cubaSurely I may come back from this trip screaming at each of you to never partake on such an adventure with children of this age. But I do have a game plan. And I’m reminding myself often that there are several way more daring than me. I mean there are people that travel in recreational vehicles across state lines, with children, permanently.

So my game plan is this:

-Return to a place you have been before. This way, even if we miss out we don’t really miss out. No patience left to hit up that museum you visited 4 years ago? No problem, you saw it 4 years ago.

-Pick a place worthy to return. I’ve always traveled under the guise that I would never go anywhere twice and this is nothing more than a testament to the fact that I love to travel and see new places and returning to somewhere I’ve been before feels a bit lacking in purpose. But Cuba? There is no where in the world like Cuba. And when Castro is officially six feet under, things will change. It’s already in the process of change. But man, so much has stayed the same. A lot of people feel like they should have been born in another generation; sometimes I feel the same way. Well guess what? Taking a trip to Cuba is like taking a time capsule to decades past.

-Convince your friends to go with you. Thankfully this wasn’t a hard sell. Janet and I have traveled all over the world together and she, too, has been to Cuba before. Convincing her to come along with one of her babes (she’s leaving the little ones with family) and hubs in tow was as simple as sending a few screen shots of Havana to stir up old memories and borrowing a few quotes from the trusty ol’ guidebook, “Cuba is like a prince in a poor man’s coat: behind the sometimes shabby facades, gold dust lingers. It’s these rich dichotomies that make travel here the exciting, exhilarating roller-coaster ride it is. Trapped in a time warp and reeling from an economic embargo that has grated for more than half a century, this is a country where you can wave goodbye to Western certainties and expect the unexpected. If Cuba were a book, it would be James Joyce’s Ulysses: layered, hard to grasp, serially misunderstood, but – above all – a classic”.

I’m envisioning a date night with Willy, when we can leave the boys with Janet’s gang (and vice versa), best friend time while the guys either sleep or smoke cigars along the malecon (boardwalk), and plenty of group hangs where despite tantrums from hungry and sleep deprived kids we feel that camaraderie that only seems to come along with being in the company of others who are suffering right alongside you. I know it won’t be easy… I don’t like travel to be easy, but I do know it will be memorable.

Added bonus: Spanish is Janet’s first language (she’s part Cuban, part Guatemalan and despite looking ‘white’, her mom doesn’t even speak English).

-Limit your itinerary. We took this to the extreme in that we have no plans. In fact, at the time of writing this post I’m not even sure where we’re staying. But I also know Havana has loads of warm and friendly families that are happy to invite you into their home and I’m kinda looking forward to showing up and figuring it out. We’re limiting our traveling around to no more than two different places and we’re not even sure, aside from Havana, where else we’ll go. And even while we’re in Havana, we have nothing on the itinerary other than ‘hang out’.

-Shorten your stay. Typically I won’t go through the hassle of flying somewhere far away and spending money on a hefty plane ticket unless I can stay at least two weeks. We’re staying shorter this go-around and I think we’ll be glad we did.

-Prep your husband. Attitude is everything when you’re traveling with kids. This will be our first time traveling international with kids and international travels brings a whole new set of annoyances: time changes, language barriers, pillows literally stuffed with cotton balls, the list goes on and on. And so, we’ve talked a lot about being patient with each other and with the kids. I also think having friends there as a buffer will help. Struggles are always lessened when shared.

Not sure what kind of cell service we’ll get, if any, but if I have service I’ll be sure to post a few images via instagram along the way. I have a few posts scheduled during the time we’ll be gone and loads of photo sessions I hope to get caught up in sharing once we get back… along with laundry and shop stuff and now I’m getting stressed about coming back. Wish us luck. And for those who have done a lot of traveling with little ones, got any tips?

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