It has been commonly said that you only fully learn to appreciate your parents after you have had your own children. For me, this has proven true. It is now that I see how much work it is being a Mother. It is rewarding, yes, but also a huge sacrifice. It has opened my eyes to how much my parents gave and how little I often deserved. The time, money, gifts, and love that they freely gave to an often-unappreciative child now completely humbles me. The temper tantrums and bratty rolling of the eyes alone deserved far less than I was given. They gave me abundance and as I reflect on all the gifts that they gave, one of the most important has been the gift of travel.
I grew up in Midwest America with two sisters, a stay at home mother, and an Ophthalmologist father. We were lucky enough to take a trip together at least once a year. In addition to these travels, my father often gave two weeks of his time to visit a third world country with a medical organization that provided free cataract surgery to the poor. When I was fourteen years old he invited me to join the team and it changed me forever. On our way to Africa I had been preoccupied with fashion, friends, and boys. On the way back home, my mentality had completely changed. My worldview had, for maybe the first time, moved beyond the United States and certainly well beyond my comfortable suburban hometown. Everything was different and it was certainly for the better.
Ever since that trip to Africa I have been obsessed with travel and experiencing other cultures. I have had the opportunity to travel the world and to also live in another country as I currently reside in London with my husband and son. I am blown away at how competitive the schooling is here and as I think about education, I can't imagine a better way to educate my child than to show him the world. As the world gets smaller and global business expands, our children will benefit by having a competitive edge. Providing experiences for your children to travel and discover the world will give them that.
Living in Europe, I have been pleased to find that our peers seem to live with far less material items but having traveled more on average than those in America. It encourages me to choose to own less and arguably live more fully. I want to give this gift of travel to my children. I am not talking luxury beach holidays, as great as they are and as certainly well deserved as they may be for the parents, but I am talking about travel in a purer form. Travel as a means of discovery, growth, and education. Travel as the catalyst for connecting on a deeper level with those you journey with and with those living in the communities you visit. Travel as a means to grow as a person through acts of bravery in embracing the unknown. Travel that brings you closer to your family as can only be done when you leave the distractions of home behind and spend quality time with one another. Travel that creates in you a desire to help humanity as you learn to be less self-centered and more focused on others. Travel that provides an education that is richer than any textbook can provide. Travel as a means of character development. Travel in which the trip comes to an end but the impressions and changes within last forever.
My travel consulting company was formed out of this passion for others to experience travel as the gift that it is. It is a life changer both individually and collectively. We don't change by standing still. We do it by blurring the lines of culture. Trips to other countries, even comfortable ones like some of those in Europe, broaden a mind as you experience life outside your own.
I think of this as I pick up all my son's toys and place them in a box that sits under a collage of photos from our travels. My son will likely forget every one of these toys, but the memories that we are making together as a family and are hanging on our wall will last.
My Dad and I on a more recent trip to Ethiopia