My husband and I had the wanderlust before we met. He had lived and studied in Zurich, Switzerland, after college; I had lived and studied in Venice, Italy, during college. We each took the opportunity while in Europe to travel the Old World. He learned German, I learned Italian, and we traveled, getting around the continent bilingually, with scraps of French or Spanish thrown in every so often.
We stayed in youth hostels and traveled by rail. We learned the cost and time-saving benefits of popping down the cabin seats to form a makeshift bed and waking up the next morning in a new country. We understood the Thomas Cook timetable so well that we could jump off a train on one platform and catch a train on another in seconds before its departure. We were able to recognize nuanced changes in architecture and landscape as the scenery rushed by outside the train windows. We slept in dorm style rooms and bunked next to people from every continent.
Through our experiences, we developed confidence, perspective and flexibility. Travel changed us, and we let it.
We met, joined forces and traveled together. We spent our honeymoon on a two-week trip through the Canadian Rockies. We canoed and camped in the Okefenokee Swamp; we took a 10-day rafting trip on the wild Tatshenshini River in Canada and Alaska. We went to the Caribbean for scuba diving and to the mountains for backpacking.
Then we had kids. But that didn’t stop us. Have kids? Will travel.
We plopped our first-born into a baby backpack and took him with us to the Cayman Islands, Tortola and Great Britain before he was a year old. I have a “places I have nursed” section in our photo album.
The second child didn’t slow us down much, either; we could work with a 1:1 ratio. With the birth of twins, however, the number of offspring grew exponentially, and our style was under the threat of being cramped. So we busted out of the box: we packed up our whole crew and moved to Europe.
We lived, worked and went to school in Munich, and we traveled the continent by planes, trains and minivans. Our children joined us in navigating transit stations, deciphering schedules and translating. They learned to pull their own weight (literally), all of them toting their own backpacks and rolling suitcases. They became comfortable in new environments and became independent travelers in their own right.
Then they grew and went even further afield, always making an effort to learn the language, appreciate the culture, and respect the people of their host country.
One studied in Lebanon and Russia, navigating the souk in Byblos and the bridges of St. Petersburg. One lived and studied in Chile, taking university courses in Spanish. The younger two are becoming proficient in languages, in anticipation of their own future travels.
Our children have developed perspective, grown in confidence and learned flexibility.
Because travel changes you, if you let it.