On July 23, 2013, we arrived in Split, Croatia, after a full day’s drive from Dubrovnik. We pulled into the marina and could hear music falling out from a small café. Our Italian friend Paolo waited with beers in hand and pointed to a small raft tied to the marina wall.  

“Is that ours?”  I asked.  

“Of course.” he said, in his fun loving, slightly sarcastic Italian accent.  

While only a 10-minute excursion, with four people and four mammoth pieces of luggage it felt as if we were pushing the little craft to its limits.  

The sailboat, long and sleek, was a few yards in front of us when Paolo’s family starting waving. Danielle, with her spirited and warm hello, waved her hand towards the back of the boat.  We climbed onto the back deck, one by one, bag by bag.  The first part of the experience behind us…we were safely aboard.

After we were loaded on, oriented to our rooms and had our luggage locked down, our hired sailor Roberto pulled out to sea. 

I wore a yellow sundress with a straw hat I fell in love with the day before. Raegan and Braeden—loaded with sunblock—were in fresh summer clothes.  I asked Roberto where the life preservers were we had discussed by email a few weeks before. He handed me something that weighed at least 5 pounds. He passionately, albeit haphazardly, assured me that should Raegan fall in, it would inflate.

I wrapped the straps around her multiple times eyeing the deflated bags that hung loosely at her thighs.  The preserver hung on her like a ring of steel. The voice inside my head criticized my decision.“What are you doing?” If something happened, would you ever be able to forgive yourself?” 

I brought myself back to the moment.  My daughter, smiling, was sitting by my side.  Our feet dangled over the edge of the boat, legs tucked neatly below the metal cables keeping us aboard. I was conscious that I did not want my worries to rob me of this moment.

The boat was at sail, the marina of Split disappearing behind us.  My son was running blissfully on the flat bow of the boat with very little to protect him between the cables and the sea. This area of the boat wasn’t meant for an 8 year old to roam and play; the bow was designed to provide rest for earnest sailors who spent their days drifting. 

Once again, my fears surfaced.  My husband sat tanning himself in the setting sun, at peace and unconcerned.  I watched with envy.

What should I do? Bring my daughter below deck knowing the vest she wore would probably do more harm than good?  Shout at my son to settle down?  

I took a deep breath. I looked at the sea ahead, the land disappearing behind us, and felt the sun warm on my back.  With my daughter’s hand in mine and my son’s laughter filling my ears, I decided to just let it sail, to allow this moment to become one of the best in my life.

Travel Moment Learning

Safety standards change from country to country. At some point, it's inevitable that you will have to reconcile your own with that of the local standards. It's a good time to remember that kids are kids everywhere, and their parents love them as much as we love ours, even with different levels of safety attention.  

That said, you can educate yourself: search the internet for safety standards for any particular activity, such as sailing.  Worst case, pack your own life jackets!

What memories or thoughts does this moment bring up for you?

  • How important is safety when you travel with your kids? Does it guide your decisions or rule your decisions?
  • Did you ever feel unsafe when traveling?  
  • Are there differences in your emphasis on safety when you’re at home versus traveling?  If so, what are they?
  • Do you remember a time when your parents surprised you by letting you do something you thought they wouldn't because you might get hurt?  What impact did this have on you?

I look forward to hearing from you!  With love and curiosity, Renee

Renee Dineen10 Comments