I grew up in Germany, and my dad was in the military, so I was able to travel a lot. My dad thought it was important to see more than just the U.S., or wherever we were, so we went to Spain, to Yugoslavia, to Czechoslovakia, to East Germany when the wall was still up. We saw it all, and it’s really special for me to pass the gift of seeing the world on to my kids.
Every year, I try to do one big trip with all the kids. Last summer we did South Africa, and this year we went to Portugal and Croatia. We started in Lisbon, which had probably the most stairs I’ve ever walked in my life, and from there we went to the Algarve. But the greatest part of the trip was Croatia. My girlfriend suggested it—she has friends from there, and they’re always talking about how amazing it is. I gotta say, everybody was 100 percent right.
We started out in Dubrovnik, where Game of Thrones films. I’ve watched the first few seasons—I need a notepad to keep up with everything that’s going on—and I definitely recognized the area from the show. The city is encompassed by these castle walls, and everything is made out of stone. I think about houses in the U.S. and how after two years you’re worried about leaks and other issues, and yet these homes were built hundreds and hundreds of years ago, and they’re still standing like it’s nothing.
We chartered a nice boat with six bedrooms, and we took it up the coast to some smaller islands. The scenery was fantastic, with the most beautiful, crystal-blue water. It’s almost hard to imagine it as real—it looks like something that somebody created in Photoshop.
I probably would have lain on the boat all day and not even touched the water if it weren’t for my kids. They made me get out and do more things than I would have by myself. They were crazy. They were swimming at night and jumping off the top of the boat. I was like, “There are two things I’m not doing: I’m not swimming at night, and I’m not jumping off the top of the boat.” But then one of my kids jumped off the third level of the boat, and one jumped from the second level, so I jumped—but I chose the bottom level.
In the end, I kayaked, I paddleboarded, I Jet-Skied—I’m a daredevil on a Jet Ski—all because I didn’t want to sit on the boat and be the old dad. The kids also challenged me to get off the boat and dive into the culture. We explored museums and street fairs and tried some different foods—a lot of seafood I wouldn’t normally order.
Of course, with their energy, the kids still took it to a level that I can’t touch. They took a deep-diving class with a world champion free-diver, but they didn’t push me on that one. I told them, “My lungs are old. You guys have fresh young lungs.”
On the whole, though, the best part was just sitting around the table for every meal: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Everybody’s together, the conversations are great, and it brings us all closer before we go our separate ways to live out the rest of the year, when we only see each other sporadically—which happens more and more when you have older kids, like my 26-year-old or my 24-year-old.
It’s really special to have those two weeks uninterrupted. I work really hard, and what’s the point of that if you don’t enjoy yourself and spend time with your family? A trip like this is the payoff for all the hard work. It’s something that I hope they’ll never forget. I know I won’t.
Michael Strahan is the cohost of GMA Day on ABC. He launched a luggage line for his Collection by Michael Strahan label last year.