Over the span of eighteen months of international travel in the past three years, we’ve traveled to eighteen countries on four different continents with our two daughters. In six of those countries, our daughters have attended local schools from one month to three months at a time. We’ve traveled with our kids, early and often.
Travel is our lifestyle. It’s who we are. It’s why we live. It’s the story of our life, and we’re just getting started.
“Life is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
When you travel with kids, you experience life around you by being more receptive to everything and everyone around you. You’ll try new things, taste new tastes, smell new smells, hear new sounds and languages, feel new textures, and finally breathe. One big breath, then another, and another, until you’re at peace with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. You’ll be alive, at last.
Every day can be a travel day, whether you’re at home or abroad, but you need to have a traveler’s eyes, ears, and heart; you need to look, listen, and love. The ordinary can become extraordinary with a new lens; the colors can be crisper, the sounds can be sweeter, and the emotions can be deeper.
Travel makes you become more attentive, more observant, more mindful, and most importantly, more compassionate, not only of others, but also of yourself. You’ll learn to love yourself, be more attentive to what you need to feel alive, and how you can use that renewed energy to make breakthroughs in your life as well as the lives of others.
Travel is like being in love; you’re excited about every day, curious about what awaits you, and passionate about every moment. The great travel author, Pico Iyer, described it best in his essay, “Why We Travel”:
And if travel is like love, it is, in the end, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.
Even if you find the courage to travel with kids, you’ll still have your doubts. Fear has many ways of keeping you in your comfort zone. She’ll say you’re too busy, you could never afford the trip, you cannot take the kids out of school, you cannot be away from work for that long, you can be more adventurous when the kids are older, you need to see your parents every holiday break, and you can wait until you’re retired to really travel. Then fear takes over and that’s all you can think about. Fear distracts you from living and taking any action. She’ll say, “Be safe. Be responsible. Stay home.”
Years will pass of inaction and regrets, and then something or someone will jolt you out of your sleepwalking. You’ll finally wake up to realize that the world is too big to not see and experience as much of it as possible. You’ll realize that sharing the world with your kids is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your children. It’s like your financial advisor says about your retirement account: investing earlier is better than investing more later in life because of the benefits of compound interest. The payoff is much bigger when you travel earlier in life rather than later, and exponentially compounded when you take your kids with you.
Traveling doesn’t make you less fearful, it makes you more tolerant of your fears. You know how to face it, how to handle it, and what to do with it. You use fear to your advantage. You keep fear as your guide as to what you should be pursuing most. Fear lives in your gut.
Trust your gut and follow your fears.
Traveling is the best investment you can make in yourself, your marriage, your children, and your family. Embrace being uncomfortable, follow your curiosity, and do things that excite you.
Keep your love for life going by traveling with your kids, early and often.