This is great advice, but if you have children it might feel as though it is easier to hunker down in your shell and be content with where you are. During the first year of motherhood I certainly felt this way. After all, if it took me a solid hour to get myself, my son, the diaper bag packed with snacks, toys and two changes of clothes –one for him and one for me—out of the house for a doctor appointment, how on earth would it be possible to actually take a trip that potentially involved trains, planes, automobiles and a hotel or two. Not possible. Or is it?
Eventually my wanderlust got the best of me and baby or not my little family was ready to hit the road again. It wasn’t easy; the car trip included a stroller, baby backpack and a pack and play plus all of the necessary clothing and essentials you would expect. We looked as though we were moving rather than spending a long weekend away. But the experience was wonderful and whetted our appetites for more travel.
We quickly began planning our next trip and that one didn’t disappoint either. Because we were already living in Europe it was easy to visit many of the world’s great capitals and we fully took advantage of the opportunity. But we quickly discovered that by traveling with a child, we saw parts of the cities that we would never have seen if we were traveling as a couple. We slowed down and spent time discovering the great architecture of the parks and playgrounds of Paris on a spring day rather than spending hours inside of a museum. We turned drinking from Rome’s numerous water fountains a game and discovered beautiful lesser known churches along the way. And we discovered that playing hide and seek along the glistening and winding white marble streets and alleys of Dubrovnik’s walled city center is more fun than any amusement park.
As adults, our travel often takes us out of our comfort zone but it has made me realize that children don’t have such limitations. I remember sitting on a restaurant patio in Bulgaria trying to decipher the Cyrillic writing on the menu while my son played with another nearby. As he offered his favorite yellow matchbox car to the boy I realized that their common language was childhood. Nothing else mattered as the two little boys played their game. The same held true a few months later on a Greek beach and then later when my four year old suddenly found himself in a Belgian pre-school surrounded by French speakers. He quickly adapted and assimilated.
Traveling has made my family citizens of the world and that is something that will stay with us for a lifetime. We’ve visited places that I had only read about in textbooks and I have loved sharing our world’s history with my inquisitive son. Trips to the library have turned into hunts for books describing where we’ve been and quests for finding new places to visit.
And over the past few years as we our travel bucket list has continued to grow. For every one place we cross off two more seem to be added. The entire family now contributes to our wish list of places to visit and those we want to return to yet again. We’ve lightened our loads significantly and now get away with little more than a backpack apiece. But the pictures we have of our adventures and the stories we can share--those are truly priceless. They are memories that will last a lifetime. And that is why we travel.