I was covered in goosebumps when our plane landed in London in September of 2007. I had always wanted to study at Harlaxton (my university’s study-abroad program) but was not able to due to financial circumstances beyond my control (that story is another post for another time). Since missing out on that opportunity (my husband missed out on it, too), I had been dreaming of going to Europe on our own. Right after we got married, we bit the bullet, bought the plane tickets, and never looked back. On the overnight flight we took to London, I didn’t sleep a wink and was completely and utterly exhausted by the time we landed, but my adrenaline was so high that it got me through a good part of the day before I crashed. I’m actually pretty sure I cried when the plane landed on British soil and it gets me a little teary-eyed even thinking about it now. (I know, I’m a dork.)
Lots of people have asked me why I spend my time planning (and taking) trips to Europe when there is so much to see in the good old US of A. I agree that there is so much to see here in the United States, but there is also so much more outside of the United States. There is nothing that compares to the feeling of being outside of your comfort zone in a foreign country, especially when you don’t speak the language. Because my family essentially came from Europe, as did so many of our traditions, it is awesome to see how they began and how America came to be what it is today.
Another question I get a lot is why we would ever take a small child (or children) to Europe. Yes, I know this is crazy, and I know it’s not for everyone, so I’m not suggesting that everyone should be doing this. It is definitely not as cheap as if we just stayed in the US and it can be stressful. But when talking to another parent I know, she mentioned that by taking our children to Europe, we are making the world accessible to them. I really like that idea.
I want our children to know there is a whole world out there and that people are different, but in some ways the same, all over the world.
I want our children to never take for granted what we have here in the United States and to feel proud to be an American.
I want our children to view people of other cultures as equals even if we live differently.
I want our children not to be afraid to explore places they are interested in and to have exceptional experiences while travelling.
I want our children to be able to navigate their way around any part of the world they might happen to be in and to not be fearful of the language barrier.
Yes, there are definitely ways to instill all these things in our children without taking them to Europe, but we have certainly been blessed to be able to let them experience some of these things hands-on.
For more about why we (and other people) travel,
check out this post about the topic.