Travel is probably one of the biggest adventures any of us have in our lives. And there is no greater feeling than when the countdown has ended and the day of departure is upon you. I’ve come to realize that there are few things in life that will impact you so deeply as travel. It’s as if, the minute we leave the familiarity of our city or town, our minds settle and our eyes open for the first time in a long while. The experiences we enjoy while traveling are transforming. We are out of our comfort zones and are forced into awareness.
Life Changing and Soul Satisfying
We all travel for a lot of different reasons … fun, escape, change, excitement, adventure, or maybe just to satisfy that gypsy blood that courses through our veins. But, while the reasons are as varied as the human race, there is one thing that is constant: travel has a profound effect on us and changes the core of who we are.
Travel is the great equalizer. It transcends all the typical social barriers and makes everyone, regardless of social class, color, gender, nationality or whatever, brothers and sisters united in this great big world.
Travelers cannot deny that, while the world is extremely diverse, the people have more in common than they have differences. We all have similar thoughts, needs, fears and desires. We experience joy and pain, love and hate. As parents, we have a common bond in seeking the absolute best for our children.
Full Time Travel
After 4 years of near full time traveling, I can say with certainty that I am not the same person I was when we first set out. My view of the world has drastically changed. As a result, so have my priorities.
“It’s a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what’s changed is you.”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald
When we set out back in 2012, I knew my children would be receiving an incomparable education. What I didn’t expect was the education that befell me. I was a city girl growing up, turned adventurer via my husband Dan. I really thought I had already made my biggest transformation. However, looking back, I cannot believe how much travel has touched my soul and changed me, Dan and our family for the better.
Making New Friends
We honestly have friends in every corner of the continent. Our kids are continuously meeting new people and, thanks to technology, are able to keep in touch. Dan and I are slowly coming out of our introverted skin and turning into semi-extroverts. It’s not unusual to spend 20 minutes at the gas station talking with a complete stranger about their life, their travels and their philosophies! It’s typical to be hanging at the beach and be invited to a BBQ at the lifeguard’s home … and to actually go and make 10 new friends who you meet at the beach the next day for real surf lessons!
We spent a few weeks in Quebec and the owner of the campground spent about 30 minutes per day teaching some of our kids French. And, two of them have a good friend, Tom, a 16-year-old French kid, who they kayak with … the language barrier is nothing to them. They use Google Translate and have downloaded DuoLingo to expedite the learning of French.
It certainly feels like, to a traveler, there are no strangers …
We all have friends or family members who are slaves to their schedules, can’t make a move without checking their calendars and can never ever be spontaneous. Well, traveling changes all of that.
The three constants in travel … nothing ever goes according to plan, everyone is always late and plans change on a dime.
Case in point. We have had a tentative plan to head to Durango, Colorado, but instead got news that the water in Salida, Colorado, was at “optimal flows.” We did a literal about face and are now sitting pretty in Salida. This adaptability is due to our mode of travel, which is via RV!
Spontaneity is our bread of life. We literally don’t have a schedule, we often have zero plans and are always up for anything, so if someone texts and says, “let’s go paragliding,” we 100 percent of the time will pack up and head out.
You Become More Interesting (Seriously)
Life itself is an adventure, I mean, right? It seems like there is always some hurdle to jump through or some problem to solve. And if you’re a parent, Good Grief, you’ve got wild stories to tell, right? No. Not really. You’ll notice your friends and family who don’t have kids, their eyes gloss over when you tell how little Johnny got into the peanut butter and it “was all over.” And your friends who are parents … their kids have done that, and worse.
But travel, Oh my gosh. Think back to your last vacation … those stories, now those stories really have staying power, you can even tell them more than once and they get more interesting, right?
I’m on my third year of telling the story about us blocking traffic for more than one hour because the road we were on literally ended despite the fact that Google Maps showed it intersecting with the highway. Yeah, I was laying on the floor of the RV in total humiliation as the motorists around us got edgier and edgier. Absolutely not funny, but somehow it gets funnier with each passing day.
Ability to Say “Yes”
Now this might sound insane, but this was quite possibly our biggest obstacle. During our first year of travel, we received a lot of press, from the Today Show to Fox News, countless newspaper articles, etc. In certain circles, people thought we were famous. We certainly didn’t and don’t feel that way, we felt more like hermits back then, just wanting to do our own thing and not infringe on anyone’s lives.
As a result, we turned down so many wonderful, kind and incredible offers of hospitality because we felt uncomfortable, like these amazing people were not really fully aware of what they were extending. We were so fearful of feeling like a burden, we didn’t allow ourselves the full immersion experience of travel.
However, about halfway through our second year of travel, we decided to say YES to every invitation that we could feasibly take advantage of. And this is when things drastically changed for us. We started taking people up on their offers, we started integrating more into the communities we visited, we tried their local food, we helped serve through local churches, we participated in local festivities … whatever, we did it and we have lost those inhibitions that plagued us that first year!
Making Memories That Last a Lifetime
Now of course you don’t have to travel to make memories, but the memories you make traveling stand out in a unique way.
For example, I will never forget the 3 am hike to Delicate Arch after a very emotionally devastating miscarriage. Dan, my daughters Kady and Maddy and I left our campsite at 3 am and drove into Arches National Park and hiked up to Delicate Arch to catch the sunrise. This was pivotal in my healing … the setting, the beauty, the rawness of nature, it was, and is, indescribable.
We all have moments while traveling that are highlighted with intense clarity. I’m certain it’s due to the fact that when traveling you are blessed with the gift to slow down and enjoy the moments as they come … something that is nearly impossible in the crazed and hectic norm of daily life.