In two days, our entire family will embark on a two week holiday in Eastern Europe. Angela’s brother, Tony, married a woman from Romania so we’re going there to meet her family. We’ll be visiting Cluj and Brasov for about a week. After that, we’ll fly to Kiev, Ukraine to spend a week with my sister.
The actual travel component of vacation is not something to which I’m looking forward. It’s a necessary part of vacation, but not one that I enjoy. Maybe I’m just jaded from so much travel in my life. This trip will be different from all previous trips, though, because we’ll have an energetic two year old with us. This will be Josephine’s first flight, and we’re all a little trepidatious about how she’ll react to the experience of flight. None of us are particularly excited about helping Josie deal with the time zone changes, either. But I’m sure we’ll manage.
Jonah and Tess are joining us, too. This will be their first international trip. Angela and I are extremely excited about sharing this trip with them. There will be so many things – big and little – to learn. Site seeing will be a primary component of our time in Brasov, to be sure, but all the little cultural differences are likely to be as interesting to the kids as any historical site they see.
My parents took me on my first international vacation when I was about 11 years old. We went to Peru for two weeks. We spent a couple days in Lima, a couple days on the Amazon, and a couple days at Machu Picchu. I can vividly remember a great many details from that trip. More importantly, though, as an adult I can very clearly point to that trip as a watershed moment in my personal development. That trip opened the world to me, in a very literal way.
I learned to appreciate the differences in culture. I learned to appreciate how even small differences in life and lifestyle can lead to big differences in worldview. I learned not to be afraid of people who are different.
I didn’t leave the country again until I was 21, when I went to Russia with mom and dad. A couple years later we vacationed in England and Scotland. And almost immediately after my return from that trip I was on my way to France, on assignment for the consulting company at which I was working. I spent a little more than a year making short trips throughout Europe for that job. France, England, Germany. I’ve since been to Hong Kong, Japan, and Saudi Arabia.
Each trip I’ve taken has been wholly remarkable. Each trip has taught me a little more about the world, and the people in it. Each trip has made me realize how little I really know about life outside of my neighborhood, my state, my country. Each trip has left me wanting to see and learn more.
It’s this awakening that I am most excited to watch in Jonah and Tess. I don’t expect it to happen while we’re on this trip. I don’t expect them to be fully conscious of it when it happens. But I’ll be watching for it as they describe the little things of day-to-day life in Eastern Europe to their friends upon their return. I’ll be watching for it as they rely upon these experiences for school assignments.
I hope very much to be able to do this all over again for Josephine as she grows up. I hope she grows up with international travel being a normal, completely unremarkable part of her life because it’s something we do with some regularity.