I love to travel. It is something that has been a huge part of my life since my first trip to Europe at age 16. My parents sent me away on a school trip to travel to four major European cities over about three weeks. As a mother now, I have no idea how they did that; I’m not sure I would be brave enough to send my son on a trip like that today. But what a beautiful gift my parents gave me. My mother said I left as a little girl and returned as a young woman. I remember realizing, “Wow, there is a whole world out there, outside of my high school and all the drama that comes with being a teenager!” It humbled me. I felt blessed to go to a good school and to have the opportunities we have in the United States. It really has stayed with me.
When my husband and I first graduated from college, still just dating at the time, we made a travel list of all the places we wanted to see. With no money and still paying off student loans, we decided to make little sacrifices in our daily life to save for our travels. We had many adventures, stayed in hostels, backpacked, and bounced around checking many of the places off our list. As we got older, we were fortunate enough to take bigger trips to China, Africa and South America. We have always made it a priority to see the world, try new foods and learn about other cultures.
I want to instill a love of travel in my children, as well as an appreciation of where we come from and a respect for those who are different from us. I started a travel list with my husband for our children well before we were married. With each trip we’ve taken, I list a few of our favorite things as recommendations for things our kids must do and see someday. Here is an excerpt:
- Throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain and make a wish–Rome
- Watch the Humpback whales off the Baja California Sur
- See the swans on Lake Zurich
- Cheer at a Brazilian soccer (futbol) game
- Drink Chianti in Florence
- Drive over the sand dunes in the Dubai desert
- Kayak with manatees in Captiva
- Visit the Chinese panda
- Enjoy Sangria on Las Ramblas, Barcelona
- See Africa’s “Big 5” on an African safari
- Kiss someone you love under the Eiffel Tower–Paris
My list has grown to more than four pages long, listing everything from “Walk the Golden Gate Bridge” to “Ride an elephant in Thailand.” My husband and I plan on giving it to each of our children as they graduate from high school to inspire them to start on their own adventures. I believe if you have a passion for something, you should share it with your children. For me, it is travel; for others it may be sports, music or cooking. Maybe they won’t be inspired by the same things you are, and that’s ok. But maybe you’ll spark a common interest and help expand their horizons.
When my first son was born, I placed a framed Dr. Seuss saying in his room: “Oh, The Places You’ll Go.” I hope he is able to see the world and maybe, just maybe, he’ll change it for the better! That is my dream for him.