That thing that travel does

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“I want to go to Finland and Japan, mommy.”

This is what my 7-year-old shared with me today, as easily as saying he wants to go to the park.

His obsession with both countries has everything to do with three things: his favorite video games (Angry Birds/Finland and Mario Brothers/Japan), his love for art, and that thing that travel does: give those who take it on the opportunity to experience the things they admire the most in a way that is up close and personal.

In taking our kids to places, both closer to home and farther away, that they have often only before read about in books or seen in movies, we have given them the confidence that most places and experiences are attainable through a trip. Of course, they are learning that some times those trips take time, and lots of money. They are realizing that we have to save and work and wait. They haven’t yet learned, but will eventually figure out, that they might have to take on these journeys on their own someday. But they never question the possibility of it all and they do understand how precious a trip, to a place set in their heart, can really be.

That’s the thing that travel does. It doesn’t just give you the courage to dream big, but the confidence in believing the dream is possible.

When I was a little kid, I thought the biggest trip I could ever take was Disney. I didn’t contemplate on places like Africa, or Paris because I just never dreamed them possible. Yet, I’ve been to Paris, and still hope Africa will come soon.

But my son doesn’t see the world as small and limited as I once did. He believes that there is a way to get there, even if it might take time.

I love that thing that travel has done to my kids; that sense of belief and hope it has given them. That sense of wonder and inspiration it offers. When my little boy thinks of Finland and Japan he daydreams of the moment as an opportunity to meet the artists and creators of the characters he is so fond of. He has told us how he imagines walking to the Nintendo offices and maybe seeing Mario and Luigi themselves greet him. He talks about the Angry Birds Theme Park in Finland in detail from having watched videos of the same repeatedly, which he does to prepare himself for what to expect.

For him, at this age, these are his greatest travel dreams and he awaits them patiently because he believes them to come true, some day.

Oh, the places he will go!

We may not be able to take every trip our children want to take. We may not be able to join them in seeing the various places they aspire to see. But when it comes to travel, we are grateful that our children share our love for the same. We are proud that they aren’t afraid to want to go to different lands – even though they know the language, food, and customs will be different.  They aren’t intimidated by the thought of going too far.

That thing that travel does, where it nurtures a sense of adventure and curiosity and a desire to be a part of something different and new, has affected my children in a way that makes my heart smile.

For a child that is not afraid of what the world has to offer is better able to embrace it.

Thanks to the suggestion from one of our Twitter followers, we have started a savings jar for our trip to either Finland or Japan, or both! It’s our way of teaching our children the time and dedication it takes to save up for those things that mean so much to us, and to help them to further appreciate the journey once we make it.




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Carol Cain

Carol is her happiest when on an adventure, either close to home or farther away. She's the mom to three fun boys and wife to a handsome Irish/Scot. She lives in New Jersey with her happy crew, but will always be a girl from Brooklyn. You can read her full profile here.

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10 Responses to That thing that travel does

  1. Carol – I love the idea of a Trip Jar. Since our girls have gotten older, traveling has become one of our focus as a family. It brings us closer together, and each trip becomes a bonding experience for the girls. Can't wait to break out the trip jar!


  2. Carol Cain says:

    @Pam at Triple Threat Mommy: I love reading that! The kids are super excited about its promises : )))

  3. Quiana says:

    What a fantastic post! I came from a place where people didn't travel much but somehow acquired the itch as a child to get away. Thankfully I met someone who had that same itch and have been able to go all over the world as an adult. I hope to instill the same itch in my children and so far it's taking on well with my daughter. Although only 2 1/2 she still remembers our trip to Nigeria to visit family a year ago and talks about it all the time telling me she wants to go back. The itch starts young I tell ya! BTW I just recently got into Angry Birds and had no idea about the Finland connection – I went there years ago and didn't really enjoy it but taking a look at that theme park now makes me want to return!

  4. Carol Cain says:

    @Quiana: Thanks Quiana! People really underestimate the impact that travel has on children and though they don't really understand the details (like you're daughter wanting to just hop on a plane and go to Nigeria – lol!) it's wonderful to see them express such joy in the different things the experience. : ))

  5. I laughed when I read the part about your biggest travel opportunity as a kid was to Disney. Same here. My Mom clipped coupons for years so we could go. But I also remember going to camp as a kid and it seemed like I traveled so far to get there. It could have been Finland. But in reality it was two towns away. But in my 8 year old mind, it was FAR! But now, I think, with the global world, kids have such a better sense of travel, adventure and don't blink an eye on traveling more than two towns over. My six month has already done more traveling than I did up until I was 18!

  6. Lisa says:

    "That thing that travel does, where it nurtures a sense of adventure and curiosity and a desire to be a part of something different and new, has affected my children in a way that makes my heart smile." I couldn't agree more – that's why I travel with my kids – I want them to believe that they can go anywhere. When my younger daughter was three she used to tell everyone that she wanted to go to Russia and China. We visited Russia for two days when she was 6 and she was thrilled. Now at 9 her list is much longer – she still wants to go to China, Egypt, Japan, Dublin for St. Patrick's Day… The list keeps getting longer and I love it!

  7. Dawn says:

    I loved that comment about your son wanting to go to Finland. When my middle son was two we went to Finland and Budapest for months after we got home every time we saw an airplane in the sky he would ask if it was flying to Finland or Budapest! I hope you do make it to Finland, it's a beautiful country!

  8. Carol Cain says:

    @Charlene (@CharChronicles): Haha! That's funny (about what a traveler your 18month old is already)! So true. I think it's the greatest gift we can give.

  9. Carol Cain says:

    @Lisa: They do help to keep us on our traveling toes for sure!

  10. Carol Cain says:

    @Dawn: Aww! Thank you, I hope we make it to Finland too : )

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