It’s a question that’s often been posed to me: why do you travel so much? Don’t your kids get unsettled?
Unsettled? Me, maybe, not them.
I think through all the reasons not to travel: cost (traveling with kids over the age of 2 is expensive!), the inconvenience, the jetlag, the glaring intolerant passengers on planes, and think that it’s a fair question.
I travel with my kids because unlike many people, I don’t think there is one “best” country – I think every city, every nook and corner of the world has something special to offer and you will miss it if you don’t bother to look. And yes, the internet is a great source of information, but it’s like eating a “virtual” dinner at El Bulli – how do you truly experience the wonder without touching, tasting, smelling it for yourself? That’s why I travel with my kids, so they will be able to visit a third world country and see beyond just the poverty and despair, to the wealth and beauty that reveals itself only to eyes that want to see.
I travel with my kids so they truly learn to appreciate diversity, not in the way we give it lip service today by being “PC”, but by being respectful, and asking questions, and coming from a place of genuine interest, rather than of pre-formed assumptions. It’s a different kind of education. I want them to learn that Chinese people eat with chopsticks, and Indian people eat with their hands, and Mexicans eat everything with tortillas, and you should try in every culture to do as the locals, because unsurprisingly, that’s how the food tastes best.
I travel with my kids because I want them to be flexible, to try anything once, and to never be hindered by a fear of the unknown. From the time they were babies, they’ve slept anywhere, eaten anything, and adapted to new locations and cultures faster than I have. I am sure this agility will hold them in good stead personally, professionally, wherever they end up as adults. Can you imagine how liberating that would be?
I travel with my kids because it’s amazing to see them marvel at gigantic structures in Las Vegas, collect volcanic rocks in Sicily, and dance to Māori beats in New Zealand. As adults, we adopt an air of superiority, as if we are too cool to stare in wonder, too composed to clap our hands and squeal in delight. Travelling with kids you can’t help but participate and when you do, you truly experience. So some of this is for me as well.
I travel with my kids because there is a high a price to be paid for ignorance today. We are all interconnected by a shrinking world, by pervasive technology and unrestricted information flows. If we don’t create a generation of unprejudiced, exposed, and culturally aware global citizens, we have sorely failed in our job as parents.
So for those of you who asked, that’s why I travel with my kids.