One of my favorite reads this summer has been Tsh Oxenreider's At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe. If you aren't familiar with this new release, it follows Tsh's family (herself+husband+3 kids) as they travel through countries, continents, and cultures over the course of nearly a year. I found it both fascinating and inspiring. It answered a lot of questions that I had about traveling with kids and gave me the courage to think confidently about our own future travel journeys.
I have 3 kids who are, like any parent of multiple children knows, very different. In terms of "travel personality": I have one Voyager child with an insatiable appetite for adventure and learning. He would leave to go anywhere at a moment's notice. He's flexible, adaptive, and generally restless at home.
I also have one hard-core Homebody. He, unlike his older brother, does not like change and would prefer to never leave the comfort of his home. When we are traveling he will often ask when we are going back home and how much longer we have to stay "here"- wherever "here" is at that moment. The outside world is unpredictable, but home is a safe and secure place for him- his base, his center.
And then I have one To-Be-Decided kiddo. She loves all things new and exciting, but is also domestic and comfortable at home. It will be fun to see how she develops.
Traveling with these three unique personalities is no walk-in-the-park and, up until recently, hasn't been something we have a done a lot of. (Traveling with babies/toddlers can be brutal) But the older they get, the more I want them to learn the rhythms of traveling and all of its great benefits (see previous post).
I am NO expert on this topic. I am constantly watching and learning from others, but I do know this:
One of my greatest desires for my children is that they will be lifelong learners who are comfortable interacting with a wide variety of individuals in a wide array of settings. And I whole-heartedly believe that traveling is one of the very best way to cultivate these qualities. I see this lived out in the people and families that I admire most.
So, are we ready for a trip across Europe? No way. Not even close. But, like most things, the more you travel the better you get at it. We are starting small around here. Beach trips. Short trips to see baseball games. Disney. Long weekends in a city. Cruises. And hopefully one day we will be ready for that big, beautiful international trip. Fingers crossed.
I've been thinking about travel lately. Why we do it. What it creates in us. And why I want my kids to experience it.
I've loved to travel since I was a little girl. We traveled a great deal throughout my childhood- to the extent that when I was asked to join a competitive swim team at 7 or 8 years old (my one shot at ever "playing" a sport) I was forced to decline because "we traveled too much during the summer".
As I got older, I was always the kid up for a spontaneous trip- anytime, anywhere, any place. If you had asked me to list my hobbies, you would have found traveling (along with reading) at the top of the list every time.
Fast forward to adulthood when responsibilities (jobs, kids, finances...) began to take over and we were forced to press down hard on the travel brakes. But now, as our kids have gotten older (no more nursing! no more diapers!) and we have a little more flexibility in our schedules, the travel bug has started to bite again.
I've spent time recently reflecting on the WHY behind traveling. Why spend money on it? Why explore new places? Is is really worth it?
Here are a few of the reasons that traveling is becoming a priority for our family:
-It gives us a glimpse of the beauty God created
-It helps us in becoming lifelong learners
-It allows us to have an appreciation for different types of cultures and "ways of being"
-Perhaps most importantly- travel is a reminder that the world is SO much bigger than us. So much bigger than the egocentricity of our small, everyday lives.
As I rode a very crowded subway in New York last month, and as I tried to calm the personal-space-conscious side of me (so much touching, so many smells), I reminded myself that ALL of these people were created in the image of our Almighty God. Every last one of them. Every skin color, every facial feature, every personality reflects a part of our Creator.
Traveling gives us unexpected gifts. An appreciation for the world outside of ourselves- our problems, our complaints, our comfort-zones- might be the greatest one.