Let’s be honest, traveling ANYWHERE with kids makes things interesting.
Of course, there’s the good interesting, the bad interesting, and the weird interesting. Actually, you could substitute any descriptive word in front of interesting and probably come up with a great story from traveling with kids. But the MOST interesting place? Now that’s a tough question!
Several months ago the NY Times posted a position looking for a travel journalist. The job description involved visiting a preselected 52 places in 2018 and writing about them for the publication. In the 9 days the job remained posted, a record 13,000 people applied. According to the Times the response set into motion a cultural phenomenon with applicants doing all sorts of gimmicky things to land the job.
Like 12,999 other dreamers and travel lovers, I decided to throw my name in the hat. Although I didn’t really meet the qualifications (they were searching for 1 person and I made it clear that mine was a family application!) I’ve also, clearly, been out of the job market WAY too long because I assumed throwing my name in the hat would be like a 15 minute process. 20 minutes tops.
Hours before the deadline I sat down to apply. Little did I know it would require more paperwork than buying a house, and an essay question (hello, college application flashbacks!)
As you might have guessed- the essay question read: “Tell us about the most interesting place you’ve ever been.” Although I’ve been to some REALLY amazing places, I knew even my most distant and exotic answers wouldn’t hold a candle to some of the other applicants. I mean, I’m well traveled. But I’ve never parachuted into a war zone, climbed Mt. Everest or backpacked my way through all 7 continents.
Realizing this, I decided my only option in answering the question would be to take some liberties with the word interesting. So I opted for a more unique version of interesting that only comes from traveling with kids. Here’s what I wrote:
While not the furthest away or the most exotic, the most interesting place I’ve been is down on my hands and knees in the middle of Times Square searching for my daughter’s lost tooth. Unfortunately the wiggly tooth picked the most inappropriate moment to escape her mouth. Let’s be honest, there is no place in the world less appealing to treasure hunt for a microscopic item!
But the interesting part of the experience was watching the world come together on a single mission to find my hysterical daughter’s lost tooth. For over 5 minutes, the entire world stopped. Everyone around us- from costumed super heros to non-english speaking tourists combed the pavement. No doubt several searchers assumed we were looking for a diamond ring or something far more valuable.
At one point I looked up and couldn’t help but laugh. We’d started some sort of crazy movement in Times Square with at least 20 people searching the ground. 5 minutes later, my 5-year old miraculously recovered the missing tooth. (Of all people! He’s the same child that can’t find his shoes when they’re right under his nose!) Moments later Times Square returned to the normal hustle and bustle of oddities. I looked at my husband and said “well, that was interesting.”
In 2017 our family added several stamps to our passports. We flew thousands of miles and road tripped even more. We lived out adventures (and misadventures) that others only dream of experiencing. But, I have no doubt the lasting memories will come from the impromptu and sometimes ridiculous, unplanned events.
“Interesting” is certainly a word that many would use to describe Times Square. Though until you’ve experienced it on your hands and knees with 20 other people- don’t count it out as the most interesting place in the world!
Recently I received an email thanking me for my application and letting me know I didn’t get the position.
Of course, I wasn’t surprised (in fact, I was really impressed that I even got an email notifying me!)
But I am thankful for the experience of applying and considering this question. Of course, at the time I was cussing my computer screen every time I hit “next” and found another series of questions to fill out. But, in hindsight, it’s a fun question to consider!
Mom With A Map is searching for some individuals to write guest posts this year. I’d LOVE to hear how you’d answer the question: where is the most interesting place you’ve been?
On another note, I can’t wait to follow along as Jada Yuan (the “winner” of the job!) travels to all 52 places.
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