Every child needs a little wanderlust
an intense urge for self-development by experiencing the unknown, confronting unforeseen challenges, getting to know unfamiliar cultures, ways of life and behaviours.
Early childhood is a constant state of wanderlust – but at some point our challenges turn the wonder to surviving the everyday grind.
Walk down the street with a young child and you get a glimpse of how they see the world – every rock is a treasure, leaves and feathers are full of wonder and puddles are mini theme parks. Over time this awe is dulled and a walk down the street becomes an every day landscape – but change the landscape and, whatever your age, you can recapture your that sense of childlike wonder.
My top travel tips
- Just go. Travel not only inspires me, it gives me a greater appreciation for all the things I love about home.
- Take your kids. A real life adventure is an amazing way to learn, not just about the world but life skills and yourself.
- The perfect age to travel is right now
- Have a travel bucket list. They say before you go on a holiday you need to book your next one, then you have something to look forward to when you return. Having a travel bucket list makes it easier to daydream and plan ahead.
I was only 18 months old when I embarked on my first international adventure, our family moved to London and then onto America. Any time my dad had off from work or study we spent zig zagging across Europe and the States, exploring new horizons.
My mum had the travel bug from a young age. When she was 15 she travelled to Europe for a year with a group of Girl Guides (she was a bit of a rockstar Guide and met the Prince of Wales and stuff). Her great adventure took her to Switzerland, France, Italy, UK and so on. As soon as mum finished her studies in her 20’s and earned enough for a ticket she was on the next ship back to London. These tales, coupled with my own travels as a young child, became the fables of my childhood. I loved hearing about mums European adventures on the smell of an oily rag. Maybe she caught the travel bug from her dad who was an engineer in the merchant navy.
We returned to Melbourne by the time I started school, and by the age of 8 the most exciting time of the year, other than Christmas, was our annual trip back to America. I loved the combination of adventure, being away from everyday responsibilities and, afterwards, memories of time spent together as a family.
There are plenty of emotions to experience through travel. And there are few things in life that can deliver such a range. Which for me is part of the reason why travelling is so addictive.
There is the deliberation in the planning stage, the terrifying and thrilling moment you pay for and book the ticket, the nervous excitement of packing the night before (and despite all the lists and planning there is always that feeling of something having been forgotten), the internal euphoria when boarding the aeroplane and then the tedium of long haul travel and putting up with other travellers. The not knowing what might be around the next corner and the joy of discovering something unexpectedly beautiful (or the relief of having made it out of the wrong end of town with your wallet still intact). The trepidation of trying new foods and the buzz of eating foods you’d not normally eat (I still remember the time when we were in L.A. for four days and I was 10, the only thing on the breakfast menu – much to my mother’s horror – was waffles and doughnuts).
The wonder of seeing landscapes so foreign to my everyday, the charge of having my mind blown by an impressive structure or artwork and that curious feeling of being the person who looks different, or the strange sensation of not speaking the same language, and the smells – different countries have different smells.
When you first get back home you can still smell the rest of the world in your bag for a day or two.
And then there are the emotions of returning home. Sometimes the return is filled with relief or a renewed vigour or sometimes it’s filled with sadness that it had to be over all so soon – and occasionally you may be confronted with the dread of having to return to face something you don’t want to.
When you are overseas there is that Alice In Wonderland element of falling through the looking glass – some things in other countries might appear similar to home, but in reality they are not the same.
Life works slightly differently around the world and sometimes half the challenge of being a tourist is figuring out how to do quite simple things, like buy a train ticket. And mastering these little cultural “hacks” is satisfying. Maybe that morning you were floundering, heart pumping hands sweaty, but by the afternoon you’re totally working that train ticket like a local (or you hope you are!).
There is definitely an ugly side to our world and travel can expose you to this and it can be confronting and sometimes scary – but on the flip-side there is also much faith to be had in humankind.
When you are far from home and out of your comfort zone moments of human kindness are felt with an intensity you don’t tend to experience in every day life. Perhaps because the kindness from a stranger is largely unexpected. We take kindness for granted when it comes from our friends and family. But when someone who is completely unconnected to your life reaches out and offers you a hand for no discernible reason (other than they are a decent human being) it makes you feel connected to the human race in a profound way.
Having a global view of life – or even a view that enables you to step back and evaluate the one in front of you – is key to being able to see life from different angles. If you can see a bigger picture of the human condition then you’re more likely to understand that most of our daily problems are actually pretty small in the grand scheme of things.
Travel offers so many life lessons to children and, at the very least, when they return home and look up at that jumbo jet crossing the sky, wanderlust may fill their daydreams and ignite the possibility of future adventures. And maybe when they need a special place to escape to they can recapture that journey you made together in their minds eye.
This post was written as part of the ProBlogger Virgin Australia competition.