Sitting around and thinking about why we travel is not something we do often. Usually it just comes to us in moments of clarity, and it still makes us go “ah-ha!” In one particular moment, we realized Avalon and Largo are growing up faster than we had ever anticipated. Everyone says it goes by at lightning speed, but you never feel that way when you are knee-deep in diapers and sleepless nights. Then, one day you wake up and you realize your time with them is half over. The day we had this awakening was the day we committed to making our travel dream a reality. And we have never looked back.
Top 5 Reasons Why We Travel
We had five reasons for wanting to travel with the kids when we left the United States three years ago. They are the same five reasons we continue to travel today.
1. We want to spend enormous amounts of time with Avalon and Largo for the remainder of their childhoods
When Avalon was born, I went to my employer at the time and asked for a modified work schedule. I wanted to work longer hours and fewer days to minimize my commute time and maximize my time with her. I lived in Los Angeles and the traffic was crazy. The company said no. I was scared to death to start my own business, but I knew it was necessary if I wanted more time with her. Over the following years, I was often confronted with great opportunities that I turned down, because they were not in line with my goal of spending as much time as possible with our children. I even came up with a killer business idea that to this day I still love, but it was one of those ideas that would have required me to be away from home 15 hours a day for 7 days a week. I could never love any idea that much, unless of course I could do it from home, enter WorldTowning.
Even after passing up several cool (but time-consuming) business opportunities, we still felt like our life was pretty laid out for us. We were not getting enough time with our kids. They were overscheduled, over homeworked and overtired most of the time. We could only see this increasing as the years passed on. We were keenly aware that one day, not too far away, we would wake up to an empty house and wonder where the time went. And, that scared us to death, but that was not the clincher. For us, the deal-breaker was after we spent a summer in Paris. Avalon turned nine that summer. We did the math and knew her time in our home was half done. We had to act fast. As soon as we returned to Boston, we began putting our 12-month plan for our travel dream into action.
It was the best decision ever. We have shared so many incredible moments, emotions and adventures in the last three years that I am confident would not have happened in our previous overscheduled, overcommitted life. Our time is the greatest gift we can give our children. I am just glad we realized it before it was too late.
2. We value education and feel that learning through travel is priceless
We are readers, researchers, creators, explorers and voracious learners. We believe education and travel have the power to change so much in our world. And, when you put the two together, you get to take education to a whole new level.
Our desire to travel and educate at the same time was not fueled by a dislike for our situation in the United States. Our kids were in an amazing international school in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We had it all: diversity, language (French/English), great education, passionate teachers, whole-child approach, etc., but it came with a lofty price tag. We knew that we could not sustain the tuition for the long-term. Thus, we identified what we loved most about the school and came up with alternatives that would mimic the experience. The conclusion was to travel and educate. It was a great decision. AvaLar (as we call them collectively) gets the diversity and language, all while experiencing the different cultural nuances, and practicing kindness and empathy for those different from them. In and through that, both have learned how to stretch themselves beyond their comfort zones.
Along the way, they have experienced many different schooling paths. They have been worldschooled (homeschooling with a global approach). They have enrolled in private Spanish/French schools in Ecuador and Costa Rica, and in public schools in France. In addition, they have learned at museums, on tours, at farms, with locals, on buses and much more. The learning opportunities while traveling are endless. Instead of reading about ruins, the holocaust or Hiroshima, they have visited the locations and learned at the sites of world news.
3. We want them to have an epic, out-of-the box childhood
For us this has meant travel. What is it for you? Find it and do it before it is too late.
We wanted to create a childhood that they would look back on and appreciate. A childhood that would show them how to fight for their beliefs, dream big and live authentically. We believed travel could best accomplish that for our family. A childhood that did not pattern a norm, but branched into the unknown and made their time with us magical. We decided that epic would mean trying new foods, having grand adventures, pushing our bodies to do hard things, learning about other religions, experimenting with language, plus developing empathy through seeing and giving back. Epic also meant spending as much time with them as possible. We want them to remember their time with us as one where they came first, and we always had time for them.
4. We want to expose them to real-world experiences and people who live differently from us
As much as we loved our school in the United States, we felt it did not give an accurate enough depiction of the world at large. Frankly, we don’t believe any school does. Since the children will need to function in the real world sooner than later, we wanted to let them practice as much as possible in a variety of situations, languages and cultures. We wanted them to learn by seeing and doing, rather than reading about it or watching it on TV. There is a big difference between reading about how chocolate is made and actually making chocolate. The same goes for watching a documentary on people hiking the Inca trail, as opposed to getting out there and doing it – feeling the altitude in your lungs, the rain on your face and the slippery rocks under your hiking boots. We have been lucky to find many people along the way willing to share what they have learned or what they know with the kids, so they can have these real-world experiences.
One of my favorite travel benefits is still (to this day) to interact with those who live differently from us. I consider this one of the top five gifts this travel life has given them. The kids know that most of the world does not necessary live how we live; thus, they are not growing up in a bubble. In addition, they have learned that just because someone lives different from us, it does not mean that it is “not normal.” It is their normal and just different from our normal.
5. We want to invest in making memories and building relationships, instead of buying stuff
We were never a big consuming family, even when we lived in the United States; however, we consume even less now. Frankly, I had no idea we could consume less, but we do.
We don’t worry about what we are wearing and if it is in fashion. There is no shame in wearing items two days in a row or with a rip. We don’t decorate the home or buy toys. We make what we travel with work for us, and, if it breaks, we replace it. And, then we use the money we would spend on “stuff” for memory building. We take the time to have adventures and build stronger relationships with the people we love.
Will and I have made a lot of sacrifices to provide AvaLar with this childhood experience. It has not been an easy path, but one we are glad we took. We all have our “whys” for how we raise our children, and they may not be the same. But, I am sure we can all respect each other’s choices once we know the “why.” So, tell me, what is your “why” for how you are raising your children?
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Can you tell we love to travel?
Have a great day!