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The reason I travel with my kids

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Vagabond Kids: The reason I travel with my kids

Monday, March 29, 2010

The reason I travel with my kids

I have been thinking about this post for a while. There are plenty of reasons to take kids with you when you travel. The "vacation" of course. Maybe the fact is that there is no other choice, if you go, they have to go to. Or maybe it is the kids want to go to Disney, Universal, San Diego and you the reluctant parent are dragged along. You name it.
Photo of the Lion Dance at our Condo in Singapore.

But there are other reasons as well. For me I remember those special trips I took with my family, trips to Mexico when I was in 6th grade. The trip to the continental divide in the Canadian Rockies. The trip to the Grand Canyon that I was not allowed to go on....(a story for another day for sure!) But why do I feel it is so important for my kids to travel?

Batik Painting at the Craft's Complex in Kuala Lumpur

For me, it is really all about growth. Of course, the kids grow and learn with each visit. The fact that the latest trip exposed them to not one, but two, UNESCO World Heritage sites means little to them now but when they look back on the places they have been it will register. It will touch them, it will make them a better rounded more world-centric people. It will show them what lucky children they are, how they can make the world better and how happiness is not found in the biggest house on the block or the most expensive new toy but in the life long pursuit of knowledge, peace and sharing.
Of course that is all the obvious benefit of traveling with the kids. But, that is not what I was thinking about recently. I was thinking about how I benefit from this travel with my kids.

UNESCO World Heritage site: Prambanan
Four days with long nights in Yogjarkarta with early mornings starting at 4:30 due to the calls to prayer being bellowed across the city at 140 decibels on the loudspeaker. Hot temperatures, not enough food to eat at breakfast, grumpy spouses, pushy sales people and ugly tourists showing why travel should not be about the almighty dollar (or Ruble). All of these are tools to learning. Tools to patience (my personal weakness) tools to understanding and tools to peace. Okay, not to sound all hippy dippy on you all, but I opened up again so much on this trip. Watching the kids experience something amazing and remembering how much certain things stick to you at that age. Watching them take in all of the nasty little inconvenience that we worry so much about and having it roll right off their back. Watching my spouse get upset about if and how much the kids ate because it was too different-only to laugh the next day when the Sup Butut was the only thing they wanted to eat and the Ayam Goreng was all they could talk about. Watching Kiera come up with a video diary of her trip (which I will edit and post later!) were all amazing growth experiences for me. I learned so much about being a better person, a better mom, a better world citizen.

The slide at the Marriott Hotel in Miri, Sarawak (Borneo) Malaysia
I love watching the kids feel themselves out as they grow to understand the world. Watching them question things like why Americans are so upset at the President/Congress or why people get into wars and then thinking about that in the context of the fact that certain kids in Indonesia don't have enough food to eat. Traveling with the kids is really a very selfish endeavor for me. I learn and grow so much each time. Now, don't get me wrong. It is not all sunshine and roses. Remember the fact the statement "nothing looks good and I refuse to eat"? Yeah that happens too. But it is no different than cooking Mac and Cheese at home and having them declare they wanted PB&J instead. Each day parenting is a growth opportunity, but there are just so many amazing lessons to be learned in this big world.

So, here we are just back from our most recent trip and I am already looking at the calendar. Wondering if time and money will allow another short hop with the kids before we go to the States for the long summer holiday this year. I am ready for another selfish trip-that is for sure.



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