Thursday, May 21, 2015

Don't Dismiss Your Fermented Travel Dreams After Kids


"Honey, I'm pregnant."

Those 3 words - no matter if you hear them or say them -are followed by a range of emotions. Joy, fear, anger, etc...those 3 words mean that your life is going to change.

Change is good though, right? You bet! But as someone who wasn't expecting to have children -or 2- my initial reaction was a few rungs down the ladder from "You bet".

Before kids: random beers with random folks in random hostels = normal
Before we received our 3 word news we were on a journey with no rules. We traveled to places you'd find in guidebooks. We spent hours upon hours - from sun down to sun up 1 night in Prague - in bars and breweries soaking up local cultures. We went to work to fuel our travel habits. We had nothing holding us back from our goal of going anywhere we wanted.

Then boom, a positive test. There was an endless stream of questions racing through my head -"Do we have to buy a house?", "How do I change a diaper?", and for me more often than not "Will we ever travel again?" Along with that last question was the wonder if we'd ever be able to re-live those beer garden moments now that we had to be "responsible" parents.

If you're a soon to be parent or someone on the fence about having kids I'm here to tell you that you can still have those moments. How do I know this you ask? Well, I read books to my kids before bed 99% of the year and still manage to write about new beer travels. And since school is almost out and summer travel season is upon us I'd like to offer some advice to finding new drinks in fun places with your kids.

Kids are as excited to see new things as you are. Get them on a plane
  • The most important tip to remember is please ignore the notion that you're crazy to travel with kids beyond grandmas's house. Haters are gonna hate -hate, hate hate, hate- but don't let their boring life keep you grounded. Seeing the wonder in your kids eyes as your plane takes off or when they see a mountain for the first time is indescribable for parents who traveled before having kids.  Your only change from pre-kids is getting to describe to your wide eyed kids what they are looking at and what it means.
Getting ready for her beer science experiment
  • Breweries are a science experiment in every kettle. What kid doesn't love science? Seriously, it's not just about the free beer at the end anymore. Craft brewers love to tell you about their trade, and tours have turned into a wonderful behind the scenes of what is happening in their kettles. Going on a brewery tour for a kid is a great lesson in chemistry without messing up your own kitchen with that damn volcano project. Plus there are now many kid friendly breweries waiting to welcome your whole family with games, specialty sodas for the kids, and more. 
Don't just sit, sip, and dump your wine anymore. Find the grapes and have fun with your kids
  • Wineries have changed from tasting rooms with views of the vines and large dump buckets to family fun destinations. From petting zoos and swimming pools to gondola rides and tours the vines themselves, wineries are not just an adult destination anymore. After your brewery science experiment your kids will enjoy the outdoor fun in a peaceful setting while you enjoy the wine. 
A nice salami appetizer before our pizza and mead (best behaved in the whole place)
  • Hit the brewpubs and tasting rooms with a full food menu for meals. Not every town you travel to will have a full brewery or winery to tour, but that doesn't mean you can't quench your thirst for local flavors. The food at these establishments are carefully thought out and -like the beverages being hand crafted there- are far superior to mass produced chain meals. Go out and get your kids the 4 cheese mac and cheese and yourself the local take on a farmhouse ale. That's a win win.
The HB baby! Don't forget who you are once you have kids
I get it, nothing is as easy - since having kids - as snapping your fingers and poof your family is a on a plane. There's school, t-ball, money, and more on the table. Plus in the back of your mind there's that little voice that says "should I really be at a brewery with my kids"? Before kids we were in a large beer hall in Germany with friends and their baby. I wondered how they didn't skip a beat. Once we had our kids I understood there were 2 things going on.

1) Never forget who you actually are- if that's a traveler who likes to try local drinks then don't become someone else or you'll resent your kids. Everyday routine may change, but you don't have to change who you are. And 2) Show your kids what you love to do. They'll find the travel fascinating and you may even inspire the future of Master Brewers.  As always though -especially in front of the kids- drink responsibly so you can travel even more with them. 

Steven Grams is a seeker of new knowledge. He lives for travel, for adventure, for a new story. He absorbs everything and never forgets where he has been, who he has met, what he has seen, and how he got there.