Let’s just say that Ben and I have never been the tour-going types. The types to reserve a drug house Airbnb in Barcelona? Yes, and oops. The types to drive along the endlessly winding, incredibly narrow, barrierless, unlit Pyrenee Mountains in the middle of the night? Yes, and yikes. The types to miss our stop on the Romanian train by 20 miles… and then attempt to return to our destination on foot… along the highway? Yes, and don’t worry — we didn’t make it more than a mile.
Our travels start out as somewhat planned and then inevitably spiral into the (dangerously) spontaneous. But, that’s part of the fun of travel, right? At least in retrospect.
We’ve been on a few minor tours — awesome free walking tours in Bratislava and Madrid. And a surreal private tour by a farm-owning, crazily fit, 50-year old gaucho in Panama that included a bull-ride, a nighttime horseback ride, dips in natural springs, and well, me getting hit on by said cowboy. Yeah. But even that was unplanned and unexpected.
So, perhaps planning our first big vacation as parents of a pre-verbal, pre-walking Little One has made me want to feel a bit parented, too.
So, why did I, all of a sudden, find myself googling tours in Chile like my life depended on it? Why is it impossible for me imagine simply renting a car in Patagonia and heading where we want to go?
One answer: our Little One. This trip, as Ben pointed out to me last night, is ambitious. We’re not flying to one city for a few days and staying in one spot with a day trip here and there — as we did in Finland several months ago.
We’re heading to big-ass Chile — long and diverse and beautiful. And we’ll be staying in five different Airbnbs while we’re there! Yes, five. In four different locations. And we’ll be taking six different plane rides during our two-week trip.
So, perhaps planning our first big vacation as parents of a pre-verbal, pre-walking Little One has made me want to feel a bit parented, too. I want to turn down the knob on the adventure — just a bit — and let someone else take the reigns.
During my research, I found a tour that would pick us up from our Airbnb, drive us to Torres del Paine, Patagonia’s big national park, lead the way to the park’s greatest hits, and then drive us safely back home. Which meant I could park my brain for the day and just focus on seeing lovely things.
And it was all for the low price of $100 per person. Is that a lot or a little? Honestly, I wasn’t thinking straight.
Then, Ben gave me a reality check. “So, basically we’re going to be in the car all day, with several short stops?” he asked me. “With our Little One who hates cars, remember?”
I want to turn down the knob on the adventure — just a bit — and let someone else take the reigns.
He also reminded me that we’d recently traveled to the Texas Hill Country and had visited two state parks, where we’d enjoyed a few lovely hikes. With no tour. No guide. No sunscreen — yeah, that part was stupid. But, we’d survived. And we’d had a great time.
So, we decided to not book a tour. Instead, we got our parenting on by renting an automatic car in Patagonia. Wish us luck! I’ll let you know how it goes.
Full disclosure: we did book a pricey boat tour to Isla Magdalena, an island covered in penguins. Then again, there didn’t seem to be any other way to get there. And a small snack is included. So, that’s awesome, too.
Have you participated in tours while traveling with your baby? I’d love to hear about your experiences!
Top photo credit: melenama