During a Spring Break trip with my family, I watched with amazement as my children traversed stunning rock formations during a hike through caverns underneath San Antonio, TX. I marveled at how fortunate they were to travel and experience things that I only dreamed of when I was their age.
As a child, I was an avid reader. I devoured books, comics and encyclopedias (yes, I read an entire set from A to Z). All of this reading piqued my curiosity about the world around me. I became fascinated with far away places and fantasized about visiting them one day.
Unfortunately, we never had enough money to fund my wanderlust. I grew up in Texas and the farthest we traveled was about 400 miles to my grandparents house in Louisiana.
Feeding the wanderlust
In 10th grade, I had an opportunity to spend the summer in Israel. The organization that was planning the trip agreed to pay my expenses. All I had to do was pack my bags and show up at the airport. Well, my mother wasn’t as excited as I was. She had read about the tensions in the Middle East and wasn’t willing to expose me to any danger. I was disappointed, but this set-back only fueled my desire to see the world when I was old enough to make my own decisions.
When I turned 18, I decided to venture to an out-of-state college even though I had a full scholarship to a local university. Paying for a private college was a struggle, but I cherish every moment because it opened up opportunities for me to meet people from all over the world. Going to college in Washington, DC also gave me easy access to great cities such as New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. I traveled more than I had in my entire life.
Oh, the places you will go
Since then, I have visited and or lived in 33 states and 12 countries. It felt surreal when I was on my first transatlantic flight (it was to London). I was filled with excitement and anticipation. I still get the same feeling every time I take a trip that requires a passport. Although several of these trips have been work related, I always try to take some time to sight-see and learn about the local culture. When I’m exploring a new place, I approach it with the sense of adventure that I had as young boy with a big imagination.
I also use my travels to teach my kids valuable lessons in geography, history, culture and current events. Before I leave, I always mark my destination on our globe and the kids and I research the location on the web. I think my 8-year-old son has already inherited my wanderlust. He talks non-stop about all of the places he wants to visit and is always ready for a new adventure.
The importance of traveling as a family
Although we haven’t had a chance to travel abroad as a family, we’ve visited several parts of the U.S. We’ve seen great landmarks such as The Alamo, The St. Louis Arch, Disney World, and Pike’s Peak. We’ve hiked through mountains, lounged on beaches, watched bats, and slid down sand dunes. And we’ve dined on all types of regional cuisine.
Our family trips have not only allowed my kids to see different things, but they have also given them new perspectives on life. My daughter told me that she can better understand her social studies classes because of our travel experiences.
I encourage everyone to travel and see as much of the world as you can. Technology has made the world a much smaller place, but technology will never replace the feeling of experiencing a destination for yourself.
P.S. – If you’d like to get your kids involved in your family’s travel planning, you should try Cooper’s Packs – Children’s Travel Guides and eBooks.