Why on earth have we chosen to travel the world for nine months and drag our children, who arguably won’t even remember anything, around with us?
Having Kids is a Reason to Travel
Now that we have children, I feel like we have even more of a reason to travel. There are three humans we are responsible for shaping into functioning adults over the next eighteen years. We want our kids to be global citizens, to know their place in the world, and to be exposed to different ways of life and perspectives.
I began traveling when I was eleven-years-old. I visited my father for two months over the summer while he was working in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. My eyes were opened wide as I took in that new world. A world where roasted ducks hung in store windows. A world in which we didn’t have a personal car at our disposal. A world that made me feel completely out of place and even uncomfortable at times. Rather than recoiling from these sometimes unsettling feelings, I leaned into them. I visited rural Mexico several times in my teens as part of service trips and saw extreme poverty for the first time. The lessons I learned as a child and a young adult while traveling laid the foundation for the way I experience the world around me, near and far.
Traveling as children will shape who they become. We hope that they develop flexibility, patience, an appreciation of the natural world, empathy and kindness. And, quite honestly, I hope they learn that the world doesn’t revolve around them and that it is much much bigger than Fort Collins, Colorado.
Traveling Affords Us More Quality Time
Back home, our family seems to move very quickly. It feels like we are constantly rushing. I literally never stop hollering at kids to put on shoes or to go to the bathroom. We are slaves to a schedule, a clock, a reminder “ding” on my phone.
Visiting other countries, whether on vacation or longer-term, has always made us move much slower. Many cultures embrace a slower-paced life. For example, here in Spain, people will spend a minimum of two hours enjoying mealtime. Going to the grocery store is a bi-weekly event for us that takes up an entire morning since we do not have a vehicle and can only bring home what we can carry.
Not only do the everyday tasks of life happen slowly, we also have more quality time together because we don’t have the schedule and routine like we do back home. We are able to be consciously and deliberately present, which in these early years of life feels precious.
We Like to Travel
Having kids doesn’t mean that we are going to stop doing the things we enjoy. We now get to do it together! Traveling is one of the loves of my life. I love the sights, the sounds, the smells, the tastes. Mainly the tastes. Traveling stretches me out of my comfort zone and challenges assumptions. It creates a deeper awareness of the interconnectedness of the world and builds appreciation of the hand I was dealt in life.
Below is a quote by Everett Ruess, whom our youngest son’s middle name is after. It has always spoken to my wanderlusting heart and perfectly encapsulates the wonder and trials of extended travel.
“As to when I shall visit civilization, it will not be soon, I think. I have not tired of the wilderness; rather I enjoy its beauty and the vagrant life I lead, more keenly all the time. I prefer the saddle to the streetcar and star-sprinkled sky to a roof, the obscure and difficult trail, leading into the unknown, to any paved highway, and the deep peace of the wild to the discontent bred by cities. Do you blame me then for staying here, where I feel that I belong and am one with the world around me? It is true that I miss intelligent companionship, but there are so few with whom I can share the things that mean so much to me that I have learned to contain myself. It is enough that I am surrounded with beauty….
Even from your scant description, I know that I could not bear the routine and humdrum of the life that you are forced to lead. I don’t think I could ever settle down. I have known too much of the depths of life already, and I would prefer anything to an anticlimax.”Everett Ruess
Why do you choose to travel with your kids? What are your hesitations?