Open to Surprise When Traveling

Storybook Dollhouse at the Thomas Hughes children's library

The best part of travel is always the experience that is unplanned. The thing that you think will be great is never the thing that is most memorable. (Like, it’s not the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but the pizza vendor near the tourist attraction!)

Yesterday, the kids had the most fun of their lives sliding in their winter coats on some long wooden couch/bench at the Hilton Hotel lobby. (I did my usual thing of walking away from them, muttering, “Whose kids are those?”)

The sliding bench in the lobby was almost as fun at the dollhouse tucked into the children’s room at the Harold Washington Library.

We met my mother in the airy atrium on the top floor of the library and she took us on a tour. She could be a professional tour guide for the city of Chicago, unlocking secrets hidden in plain sight. She showed us site-specific

art in the library. Some art she liked and some art baffled her. My kids got bored with the art as they have at other times visiting museums with grandma.

The kids were not bored at the storybook dollhouse. They kept finding children’s stories in the rooms, “There’s Frog and Toad!” and “There’s Goodnight Moon!”

Traveling with children is like living in a dollhouse. You are tucked away in a smaller and self-contained world. When I travel, looking for adventure, I must remember to get off the beaten trail and be open to the unexpected gems and the local tour guides, even if they are related to me.

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