Thursday, May 29, 2014

Five Reasons I Travel With My Kids

A few months ago I made a rather significant purchase that I haven’t even enjoyed yet, but that will be “delivered” next week.

I’m not excited about the cost of the purchase (let’s just say it was a lot), but rather the value of it.

It’s kind of like those old Visa commercials (or was it MasterCard?)—

This = $x

That = $x

The other = $x

All in all? Priceless.

That’s kind of how I’m feeling about next week.

Because you just can’t put a price on time spent alone with a daughter, showing her the world, and opening her eyes to some new possibilities.

I’m taking my third and final (*sob*) mother-daughter England trip. (B is secretly happy about this because, truth be told, he’s been wondering if I’d ever take a trip with him again.)

If you’ve been around here for a while, you might remember that I’ve taken this trip with Kate and with Caroline. And this year, since Julia turned 16, it’s her turn.

Back when the girls were very little, one day, on a whim, I said, “Hey, B, wouldn’t it be cool if . . .” I never imagined that that one little comment, that one little dream, would come to fruition. I never imagined that I’d really have the opportunity to do this—take time out with each daughter individually and travel to someplace that I hold dear.

But I have, and I’m so grateful.

You might be reading this and thinking that my travel plans with my daughters seem a little extravagant. I mean, why not just go to, say, Boston, where plane tickets costs a whole heckofalot less?

(Actually, I DID go to Boston with one of my girls this spring. We had a blast.)

(And I went to Grand Rapids with another. Not quite as exciting as London or Boston, but equally thrilling to me to spend a few days of one-on-one time with her.)

So you’re probably wondering, what’s my deal with travel? Why do I sacrifice so much to make it happen? Why do I spend so much time planning trips? Why do I daydream about the next place I’ll go?

Well, it might be partly inherited. My grandfather, Grandpa Earl, retired when he was in his late 50s and spent the next 25 years or so traveling the world with my grandmother. Whenever they came home from a trip, I’d be enamored with their pictures and stories and the trinkets they brought home. It just seemed exotic to think about the country where these gifts were made and the person who may have carved the wood or stitched the textiles.

And every time the stories were told, I’d ask Grandpa Earl where he was going next.

You know what? He always had an answer. My grandfather, world traveler, always had the next destination on his mind.

I loved this! My grandparent’s trips intrigued me, and I wanted to see what was out there for myself.

When I was in college, I had my first chance to peek outside the borders of our own great country when I traveled to England to study. I think I was hooked the minute I touched the ground.

Not just hooked—in love.

Since that first trip, I’ve been to many places across the globe, and there are still many I’d like to see. But my first love is England, and that’s where Julia and I are headed next week.

So, aside from my DNA, what makes me travel? And what, especially, makes me want to show these things to my kids? Why not just stay home on my comfy couch, watching NatGeo documentaries? Why spend all that money when I could save it for a rainy day?

I can think of five good reasons to travel with kids (but I’m sure there are others).

1. Travel exposes us to other people. When I travel, I realize over and over again that not everyone lives like I do and that not everyone believes what I do and that not everyone experiences life like I do. We’re all different, but we all need the same things. 

2. Travel exposes our weaknesses. It’s not always easy to keep pace, even with myself, when I’m on a trip. I want to see it all, experience it all, soak it all in. And so I run from one exciting experience to another. But then I get tired and maybe a little bit crabby. Sometimes I get lost or frustrated. How do I handle the complexities and the exhaustion of travel? Sometimes not so well, but we can learn so much about ourselves when we’re in new (or even stressful) situations.

3. Travel teaches important life skills. Like reading a map. Making a plan. Asking someone for help. Sometimes travel takes us out of our comfort zone, but that’s OK. In the end, realizing that you can make it from Point A to Point B is an important accomplishment. It just might help kids realize they can do other things, too!

4. Travel shows us the majesty of God. Soak in the grandeur of Westminster Abbey, take in the majesty of the Alps, or stand next to the powerful pounding of the Atlantic Ocean and you’ll know what I mean. Everywhere I look, every time I travel, I see God’s hand, and I want my kids to see that, too. God is massively creative, and travel makes me appreciate His creativity more and more.

5. Travel shows us the world’s need. Every time I travel—every time—I come face to face with poverty, both financial and spiritual. And every time I am reminded that the only solution to the garbage that this world spills out is a savior who loves them. It’s astounding to me, really, that Jesus died for the filth of this world, when I see it up close. (Amsterdam, I’m looking at you.) I take my kids places and pray that they catch a glimpse of the needs of the world. Even in the wealthiest of countries there is dire poverty.

I travel because it energizes me and because it helps me see the Creator in new ways. I travel with my kids because I love seeing the world open up right before their eyes.

That, to me, is priceless.

So tell me, where are you going this summer? Leave me a comment!


If you're interested in some additional posts I've written about travel, click here and here to read my "Intentional Parenting" series posts about intentional travel. And here's another post I wrote about traveling with kids called "31 Days Closer to Your Kids: Travel Together."

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  1. You are leaving next week ... I am so excited for you. Let's chat on the phone before you go, please. I miss you.


  2. This is such a great idea! I'm always learning stuff from you! :) So grateful!

    Thanks for sharing and have an amazing trip!

  3. Glenda, YES! I'll call you.

    Thanks, Stacey! So sweet!

  4. Oh those photos.... I am finally getting the travel bug. Unfortunately we've never budgeted for it so it's hard to fit it in now.

  5. What an incredible trip. I am so excited for you and your daughter. I am taking my daughter on a trip as well :). She graduated from high school a couple of weeks ago, and in July she and I are taking a cruise to Turks & Caicos, Dominican Republic, Curacao and Aruba. I can't wait. I love to travel, my husband not so much. So I travel with my kids. Our trips have not been as far away from home as yours, but my kids have been on a cruise to Mexico, traveled Yellowstone Park, Las Vegas, Louisiana, Texas, and in a couple of weeks we're headed to Colorado for a family reunion. I too believe travel is the only thing we buy that makes us richer. And when I travel I always come into contact with people to pray for. Enjoy your trip!!

  6. So happy & excited that you can take this trip together! Making priceless, lifelong memories together is a beautiful thing! Such a sweet tradition with the girls. I'll be praying for your trip, my friend. You are truly blessed!

  7. Just last night, Mark and I made a list of the places we want to take our girls on vacation. My plan was to make a list of 12, because we have 12 summers left with Annalyn before she goes to college. But 12 is not enough!! :) I love what you've done with your daughters. I think I need to say to Mark this weekend, "Wouldn't it be cool if...I took each of our girls to Paris...?" :)