What happens when a child — especially the off spring of an automotive journalist — just won’t warm to road trips? Basem Wasef ponders the dilemma.
You could say I live to travel. Born in Cairo and raised in London before I settled in Los Angeles, my childhood saw a constantly shifting picture window of vacation scenery thanks to my gallivanting parents. Weekend camping trip to Germany? Natürlich. Spontaneous getaway to France? Mais oui. And so it seemed natural that when I was finally graced with a child, it was my duty (and not-so-secret joy) to instill the gift of globe-trotting.
The indoctrination was effective immediately: My son Ago made his way home from the hospital in a borrowed Bentley Mulsanne, a grande dame that evoked the grandeur of another era. His first birthday was spent in Paris. My wife and I made liberal use of his travel-friendly dimensions, hopping across the pond on whims to climb the Duomo in Florence, explore medieval Portuguese castles — whatever it took to scratch the insatiable itch of wanderlust.
Travel seemed to suit him, though one particular all-day drive involving breakfast in Bavaria, lunch in Austria and dinner in Italy reinforced a curious observation: He did not care for road trips. This was a disturbing trend, not only because I consider open highways an elemental source of soul satisfaction, but also because my career in automotive journalism has afforded me the luxury of a peripatetic life sampling some of the world’s most lavish vehicles in far- flung locales. Road trips also played a pivotal part in my relationship with my wife. We once bought a vintage Porsche 911 and drove it across America; we rode Ducatis across Italy; we careened through New York City on a scooter. If there was a vehicle and a full tank of gas, sunsets were ours to chase, indefinitely.
But here we are, despite my sincerest attempts to warm our 6-year-old up to automotive travel, with a little rascal that just won’t gel with road trips. Should we cave and allow him to watch Netflix instead of the passing scenery? Maybe dangle the carrot of a dream location at the end of a stick — perhaps Kennedy Space Center to satisfy his rocket fascination, or Hagia Sophia to feed his inexplicable fixation with large-scale historical architecture? The answer is out there, and will no doubt reveal itself somewhere between hither and yon. Barring a DNA test to verify his genetics, I suspect it might be some time before I learn if our little travel end can find a place in his heart for automotive journeys. Until then, hope springs eternal that he’ll see the allure of the open road.