Over the weekend, Pete and I were talking about what triggered our love of travel. For me, it was the opportunity to be an exchange student with Youth for Understanding the summer between my junior and senior years of high school. I spent a wonderful two months based in Oslo, Norway as a guest in the home of the Erickson family.
The Ericksons were kind enough to ensure that I saw a lot of their beautiful country, including the heavenly Sognefjord, and another fjord where the father had resisted the German occupiers during WWII. We spent a week at their farm on the Swedish border, feasting on fresh crawfish and lingonberry preserves in a charming farmhouse kitchen. Years before a chance encounter with a plowshare had yielded buried treasure – an intact viking ship intended to carry its departed VIP into the afterlife. All of this royal Norseman’s accoutrements had been beautifully preserved in the permafrost, and were carefully taken to the Maihaugen in Lillehammer, where I later saw them displayed.
Pete also spent some time away from home during his college years. As part of a student business delegation from St. John’s University, he traveled to Japan, China, Hong Kong and Singapore one memorable summer. Armed with a brand new camera, his interest in photography was whetted. I’m glad he paid attention to what he was eating, as well! Today his repertoire of Asian cuisine is guaranteed to make the weekly menu more interesting.
When my youngest, Robin, was 12, she and I traveled together to Europe. I joked that it would probably be the last time in a long time that she would want to be seen with me. What ensued was the trip of a lifetime. Arriving in Paris, we hit the big attractions – the Louvre, Versailles, Musee d’Orsay, Musee Rodin – rode the riverboats down the Seine, and could see the Eiffel Tower from our window. We took a sleeper car train trip overnight to Munich and hooked up with family. My brother had been an exchange student near Stuttgart and now we introduced a new generation of children to each other. We concluded our trip in Heidelberg, and then returned to Paris to catch our flight home all too soon.
I’ve encountered very few people who don’t like to travel, so that I’m surprised when I actually do. Traveling with our children has always been a pleasure for both of us, and we regret we didn’t do more of it. We think it’s good for kids to see new places, make comparisons, appreciate what they have, and appreciate others for who they are. But more importantly, we think traveling when you’re young unlocks an adventuresome spirit that you can take with you through all facets of your life. To try new things, to take a chance, to minimize the fear of risk, and to be openly curious are all attributes we hope to continuously cultivate in ourselves and in our kids.
What effect has traveling had on you? Did the travel bug bite you when you were young? What memorable trips have you taken with your children, or when you were younger? Are you planning to travel in the near future? What’s your trip of a lifetime? Tell us!