Bonjour friends. Today, I am reflecting and thinking about how we thought travel changed us, as we embarked on our WorldTowning life three years ago. As I now realize, our thoughts were incredibly shallow and naive. At the time, we had no idea how much we would change and in what areas. I have learned that the best catalyst for change is to learn through experience instead of through words. We have seen and done a lot with the kids. Their exposure to things in the world has allowed them to change and grow, on their own, authentically, from their first-hand experiences, not from our lectures. Now, the real question is, what will this list look like in three more years? Will I look back on this time and say we were naïve and shallow? Probably. I welcome our continued growth and change inspired by travel.
How Travel Changed Us
In no particular order, the Top 9 reasons in how we feel travel has changed us.
1. We have more compassion
I put this at the top of the list because to me it’s incredibly important. I am pleasantly surprised at how we have grown into more compassionate human beings through WorldTowning. The ability to look at a situation unlike your own and respond with compassion is a trait that is undervalued. When we started out traveling, it was important for us to teach our kids compassion toward others through seeing the plight of mankind. After spending two years in developing countries, I’m proud of the fact that my children do not walk by homeless individuals on the street with no regard. They give them money, see their struggles and talk to them with understanding. They’ve developed compassion. We are not rich; however, we always have enough change or some extra food to share with someone in need. Do we still have more to learn about compassion? Absolutely. We are works in progress, but, the more we travel, the better we get at it.
2. We think differently about diversity
When we lived in the U.S., it was very important to us that we lived in areas with diverse populations. If we were going to live a stationary life, we wanted to be intentional in exposing our children to people of different races, religions, cultures, sexual orientations and more on a daily basis. Now that we travel and live in different countries, we still want them to have powerful cultural experiences, wherever we happen to be. For this reason, we don’t seek areas that have a lot of Americans. We’ve already had that experience. We want AvaLar to have new experiences with other cultures, and, to do that, the less diverse the area, the richer the cultural experience. As a result, our children now have friends from many different countries across the globe. They are not just exposed to diverse cultures, they embrace them. I think these global friendships are great for global alliances and understanding. The world needs more kids becoming friends with kids from other countries.
3. We see with our eyes wide open
We are not living as before – going through the motions of the daily rat race (for the most part). Thus, we walk and SEE what is around us. We take it all in: we stop, we watch, we listen and then we discuss. Life was so busy for us in the U.S., that we seldom took the time to simply stop and see – with our eyes wide open. It is truly amazing what you can learn when you are silent and simply watch and listen to the things around you.
We are on a quest to live a mindful existence. Some days we are really good at it. Other days, we fail miserably, but we continue to grow and change.
4. We have grown closer as a family
Our family has grown incredibly close over the past three years. We have learned some amazing conflict-resolution skills, developed an understanding of each other’s wants and needs, enjoyed jokes only our family would get, and much more. We are a team, and we’re getting darn good at being a team. Where one person leaves off, another can easily continue seamlessly. When one person is hurt, another is there to pick them up. And when one person is joyous, we are all there to share in this amazing happiness. We have come a long way as a family, and I look forward to what the future holds.
5. We give more
When we lived in the U.S., we would give to large organizations and school-sponsored programs that would then give the money to specific groups. Now that we are traveling, we still give, but it happens in a different capacity. We are fortunate enough to physically see the individuals benefiting from our giving. We now know those to whom our money, time and efforts go, and that gives us great satisfaction. Also, we have become more generous with our pocket change. We travel to developing countries, and many of the people we pass on the streets do not have money for food. We have learned to share what we have – be it food or change – with individuals who clearly need it more than we do.
6. We have a greater understanding of the world
I am a huge fan of reading, but the type of learning that takes place on the ground in these developing countries is far different from that which you read on the pages of a book. When you can touch, smell, see and feel the ways of the world in a new country, your understanding of that area is heightened tremendously. We have finally hit a point where I can see the global mindedness in our children, and it is glorious to watch it unfold.
7. We are grateful
Our family has so much for which to be grateful. We have been able to bring our dreams to fruition, spend copious amounts of time together as a family, live the epic life we defined, have amazing health, and enjoy love from family/friends. I can honestly say that I wake up every day grateful for the life we have. It’s taken a lot of hard work to get to this point, but we recognize we are also very lucky to have the freedoms and choices in life that many people do not have across the globe. There are a lot of big conversations about appreciating what we have in life (and I am not talking about material possessions) in our WorldTowning family. The overall energy that travels with us is gratitude, all the way down to the kiddos. The more we travel, the more grateful they become.
8. We need and want less
We travel with very little and we still live a fulfilling life. In today’s world, where over-consumption is prominent, it’s so nice to live a minimalist life. Our children have learned to value people and experiences over material possessions. When we left the U.S., they could bring three small (zip lock) bags of toys with them. They are able to make do with what we have, use their imaginations to create and go on adventures. These things bring such joy to their lives; they forget about traditional toys until one is gifted to them by a visiting relative.
9. We don’t tolerate racist comments
Before we left the U.S., I didn’t speak up when I heard racist comments, even though I found them hateful,, I would sit silently, because I wanted to keep the peace. Not anymore. If someone says something racist, I speak up. I don’t want my kids to see me sitting back, “saying in my head” that these comments are wrong, but doing nothing. I know it’s not comfortable to call someone out; however, I address it. The more we travel, the more we see that we are all the same at the end of the day. Children, mamas, daddies and grandparents across the world are all people with myriad similarities. They may speak different languages or adhere to different religious views, but, in the end, we all have something in common. Our children will be the generation to create change and spread the love to all. They’re learning their views about other cultures from us (their parents), and we need to be held accountable for equal treatment.
Travel Will Continue to Change Us
Honestly, this list could go on and on. We are very much a work in progress as a family. Each day, we grow and are changed by travel. I don’t think we will ever hit the stopping point of being changed by this WorldTowning experience. The more we learn and know, the more I realize how little we know. I am humbled daily in this season of our life.
These are some of the top ways WorldTowning has changed us. How have you experienced change through travel?
Have a fabulous day.