If you asked me to describe what we were like before having kids I’d probably say “always busy planning an adventure”. Prior to diving 111 metres, head first towards the Zambezi river from the Victoria Falls bridge in Africa, the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, we’d spent a month travelling by overland truck from Kenya, diving lake Malawi, then Zanzibar and having a few, rather close encounters with some wild animals in the Serengeti. We weren’t filled with fear or what if’s, except perhaps that the baboons sitting under the bridge might chew through the rope before we would finally get to jump. The sheer sense of exhilaration we felt that day is something I’ll never forget. To date we remain friends with the people who jumped with us that day. This is what travel does. It challenges you. It forces you out of your comfort zone and it connects you to people and places that you would never ordinarily encounter. Throughout all our travels we learnt something new about ourselves, that we were capable, strong and braver than we’d ever thought possible.
Then came parenthood and somewhere along the way we got scared. Afraid of the unknown, taking risks and leaving the safety and comfort of our home. Our instinct to protect our children and give them a ‘stable and happy childhood’ kicked in. The pressure of constantly thriving to be the ‘perfect parent’ (whatever that may be) got in the way of doing what gave each of us joy, energy and a sense of fulfilment. Spending quality time together, away from the distractions of technology, really embracing life and venturing out into the world in pursuit of new adventures.
When it comes to travelling with the kids, we have done a few trips here and there. A few cruises, holidays in the Polynesian Islands, 10 days backpacking around Japan (which I would HIGHLY recommend), a holiday in Hawaii and last year we visited parts of England and France. Some days were really hard and at times we pushed them to their limits. Our youngest was only 4 when we travelled around Japan but they both thrived and still speak about that holiday like it was yesterday. When we first arrived in London they were nervous wrecks at the tube station entry point, by the end of the holiday we had to chase after them as they raced each other to the platform. Their fear of the unknown and their self-doubt in new situations had almost completely disappeared. Travelling definitely agreed with them and made them more resilient.
Last year we visited Paris and this turned out to be a pivotal turning point for us all. Making our way from the Arc de Triomphe down the Champs Elysees we found ourselves being approached by refugees who were desperately pleading for help, crying because they had nowhere to go. Our daughter was so distraught. We really felt for them, especially the helpless children, feeling compelled to help as much as we could. After that night we all complained a little less but most importantly, it opened up the conversation about different events occurring in the world. A dialogue about the impact of war, refugees, homelessness and suffering. Realities that our children are so sheltered from here in Australia. They came back a little wiser and people commented on how much they had matured. They were kinder to one another but most importantly more empathetic to those less fortunate than themselves. This in my eyes was a gift, a gift that only travel can give.
Not long after this we decided that we needed to travel more, for longer periods, pursue all that world has to offer and really enrich the lives of our children with the hope that they will grow up to become global citizens who seek positive change in the world. And so we began dreaming and planning.
A year and a bit later, here we are. Finally taking the leap and about to embark on a little adventure once more.