Until my daughter was about 7 years old, all of our travels were to visit family. We had never been on a leisure trip. But once we started, we couldn’t seem to stop. She and I have been to 5 states and 14 countries together and she’s been to one country without me.
Obviously as a mom who comes from my background, it’s amazing to be able to give my daughter the world. But there are also some specific reasons why I love traveling with her:
1. She helps bring out my Sense of wonder
Adults can be so jaded about everything. “The Eiffel tower is SO overrated” and “augh Bangkok is so touristy”.
Having my kid along with me while traveling helps me see EVERYTHING as a new and wonderful experience. In fact, the first time she saw the Eiffel Tower, I had already seen it three times and it was just as amazing as the first time because I was witnessing her experiencing it for the first time.
…we end up going to see it every single day we were in Paris, at her request 🙂
2. She makes me brave
My daughter has always been SO fearless. I still remember all the shenanigans she got into as a small toddler, that would make most parent’s heart drop to their ankles. I happen to be pretty laid back and her dad happens to be a daredevil who likes to race cars and do backflips off of just about anything, so she got it honest.
When she was 8 she asked me if she could jump out of an airplane. I said told her no (I’m not THAT laid back) but I have always admired her courage. When we travel and she wants to do things that I would normally NEVER do b/c I’m terribly afraid of heights, I do it anyway because I don’t want her to miss out and I know she won’t do it without me.
So, thanks to her, I’ve done rollercoasters I wouldn’t normally do and I’ve been zip lining in both South Africa and in Thailand.
3. Creating cool memories
Ok, we can create cool memories even at home but I really love that we get to create cool memories together on our travels.
Oddly enough, I sometimes I think about how she will talk about me and our relationship when she gets older and makes college friends or gets married or has kids of her own or how she’ll remember me when I’m gone. Maybe it’s not odd, maybe this is what all parents do. There are lots of lessons and things I hope she holds onto but mainly, I always hope that she’ll remember and talk about three main things:
- My mother and I lived life so well together and had SO much fun
- My mother literally gave me the world
- My mother spoke to me in every love language – quality time, acts of service, gifts, physical touch, and words of affirmation – so that I knew without a doubt I was truly loved
Those first two are reasons I prefer to make our memories all over the world. If you spend enough time with us, you’re going to end up hearing us recall “that time when we saw the most amazing Christmas lights display EVER in Colombia” or “that time we rode ATVs in Thailand” or “that time I got a toothache in Singapore” (not cool, actually, not cool at all).
4. We get to be buddies instead of just mother/daughter
When we are traveling, I get to reduce my Mom hours to part-time or flex-time and we both just get to be people having an experience together. As we slip out of our day to day roles at home, we get to know one another a little better as Libryia and Zian.
So much of my daughter’s personality and the core of who she really is has become way more apparent to me during our travels because we are less “constrained” by the roles play on a day to day basis at home. It’s honestly a beautiful thing.
We have had some of the most honest and direct conversations ever while traveling. I find this to be one of my favorite things because I don’t feel I could have those kinds of conversations with my mom growing up (I do now though, we talk about damn near everything).
5. WE get to learn more about ourselves
There’s nothing like being stuck or lost in a foreign country and not speaking the language to teach you who you REALLY are as a person, lol. Thankfully, that’s only happened to us a few times.
Seriously though, traveling has placed us in so many situations – both serendipitous and challenging – that have either shown us who we are or helped us expand who we are.
I realized that despite my incredible fear of heights, I am a person who is open to challenging her fears because I understand that fear is not always rational and is not always telling us NOT to do something. I’m grateful for being in situations that could show me that about myself.
My daughter has learned that her compassion outweighs her introversion. She is uncomfortable talking to people in general and especially people she does not know (even if I’m around) but if it means being helpful or showing empathy, she will push through. I’ve seen her help an older woman with her bags in the airport. I’ve witnessed her giving her allowance to homeless people. And when we got to Thailand, the King had passed away and the country was in mourning. I watch this shy little girl kneel down with a grieving family to help place candles in homage to “their father”.
6. It makes my hard work feel worth it
Based on statistics and algorithms I shouldn’t be living this life and I shouldn’t be able to give my daughter this life. I was raised by a parent who didn’t graduate from high school. I grew up in a trailer park. I was the first person in my family to go to college, which my parents could not afford. When I had my daughter, I had moved back into that trailer and was on food stamps and medicaid. I was sharing a twin bed with my baby.
I wanted my daughter’s life to be different than mine (make no mistake, I enjoyed my life! My parents made my life amazing. But every generation wants to raise the bar, right?). When my daughter was a baby, I worked full-time and was in grad-school full-time, at one point I even had a part-time job on top of it. All to give us the life we have today (I’m not going to pretend that I did this all for her, it was for me too, lol).
Sitting on a safari jeep outside of Cape Town or cruising along the river in Budapest or walking the streets of Accra or standing in front of a temple in Abu Dhabi with my little girl makes all the work my mom did to get me to college and all the work I did to graduate and advance my career and opportunities feel completely worth it.
I love traveling by myself, I love traveling with the Wandering Moms, I love traveling with my girl-friends. But guys, I really REALLY love traveling with my daughter. I hope she’s cool being my fave travel buddy for the rest of my life!
See also: 6 Reasons I hate Traveling With My Kid (I’m a Libra, it’s all about balance, lol)