How Family Travel Can Change Your Life

family at Ek Balam

Is travel a necessity in your life Mama?

It certainly is for me and my family.

I know some people (maybe you?) will say that travel is a luxury, but I want to challenge that belief. I will even go one step further and say that travel is actually necessary for families. Not only that, but I truly believe that travel can be attainable for just about everyone. 

First of all, we live in a beautiful, amazing world. Yes, that’s right, I said it. I’m not an ostrich with my head in the sand ignoring all of the problems of the world. I am fully aware of war, discrimination, racism, poverty, disease, famine and so much more (even in my own town). If you consumed all of the media out there, you would think the world is a scary place to venture out into.

But I know better. I know that the world isn’t just about crime, illness and misery. I know there are many joyful lessons to be learned from traveling, if only you are willing to take the plunge. Plus, travel can actually improve your life in a plethora of ways. 

As a child, vacation always meant traveling to a different location, such as Florida (a common spot for Ohioans), California, the beaches of Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach, even Australia (to meet my grandmother’s family). My family was not wealthy, but travel was a priority. We didn’t have fancy cars or an expensive house, but we always managed to go somewhere on vacation. I truly appreciate that and realize now how blessed I was.

We didn’t travel to the most luxurious resorts, but it didn’t matter. What was important was experiencing a new place with interesting people. As I got older and was able to work, I helped fund some of these trips, including my high school-sponsored trip to France. That was a life-changing trip that really gave me the travel bug. I realized there was a whole world out there to explore.

Since then, I have been privileged enough to visit five continents and my husband has been to all seven (a bonus of being an Air Force pilot). As a family, we plan to see so much more of this amazing world we live in. I look forward to sharing adventures in other regions with my girls and watching them grow from their travel experiences. I don’t take any of it for granted and truly value the experiences we have had. That is why I want to share how travel can change your life for the better. 

Don’t believe me? Keep on reading.

Eilean Donan castle
Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland.

How travel can improve your well-being 

Improved resiliency:

Travel definitely keeps you on your toes. You can plan all you want, but sometimes things happen that you have NO control over. Which is tough for a planner like me. I love to have my itinerary planned out and have both a printed and digital copy on my phone, so that I know what’s coming and when. However, that doesn’t always work when you’re at the mercy of airlines and weather and other unknown factors. You have to be able to adapt to change and manage anxiety in the face of adversity.

As an example, my family and I took a trip to Mexico, which was beautiful and fun. We had a great week in the sunshine and reluctantly packed up to head home. However, after waiting several hours at the airport, we were told our first flight was delayed, eventually canceled and then rescheduled for the following day. Uh, what? That means we’re going to miss our connecting flight! 

Not only that, but our rescheduled flight was also delayed by several hours, which put us at risk of missing our new connecting flight, since we had to go through customs. Thankfully, we just made that flight, only got a few hours of sleep, then boarded our third and final flight home (we were originally only going to have two flights home). 

This experience could have turned me against flying or ruined the trip for us, if we let it. Instead, I chose to turn it into a learning experience and told my girls that sometimes this happens. We don’t have to like it, but it doesn’t help to cry and complain. We can acknowledge that it sucks and then accept that we have no control over it. The positive thing is that we were safe and together and actually had a plan to get home. Some families had no idea how they were getting home. In that case, we were the lucky ones.

Improved mental health:

Of course, it helps to be in a beautiful location like Hawaii, but you can reap the benefits of the outdoors anywhere you go. I’ve talked about the dangers of unchecked stress before here. That’s why we ALL need to get outdoors sometimes. On our vacations, we typically spend probably 80% of our time outside, either hiking, swimming, lounging in the sun or on excursions.

Why is this important? Because time spent in nature or even looking at natural landscapes can help to reduce stress and improve cognition, as discussed here. This is great when you’re traveling, but can also be useful when you’re home. You can take a walk in a local park, sit under a tree or even look at landscape photos on your computer home screen to get a similar effect.

Plus, sometimes we just need a change in our environment. If you’re feeling stuck in a rut, it can help to change your scenery, to experience something novel. It doesn’t have to be an exotic location either. When the pandemic began, we had to cancel our Spring Break plans in Florida. Consequently, we ended up renting a house in one of our state parks just an hour and a half from where we live. While we were still in Ohio, it was just the break we needed to recharge and reconnect as a family. 

NOTE: This doesn’t mean that travel is a replacement for professional therapy. It can just be a lovely adjunct. However, if you need it, please consult with a mental health professional.

Improved physical health:

The aforementioned stress reduction alone from travel can have a major positive impact on your health. In addition, when most people travel, they tend to get out and move more, than when in their regular environment. This is because we tend to want to explore a new place and see what we can find, from restaurants and shopping to excursions in nature. Moreover, science has shown the benefits of increasing activity, even in small bits as discussed here.

Knowing that, one of the best ways to explore an area is by foot or bike. That might also be the most practical option, especially if you don’t have a car. My family loves to rent bikes on vacation and just ride around. Of course, that means that we might get caught in a surprise rainstorm along the way (true story), but then we just have a funny story to tell later. By doing this, you could log multiple miles per day on foot or bike without even realizing it. 

Yet, even if you do have a car, you still are more likely to get out and walk around a site than at home. The novelty of a new location entices us to want to see it. This is exceptionally true when you’re in beautiful places like national parks (a favorite of my family), nature preserves or environments that are different from yours (ex- desert, rainforest, etc.). 

When we visited Utah’s Mighty Five national parks (Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Zion, Capitol Reef), we felt like we were in another world, as compared to the green hills of Ohio. Those massive desert mountains tempted us and made us want to learn more and see more. Consequently, we did and moved more in the process. 

waimea canyon in hauai
Our tree poses in Waimea Canyon State Park in Kauai.

Improved family connections:

It’s great to be well-rounded and do a lot of activities, but you can’t replace the quality time spent together as a family while traveling. That doesn’t mean that you won’t have the normal bickering that you have at home, especially when the kiddos get tired or hungry (or even hangry?). I know my girls will still have their squabbles whether we’re at home or in Hawaii (sigh). They will always fight over who gets to use the room key or who gets to sit in the window seat (first world problems, amiright?). 

However, we will always have those shared experiences from our vacations to look back upon together. Like when we all went canyoning in Scotland. If you’re not familiar, canyoning is a sport that involves moving through water canyons by jumping, swimming, abseiling and walking. It can be challenging and a little scary as you’re jumping down those narrow spaces. Yet, as we all completed the adventure together, it didn’t matter who said what to whom earlier in the day. What mattered is that we encouraged each other and celebrated when we finished. Plus, my girls will have that connection with each other for the rest of their lives.

YOU can create that with your family, as well, simply by sharing special moments together. In addition, that bond strengthens when that shared moment is exclusive between you and your family members and no one else. 

Improved confidence:

The trials, challenges and skills that inevitably accompany travel will change your perspective on the day-to-day tasks of life. You will realize that, after successfully completing the difficult hike to see the beautiful glacier, that work presentation really isn’t anything to be afraid of. Plus, after traversing the challenging ropes course, your kiddos will gain confidence in trying new things, like joining the mock trial team or trying out for lacrosse.

Furthermore, simply planning a trip on your own for multiple people helps you realize that you can actually accomplish a lot more than you give yourself credit for. You CAN take charge of that work project or lead the school PTO or even start that business you’ve been thinking about for years. No seminar or online self-help course can come close to providing that faith in yourself.

Improved communication:

Like it or not, travel is ALL about communication, both verbal and nonverbal. From the moment you leave your hometown, whether by plane, train, automobile or boat, you will have an exchange of ideas or information with others. It’s simply unavoidable (sorry to my fellow introverts). It might be at the restaurant where you eat dinner, with your tour guide or perhaps the family sitting next to you at the pool. 

Travel removes you from your comfort zone and inserts you into an environment that challenges you to interact with strangers, either with spoken words or nonverbal cues. At some point, you will need directions (GPS is great, but not always accurate in some areas) or ask for recommendations. You might not know which train to board (especially in Europe) or even where the bathroom is (¿Dónde está el baño?). That’s why communication is essential when traveling.

Plus, sometimes communication is more about listening to and observing another person, instead of worrying about what you’re going to say. Maybe they’re telling you about the history of the Mayan civilization or how a mountain range was formed. Perhaps they’re showing you a piece of art they created or trying to convey with hand signals that you’re heading in the right direction. Sometimes we just need to shut up and listen, instead of having the last word.

The great thing is that when you come home, you and your kiddos can then apply those communication skills to your regular life. After navigating through strange locales and talking to complete strangers (bonus points if they speak a different language), meeting the new kid at school or speaking to your networking group won’t seem like such a big deal. 

Improved positive feelings from your memories:

My family and I love to play the “remember when” game. Meaning that we’ll say, “Remember when we hiked on a glacier?” or “Remember when Kennedy got fish guts in her hair?” (This actually happened.) We’ll bring up a positive memory from a past trip that made us laugh or feel proud or some other happy emotion. Then, that memory will actually conjure up those emotions that were felt at the time. 

The beauty of this, is that you can actually trick the brain into thinking that event is happening again, without having to go back to that place. You can trigger those positive feelings again and enjoy the moment. This could be especially helpful if you’re having a tough day at work or are fed up with your kiddos at bedtime. Simply close your eyes and bring up a fun travel memory.

Root Glacier in Alaska
Walking on the Root Glacier in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in Alaska.

How travel can be accessible

I understand that travel is definitely a privilege, but I firmly believe that it can be accessible to just about everyone. As I noted earlier, when I was younger, we managed to see numerous different areas on a modest budget. Since then, after acquiring the travel bug, visiting new areas has become a priority in my life. In addition, I believe that travel is possible with every budget, wherever you are on your life’s journey. Consequently, I would like to share some tips on making travel available to everyone.

Open a vacation savings account:

This is my number one tip. This is also how my husband and I took an amazing vacation in southern Chilean Patagonia early on in our marriage. I read an article about Torres del Paine National Park and decided we needed to go there. We didn’t have a lot of money, but we were dedicated to saving for the trip. We deposited small amounts into the account as we were able to and eventually had enough to book the trip. It’s still one of our favorites many years later. 

Take advantage of travel credit cards:

Seriously. These cards can end up paying for your flights or hotels without even putting much effort into it. I know that you might be wary of accumulating too much credit card debt and that’s a valid concern. However, if you use your card for normal expenses, such as gas, food and supplies, you’re not actually buying anything extra. Plus, you can pay it off every month and avoid paying the high interest rates. Furthermore, it’s actually safer to use a credit card for purchases than a bank debit card. You have more protection if someone steals your card info. 

If I haven’t convinced you, consider that I recently booked three tickets each for flights to both Mexico and Costa Rica using only our points from our credit card. I didn’t have to spend a dime out of pocket. Interested now? Then, here is an article discussing the best travel cards. 

Seek out group travel:

This can be really useful for single travelers, but also for families. Group trips usually have great discounts and are offered for different budgets and preferences. Plus, you don’t have to do the hard work of planning and organizing, if that’s not your thing. It’s all done for you, so you just need to pack and show up.

Seek out minority travel:

I see you my mamas of color. I don’t know what it’s like to be you, but I do understand that your travel experience might be different from mine, as a white woman. You might need to think more carefully about where you’re going and how they feel about different races. You might worry more about how to keep your family safe, due to the color of your skin. The great thing is that many companies now exist to help minority travelers plan their next dream trip. Plus, an abundance of black family travel bloggers have popped up that can give you tips and tricks, as discussed here

In addition, I don’t want to leave out my mamas in the LGBTQ community. Obviously, you also have special concerns about how to feel safe and accepted when traveling. Especially since same sex relationships are still criminalized in many countries around the world and can even result in the death penalty! (There are no words for the horror of this.) Thankfully, many places in the US and around the world are accessible to LGBTQ families. Plus, many articles and blogs have been written on the subject, like this article

Set a budget:

This might seem obvious, but sometimes we forget about the most obvious things. While travel is wonderful, it’s not worth getting into debt over. Then, you’re just creating more stress than is necessary. That’s why setting a budget can be so critical. Be super honest about what your family can afford and then stick with it. I know it’s not sexy, but it’s better than the sticker shock of spending hundreds, or more, over your budget. 

Look for accessible areas:

One of the beauties of living in these modern times is that our world has become much more accessible to those with physical disabilities. We still have a ways to go, but at least there is more awareness about the need to create accessible locations. Googling “traveling with a disability” shows over 30 million results, which demonstrates just how important this topic is. That means that disabled travelers will have more and more choices as time goes on. 

delicate arch in arches national park, Utah
Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, Utah.

Leverage your vacation time:

In the US, we pride ourselves on being hard-workers. We say “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” We push through day and night at our jobs, often without even taking lunch. We take shockingly short maternity leaves. We don’t use our earned vacation time.

I used to be one of these people. I felt guilty if I used all of my two-week vacation time that I was allowed. I thought it was too much of a burden on my employer, who hardly used any of their vacation time at all. This meant I would usually just take one week and then maybe use another day here or there. Then, I would lose the rest of my vacation days, because it didn’t accrue from year to year. Consequently, over time, I eventually ended up experiencing burnout and had a physical body crash (as discussed here), partly because I didn’t take needed time off to restore myself. 

Now, I value my time off. I understand the aforementioned benefits of travel and realize how necessary it is to all of us. That’s why I want to challenge YOU to use ALL of your vacation time. Not a portion of it. ALL of it. It’s given to you for a reason, so take advantage of it.

I know that some work cultures aren’t supportive of taking time off. Yet, if they give it to you, by all means, use it. They will figure out how to live without you while you’re gone.

Alternatively, if you are able to work virtually, you could travel while you work, if absolutely necessary. However, that does defeat the purpose of taking time off, so I wouldn’t recommend that, unless that’s the only way you would be able to travel.

Eat meals in your rental:

If your budget doesn’t allow for eating out every meal, no problem. Just make sure you’re staying at a place that has a kitchen, such as a condo or home. Most rentals from sites, such as Airbnb or VRBO, do come with a kitchen and don’t cost much more than a regular hotel room. That way, you can purchase groceries and eat in for a lot of your meals and pay a fraction of the cost of eating out.

Plus, it’s often more convenient for the kiddos to just roll out of bed and grab some breakfast without having to get dressed and go somewhere. Another option is to make sure that breakfast is included with your room, so that you’re not forking out extra for at least one meal. 

Travel in the off season:

This is more difficult if you’re working around a school schedule and don’t want your children to miss school or extracurriculars. However, if you’re able to, traveling during off season can help you to save money and avoid the crowds. If you’re flexible, be sure to research what is considered off season for your destination of choice, as that can vary from location to location. As a rule, Summer and Spring Break times are typically going to be the busiest and most expensive times to travel. When I was recently researching ticket prices on Google Flights (an excellent resource), I was astounded to see some flights almost double in price from May to June. 

Do a home swap:

I haven’t done this myself and don’t know much about it, but it’s an interesting concept. You use a website, such as Home Exchange, to swap homes with another family. It sounds very similar to Airbnb, except that you pay an annual fee and have unlimited exchanges available to you each year.

Use public transportation when you can (buses, trains, subways etc.):

If available, public transportation can be the best way to see a city. Fares on public transportation can be much less than an Uber/Lyft and more convenient than renting a car, particularly when parking is a major challenge. Plus, you can easily purchase bus, train or subway passes and choose your location as you go. My husband and I bought Eurail passes, when we were first married and had a tiny budget, on a trip to Europe and moved between countries with ease and without breaking the bank. 

Rent an RV/ take a cruise:

If you want to see multiple locations in one trip, this might be your best and most budget friendly option. My family has done both. Both are great because they allow you to have your lodging, transportation and food all in one place. When you’re on the road in the RV and get hungry, you don’t have to worry about looking for a restaurant. You can just pull over, make your lunch and get back to your route.

Cruise ships can be great because they also add in entertainment, along with a selection of ports to explore. Of course, you are at the mercy of the weather on the seas, which might be too much for those prone to motion sickness (like my daughter). Yet, for many people, this is the only way they travel.

Look for city passes:

One of my favorite ways to see a city. Most large cities offer discounted rates on activities (such as museums, aquariums or observation decks) when you buy multiple activities at the same time. It’s definitely worth checking these out to get a good taste of what a city has to offer.

Visit free sites:

Many locations in the US, or even around the world, are actually FREE to see. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Free US national park pass for members of the military (both active duty and veterans), fourth graders and citizens w/permanent disabilities.
  • Do a free walking city tour, either with a tour guide or on your own (Google walking tour routes).
  • Check out the local parks and have a picnic.
  • Visit local farmer’s markets to see the best goods (both edible and not) an area has to offer.
  • Free museums, like the Smithsonian in DC, are a great way to save money and learn about various topics.
  • Many major landmarks are actually free to see, including Niagara Falls (without the boat ride), St. Peter’s Basilica in The Vatican and The Pantheon in Rome.

Ask for tips on social media or wherever you’re staying:

People love to talk about their travels, just as much as they love to chat about their favorite spots in their city. You can find so many tips online to make traveling more accessible to your family’s unique needs. Check out this article for apps to make this process easier.

rappelling into Cenote Maya
My girls Rappelling down into Cenote Maya in Mexico.

Life lessons learned from travel

Several years ago, my family spent two weeks in an RV exploring the Mighty Five national parks in Utah, as previously mentioned. We didn’t have a tv or reliable radio reception. We had questionable Wi-Fi at many locations and were sometimes able to check social media and email, but often couldn’t even make a phone call.

In other words, we were minimally connected to the outside world. However, we were so much more connected to the world around us and each other in so many different ways. We also experienced many lessons learned from traveling that can translate to everyday life that I want to share.

You are part of a community:

A lot of us have lost the sense of community that used to be so commonplace. We often don’t talk to or even know our neighbors. We move away from our families to strange locations. We isolate ourselves in front of our screens in our temperature controlled homes.

However, when on the road, it doesn’t matter if you’re in New Jersey or New Delhi. You share the common experience of exploration. We have met people in Chile, Greece, France, across the States and more and all are willing to pull up a chair and talk about what they have seen or give their thoughts about where you should go next. Ironically, traveling might provide some of us with more of a community than we have at home. However, the lesson is that we all need to belong to a community, and you don’t have to travel thousands of miles to find one.

You don’t have to schedule your whole life:

Sometimes the best things in life are spontaneous. It’s very hard for me to admit that, because, as I said before, I am a scheduler. I live and breathe by my schedule. However, vacation taught me that the world will not end if everything isn’t scheduled.

Keep in mind that doesn’t mean that you completely skip out on work and go to the mall. Just leave some breathing room for unplanned activities. If we hadn’t done that, we would have missed the amazing views of Dead Horse Point in Utah, basically a mini Grand Canyon and the location of many movies. 

Also, it’s okay to have some down time, even if only five minutes to catch your breath. Do you ever give yourself time to just sit and daydream? Probably not in this uber-connected world. Yet, try it the next time you’re waiting for your kiddo’s practice to finish. Turn off all electronics (yes, even music) and think about nothing in particular. You might be surprised what comes out of that, what ideas take place.

You can get by with less in life:

My older daughter might disagree with this one. Yet, when you’re traveling for a week or two, you can obviously only bring so many things. This is notably true when flying and trying to pack as efficiently as possible. You need to stuff all of your clothes, shoes, toiletries, snacks, etc. into a limited size suitcase.

By doing this, you realize that you really don’t need ten pairs of shorts and fifteen tops for a week-long trip. You could actually get by with half of that. Maybe less if you have a place to do laundry. While it’s satisfying to have a choice of what to wear, it’s not necessary to have SO much choice. Sometimes less really IS more. That way, you don’t end up with decision fatigue during your vacation. 

Similarly, I’m notorious for bringing a ton of snacks when we travel, as if we won’t be able to find any food when we’re on the road. I used to weigh down my bags (and my husband’s) with boxes of snacks that we would rarely eat and then have to bring them all home. Over time, I’ve realized that we actually don’t need them and it’s more fun to try whatever food is in the area we’re visiting. Plus, my girls simply don’t want the same old granola bar when they can try a fun new snack. 

This can translate into the real world by allowing you to see what you can go without. You realize that it actually feels good to purge. That doesn’t mean you need to throw out your wardrobe or clear out your cabinets. If you truly love something, then keep it. It just means that it’s worth evaluating what you actually love and what you can let go of.

We need to get uncomfortable in order to grow as a person:

That means get out of your comfort zone in order to change and grow as a person. In my case, when we went to Utah, I was literally uncomfortable from the heat. I have never been heat tolerant and always avoid direct sun as much as possible. However, we faced 100°F for many days of our vacation, had very little shade and were constantly reminded how dangerous the heat could be.

Nevertheless, that helped to change my perspective of the land and admire those early Native Americans who survived and thrived in such extreme circumstances. I also focused downward on the amazing desert plants, animals and fascinating biological soil crusts that inhabit the harsh terrain. I’m sure I wouldn’t have had the same appreciation if we were hiking in pleasant 60°F temps every day. Plus, I felt much more accomplished after completing each hike.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to trek across the country to get uncomfortable. Just do something that makes you feel a little awkward or challenges you, like speaking in front of a group or climbing the steps at work instead of taking the elevator. Then, observe how you feel after the uncomfortable event is completed- Tired? Proud? Relieved? Understand that it’s okay and even necessary to step out of your comfort zone from time to time.

reindeer in Aviemore, Scotland
My daughter feeding a reindeer in Aviemore, Scotland.

You can’t control everything in life:

Sometimes you just have to go with the flow. Luggage gets lost, flights are delayed (or canceled, as discussed earlier), cars break down. Travel is wonderful and exhilarating and also unpredictable and frustrating. Things happen that you literally have NO control over. That might sound like a nightmare if you seek to have complete control over your life. However, no one can truly control everything anyway.

I would argue that we actually have very little control over anything. The world around us is full of perfectly, imperfect people who have struggled to master their environment since the beginning of time. They’ve built massive cities, fought devastating wars, flown to the moon, for heaven’s sake, and are still seeking to control what’s around them. How exhausting is that? 

Personally, I find it quite liberating to realize that the only thing we really have control over is our own personal actions and reactions to situations. Not our partner’s or our children’s or our neighbor’s. It can actually be freeing to let some of that desire to control everything go.

This is a gentle reminder to YOU, my control-loving friend. You don’t have to spend all of that time and energy trying to create a perfect, Instagram-worthy world. You don’t have to have an immaculate home or coordinated children or designer outfits and bags (unless you truly desire that). You can just focus on how you respond to the stressors of everyday life. Consequently, I’m giving you permission to let go of the rest and actually get some rest.

People deserve to be treated with compassion and kindness:

Period. No matter their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, beliefs or nationality. We all have the same basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, safety, sleep. It doesn’t matter if you’re from France, Italy, Japan, Mexico or the US. People are not as different as they seem in the media.

We tend to be suspicious or fearful of individuals who look or speak or act differently than we do. We say, “Why are they wearing that?” or “Why do they do that?” Yet, when you interact with them, you realize that they’re just living their lives the best they can.

I have observed this during our travels. I’ve seen families playing and eating together. I’ve seen mothers scolding and snuggling with their children. I’ve seen the meltdowns after a long day at a park and the relief when the baby finally falls asleep on the plane. I’ve learned to stop judging and to figuratively start putting myself in their shoes. I understand that they struggle with their kiddos like I do. They have good days and bad days. They laugh and have fun. They get frustrated and tired. In short, they’re human.

In spite of our differences, we are all in this world together. We’re all doing the best we can do with the tools that we have. No matter where we come from, we all have value and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. That’s why compassion and empathy are the best tools against hate and misunderstanding. Good old-fashioned kindness really does go a long way. 

That might look like learning how to say “thank you” in another language and using it profusely. Or smiling at the mom with five kids in line next to you, instead of judging her for having so many children. Or holding the door open for the parent with the heavy  stroller. Or leaving an excellent review for your tour guide who spent the day with you. If you seek out ways to show kindness, you might be surprised at how many opportunities you have to do so and how great it makes you feel. Plus, you’ll be brightening someone else’s day at the same time. 

Don’t wait to do something on your bucket list:

You might not have tomorrow. I don’t say that to be pessimistic. While I’m a natural optimist, I’m also realistic. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, no matter how much we plan. Every day is a gift. Nonetheless, your entire life can change in the blink of an eye from an accident or a job loss or a pandemic or who knows what. 

Therefore, if you have a dream to visit Hawaii or start your own ice cream shop (by the way, I’m fully trained as an ice cream flavor tester, just saying), develop a plan to accomplish that dream now. Not tomorrow or next week. NOW. Make it a SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-oriented) goal (which is just a dream with a plan) and get to work on it. Not sure how to do that? That’s what I’m here for Mama!

Travel is the best learning experience:

I fully appreciate the hard-working teachers who educate my children. They have my utmost respect for all that they do, especially in this post-pandemic world. They have one of the hardest jobs in the world. However, there is no comparison between learning about the ancient Greeks in a book and actually seeing the real sculptures and artifacts of the Parthenon in Athens.

Furthermore, it’s difficult to comprehend how the mind-boggling water pocket fold of Capitol Reef National Park was formed without seeing and feeling the layers of rock there. Some things can’t be absorbed from a book and need to be visualized with all five senses. Plus, travel instills a true love of learning that can’t be matched in the classroom.

I still get butterflies thinking about when my husband and I visited Rome and walked up the steps of the metro station and saw the awe-inspiring Colosseum right there in front of us. No history book can describe that feeling.

On the other hand, if you’re not able to travel to foreign lands in the near future, you can at least experience a lot of them virtually through Google Earth or Google Arts and Culture, or as discussed here

Traveling always changes the traveler:

This is one of the most important of all lessons learned from traveling. Maybe you learned how water formed the Grand Canyon or how to paddleboard. Perhaps a friendly stranger on the subway helped you find the correct line to take and made you realize that the big city isn’t so scary. You might come back more open-minded about different ethnicities or ready to tackle that major home project you’ve been putting off.

It doesn’t matter if you’re on a weekend trip to a small bed and breakfast or a month-long trip overseas. You. Will. Come. Back. Different. Period.

Have I inspired you to start traveling or to travel more with your family? I hope so, because there is an entire world to be explored and new memories just waiting to be created. If you have any other life-changing lessons from travel, please leave them in the comments section. I would also love to hear about your favorite locations and travel stories. Now, get out there and start your journey!

“Traveling. It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”

-Ibn Battuta

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