I still remember as if it was yesterday the first day my daughter traveled. She was bundled up and her dad carried her as if she was a precious package. She didn’t cry during the whole flight and most people didn’t even realize she was on the plane, but for her that trip was the beginning of one of her passions which has impacted her life beyond our imagination. She was two weeks old. My son’s experience was similar, but instead of a plane ride his first taste of travel was a bumpy road trip the day after he was born since the nearest hospital was far away from our home.
The gift of traveling continued. We moved to several countries, tried interesting foods, met amazing people who lived very differently from us. We learned new customs, appreciated the beauty of nature and loved every minute of it, even the sleepless nights due to jet lag, the many layovers, and the packing and unpacking. Making new places our home had its challenges, like finding a new school every year or so and making new friends, but we loved it all because we knew that our lifestyle was not common and it was a gift that we were grateful to receive. We wanted to savor the season and enjoy it fully.
If new parents ask me for advice, traveling with children is what I always tell them. That, and teach your child to eat everything, to be flexible, to appreciate differences, to think outside the box, to make a difference, to live in the moment… which again relates all to traveling. I can’t explain how traveling has positively impacted our family, how it has gotten us closer, how it has given us a different perspective, and how it has taught us to go with the flow when necessary. The best memories are created when the carefully planned itinerary fails and life happens. I won’t forget after a long flight to India late at night, on our way to Nellore our car broke down and even though we couldn’t see anything around us, we just couldn’t stop staring at the brightest stars we had ever seen. Or when we took a group of friends to Colombia and because of all the flight delays we had to travel in the middle of the night from Barranquilla to Cartagena, we were tired and a little worried, but the bonding that happened during that road trip was priceless. The most beautiful photos are not the ones you take by the famous buildings around the world, but the ones that will take you back to a precious memory and make you smile.
My children grew, and so did their love for traveling. We just got back from a trip to Colombia with my children and a group of new friends, because when you discover something you love, you share it. Nikka and Andrei are no longer the small toddlers who needed entertainment for hours during long trips, they are young adults who love to travel alone, with friends and with their mom and that makes my heart smile. Trips don’t have to be to far away places and they don’t have to cost a fortune, they just need to be, they need to happen, you need to make them a reality, whether it’s a day exploring your city or that trip you have been saving for years. Go out there, explore the world with your children, with your family, on your own or with new friends, it will change your life and it may be exactly what you were looking for.