What kids really get out of travelling

After a long family trip from London to Istanbul, New Nomad's Teresa reflects on what her children have gained most from the journey

4 mins

This is it. We’re on our last 3 stops before crossing back to the UK next week. We have visited 29 European countries, it will be 30 by tomorrow. It’s time to close the chapter and look at what it was all about. 

Right now it feels like time has not passed since we left at New Year. It’s almost 9 months – it will be 37 weeks precisely. That is a huge amount of time, but really hard to visualise. What was it, what did it mean, what happened??! I clearly remember our departure and genuinely thinking that we had no idea what was going to happen to us, how we would change, what the ‘it will be the best thing for your kids’ effect actually was. We knew something would change in us but we didn’t know what.

And so we just went with the flow. We didn’t really plan the route much further than the next destination, the next night’s sleep, the next sight to see. It was methodical to start with – OK, we’re in Amsterdam, what should we see? OK, we’re in Copenhagen, what should we see? It took a long time for it to become organic. And then it was only in the latter part of the trip that we really recognised what this experience was giving us. It was making us remember and recognise who we are. It was about the people.

And that’s the thing, travel has to start somewhere, and it starts with sights to see. This guides you, it entices you to cities, regions, countries that you’ve not been to before. You learn some of the history, you feel a connection. That history comes from people, the people that passed before us. We stand in the present, shoulder to shoulder with our generation, and we learn from our ancestors. 

We then head back to our room for the night and we quickly realise that we don’t want that room to be in a hotel, we want that room to be with local people, and so we change the way that we do things and we start seeking out these places. We want to be around the present, because we like these people, we are part of them, we are all one society, and it is from these people that we learn something, we listen to their stories, to their knowledge, to their beliefs. 

We laugh with these people. We hug these people. We learn some of their language. We meet their extended family. We drink with them. Eat their local delicacies. Talk about our experiences. Talk about our families. Talk about fish and chips. A lot.

And that’s when you realise that this is what travel is about. It’s about society.

You think that when you head off that you are going to be lonely, you’re leaving your friends and family behind. But you’re not. You are enriched, you are enthused by these new faces and their stories. Their huge generosity, love, peace and understanding towards you is uplifting. Its incredibly powerful. You receive it and you instantly want to spread it back. 

It fires your basic human nature. It frees the environmentalist, the humanitarian, the warrior inside of you. It makes you want to do something, to make a difference. to join your comrades. It is the best thing I have experienced for making me aware of my place on this planet, and the power that we have collectively as the present and our children as the future. It feels like a rebirth.

And so that is it. It’s incredibly simple. You set off thinking that you’re going to be enriched by all of these places. And you are. But the real beauty is in the people. We are the people and we have the power over our own lives. The power to change. 

And so this trip and it’s memories and lessons are a gift to every single person that we have met, spoken with and spent time with. It is you that has given us an experience that we had no idea we would have. Thank you!

New NomadsWe are Teresa, John, Livi and Georgia. We didn't get tired or disillusioned with life in the UK, we just opened our eyes to the fact that we had a choice. There was no years of planning involved – it took us 3 months to decide, sell and go. It is possible! We have our car and a trailer and a map book. We are not skilled travellers or teachers and we're not just doing it for the kids – we're doing it for us all. You can follow our adventures on newnomads2015.wordpress.com.

Main image: Happy kids in a car (Shutterstock)

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