Have family will travel

by Evans Yonson

Barcelona – I was once asked about my first  travel away from home. I don’t remember exactly the time and year it was. But what I remember vividly was the experience of crossing a flooded river in the north-eastern part of our province. The bridge was broken and that no one could pass through except crossing the river down below. My father asked a big truck ahead of us to pull our vehicle. We were lucky to have crossed earlier we were told because the water rose higher an hour after.

Is it fun travelling with family? Does travel spell family? Or does the adage apply to us, a family that travels together stays together?

After that harrowing experiences, there have been more travels with my father and siblings later on. My father was the adventurous one. Perhaps I took it from him the venturesome character in me. While my mom was the usual homebody and contented with my kids at home type. She always believed that it was bad luck that we all travel together. She was probably afraid that if anything happens we would all go and perish together. Just like that. Adventure then only happened during summer vacations when we were free from the humdrum academic life. We went to the beach every Sunday where we were growing up. My father would prepare the food. My mother would pack and get our things ready.

When I moved to Manila three years after my father’s death, travels came in  flooding. I was travelling here and there because my work required me to do lectures and conduct workshops around the country. I have braved the ashfall/rainfall of Pampanga. Or even experienced the earthquakes of Mindoro. Or heard and seen a landslide on the road between Banaue and Sagada. Or have trekked the Callao Caves of Cagayan Valley. Or scorned the mummified Ferdinand Marcos in Ilocos. Or have eaten five durian fruits in one sitting in Davao. Or have stayed in Boracay for only an hour and back.

Sometimes travel is best shared with family or a partner because it makes the experience worthwhile. But most of the times, travelling alone is more self-satisfying and enriching in the end. Prague, Czech Republic. Summer 2010.

It was only in 2000 that I opened the idea of travelling abroad to my Mother. She gladly said yes and we went to Bangkok to our first trip away from the Philippines. She was very happy then because she finally got to use her passport and pass through an immigration officer. The next year after that we went to Hong Kong and crossed the Chinese border to the  Shenzhen in Mainland China. But she was already sickly then. She couldn’t cope up with the fast-paced travel agency packaged tour anymore.

My first travel away from the Philippines was with my Nanay, my sister, and my niece. It was a beginning of my personal travels abroad. We went to Hong Kong and China the next year. Bangkok, Thailand, April 2000.

During my recent trip to Prague in Czech Republic, I had the opportunity of sharing my hostel room with a Spanish couple and their two young boys. The kids were 5 and 3 years old. The husband and wife took turns in caring for these kids. I couldn’t stand the site of these mischievous kids. But the couple were very patient and gladly took everything in stride. The amazing part of this couple’s story was that they drove all the way from Madrid. Yes believe me you. That’s more than six countries away from Czech Republic. They were moving to three more countries for the rest of summer. Travelling more than 5,000 kilometers to and fro with their kids. The mother spoke little English. The father understood but couldn’t speak conversational English. Imagine the horror when their car broke down between Switzerland and Germany.

We were trained to follow orders and move like military personnel. Sit straight. Keep quiet. Don't talk when you're not spoken with. But still it wasn't easy to handle five children in one travel away from home. I couldn't imagine now how it would have been very difficult then for our parents to handle us. Prague, Czech Republic. Summer 2010.

I realized why we never travelled as a family then. There were five of us. Different personalities. Four boys and one girl. I could never imagine how our Mother was able to raise the five of us while my Father was in the military service. Much more if we were to travel as a family. It could have been a disaster summer in and summer out.  But family is always fun, travelling or not. It’s just that we are the DIY-type of adventurers. We travel far and come home and share different experiences which is quite enriching in the end. The adage may then apply to one family and for the rest not. But it all  really boils down to a strong foundation at the homefront. At the moment you step out of that familiar door, there’s no point of being anxious anymore when greater understanding have been taught earlier on in life.