this open-endedness make me worry we'll end up sleeping in the car, but that would be memorable too, I suppose.)
Our trip will take place throughout the month of September, and I'll certainly share our travels with you here on the blog.
And what an adventure it will be!
So. What do you suggest?
Slán go fóill!