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on travel, and why it makes me grateful

Right now, we’re winding down our two-week vacation in Paris.  You’re probably imagining that with all the beauty surrounding me right now, I have a lot to be grateful for, and you’re right; however, it’s more than just being in a glamorous city (although that would certainly be enough).

I’m grateful because travel experiences are what I live for.

I mean this in a very intentional, goal-oriented way.  My husband, daughter and I live in a decent neighbourhood in Houston, but our house is very modest.  I drive an old, beat-up, dented Toyota Yaris, (base model, no upgrades other than A/C & automatic transmission).  I don’t buy designer clothes, and never have, preferring discount outlets.  In fact, I generally only splurge on two things:

(1) the occasional purchase of technology for my work — cameras, computers, that sort of thing; which I use in full service of my second splurge …

(2) travel.  As often as possible.

I blame this on my childhood.  When you grow up on a small island, as I did, with parents who love adventure, as my parents did, it means that from a very early age  — infancy, in fact — your parents will ensure that you not only have a passport, but that you use it.  My parents made it their mission to take my sister and I off the island of Trinidad at least once a year.  The distance we traveled from home was directly proportional to the amount of money they had saved in any given year — sometimes it was a quick hop to a neighbouring island, but sometimes it was to someplace more far-flung — but we always went somewhere.

My mother, whose gift is in speaking different languages (she’s fluent in about 5, at last count), encouraged my sister and I to study languages in school (by my high school graduation, I was pretty proficient in both Spanish and French).  Because my parents had studied in England for university, where there was a vibrant international community, every place we went they would be sure to contact their former classmates; and I remember being pen pals with several of their friends’ kids (all of us struggling to communicate in each others’ languages).

Although I certainly enjoyed the travel that we did (outside of the usual teenage angst of spending so much time with your family), I don’t think I realized what a gift they had given us until I was an adult.  It’s because of them that I have very little fear about going — or even living! — anywhere in the world.  It’s because of them I have very little hesitation in learning new languages, even if it’s just to learn enough pleasantries to get around in a whole new country.  It’s because of them that I’ve visited so many different places around the planet, and still have a thirst to visit more.

Even at its most basic, now that I think about it, it’s because of them that I’m married to a Brit, and living in the United States, a country foreign to my own homeland.

As a result, I know that I’m very intentional about raising my daughter in the same manner:  her passport was one of the first official documents I applied for as soon as she was born, and to date, she has already been to 10 countries in her short 8 years.  Happily, she loves travel and she loves adventure — she loves meeting our friends from all over the world, she loves trying new foods (frogs’ legs, FTW!) and may have already made an “email pal” (I guess they don’t call them “pen pals” anymore!) with a French friend’s son here in Paris.  And so, while I’m certainly grateful to Paris for the lovely time we’ve had in this city, I’m grateful to travel in general, and my adventuresome parents (and equally adventuresome husband, Marcus) in particular.

That said, here’s what I’m particularly grateful for on this trip:

 

 

How about you — do you travel a lot?  Why do you love it?  If you don’t travel, do you wish you did more?

________________

Read more from Karen Walrond on Bliss Your Heart and  Chookooloonks
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