It seems logical to follow up a blog about myself and my initial interest in travel with a blog about what now motivates me to travel with three kids in tow. Yes, it would be so much easier to leave them behind with Gamma and Papi, but where’s the fun in that?
We live in a fairly small town on the shores of Lake Michigan that is about as diverse as a vanilla wafer. We call it “The Bubble”. Don’t get me wrong, we love it here. There are families from different ethnic backgrounds and religions, but the majority have pretty similar looks and values.
That’s not for lack of trying. Our public schools offer multiple language opportunities and cultural experiences from a Mandarin Immersion program, to Spanish, French, Latin from grades second through eight, adding on German at the high school. Now that I think of it, that does make us quite diverse, doesn’t it?
Our first trip abroad with a child in tow was when our oldest was 9 months old. In hindsight, that trip was more for us than him, but the point we were trying to make to our friends and family was that having children was not going to stop us from seeing the world.
Now, there are six feet that walk beside us on every journey. Have there been long, excruciating plane trips with inconsolable children? Oh yeah. Those were good times. Somehow you forget those moments when you think about all the great reasons to bring your kids with you.
My favorite part of traveling with my kids is seeing the world through their eyes. It is never how we see it as adults. I will never forget walking into the market in Barcelona called La Boqueria and their eyeballs almost popping out of their heads. The place touches every sense known to man. It is true sensory overload. The vibrant colors of the fresh produce and flowers, the sumptuous smells of baked goods, the chatter of vendors across the stalls. My kids stood with their mouths wide open, taking it all in…until they saw the sign that said “Smoothies” and they made a beeline straight for it. So maybe they don’t always see it how we want them to, but you get the point. Children have a unique view of the world and traveling with them teaches us to appreciate their perspective.
Travel is also a marvelous opportunity to teach kids outside of the classroom. The teacher in me has always believed that kids learn best when they can actually have a hands on experience with history. Traveling has provided them with this opportunity over and over again. We take them to museums, castles, gardens, and one off roadside attractions. We always try to make a point of finding a teaching moment at each attraction. Walking through the ruins of Pompeii, the boys were part of a world frozen in time. They walked through the villas, sat in the baths, took in the expansiveness of the amphitheater. But you can’t tell the kids they are actually learning. That would ruin the entire experience.
The reason we travel is to shows our children what real life is about. We don’t even have to travel very far to see this in action. The poverty that exists in the world, the hardships that some families face, the neglected buildings people call home. Our hope is that by seeing and experiencing these things, our kids will truly appreciate all that we have. How fortunate we are to be able to do what we do. We get to see the world, to give to others when we travel, and to share with others upon our return. This is why we travel with our kids.