Reflections on Alpbach

I’ll post a more thorough review of our trip soon — where we stayed, what we did, what we would have done differently — but for now, I’m a little weary after two days of (exhausting, semi-torturous) skiing and a 4+ hour train journey today, so I’m just going to share some thoughts about our latest adventure.

182First, train travel is awesome with kids.  I really think it’s the way to go.  Our trip was 4 1/2 hours each way (it actually ended up being a bit longer on the way there, due to delays because of the snow).  The kids did great.  It was easy to keep them contained, keep them entertained, feed all of us, get some rest and just generally arrive relatively happy.  This was our first trip with a compartment (as opposed to just seats).  It was fantastic.  It is easy, fun, and relatively low stress.  When you consider how far ahead of a flight you typically have to arrive at the airport, plus the fact that in Vienna, the airport is further outside of town than the train station, I think it actually took us less time to take the train than it would to fly.  It was win/win.

145Second, skiing with kids is hard.  After just collecting our skis, boots and poles, getting onto the right bus and getting TO the ski area, we were about ready to quit.  But, we really did have fun, and I’m glad we stuck it out.  I think it’s like anything — there are so many little tricks and compromises that make the whole thing a lot easier, and you just have to watch the people who know what they’re doing, and ask questions, and you’ll get better.  The skiing itself is really fun, it’s just that getting everyone suited up, to the lift, and ready to ski is a lot of work.  Also, we had to accept that Liam didn’t want to ski.  If we’d tried to force him, we all would have been miserable.  Maybe he’ll try it next time, maybe not.  Either is ok.  But to really enjoy ourselves, we really had to let go of any expectations — it was going to “work”, or not; the kids were going to have fun, or not; we were going to get to ski, or not.  We showed up, we gave it a good try, we had a good time.  But so much of us enjoying this weekend came from measuring it by the experience we were having in the moment, rather than by measuring it against what we thought was going to happen.

166Finally, no matter how much preparation, thought and consideration go into planning a trip, it’ll be the unexpected little moments that really make it wonderful.  Watching B discover and enjoy skiing was amazing, without a doubt, but I think our collective favorite part of the trip was yesterday evening when we went out for an impromptu walk after dinner and ended up sledding with B in the dark and then walking up a dark hiking trail (at Liam’s urging) into a clearing overlooking the village and the valley.  That moment, of all standing together on the hillside in the moonlight, marvelling at the beauty of our surroundings, was something that I will never forget.

On the other hand

I love sharing the fun, adventurous experiences we have here, like going to Innsbruck and sledding down a mountain.  I share all of this in part to document the experience, and in part to encourage others to do this kind of thing — to travel with your children, to push the envelope of what you think is possible, to explore the world.  But, it isn’t all sweetness and light, and I want to share that part, too.  I was so euphoric from our trip to Innsbruck when I wrote about it the other day that I didn’t include the other side of the trip, and I think it’s only fair to capture that part, too.  Travel with kids is challenging.  There are going to be moments where you think, “Why did we do this again?  Wasn’t this supposed to be fun?”  But those moments will pass, and it is fun, and you’ll be glad you did it (I am).

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