Melissa's Travels

On My Mind: My Family's Travel Evolution

One of the many changes that comes from having a child in college is that we no longer have two weeks of spring break to travel together as a family. Knowing that this day would come, my husband and I were diligent about planning family trips as soon as our kids were old enough to endure long flights. We took them to Australia, Africa, South America and Asia to expose them to different cultures, landscapes and people. But we also made a point of exploring America, with road trips in California and Montana and weekends in Washington, D.C.; Nashville; New Orleans; Charleston; and Miami.

Related: College Tours and Visits

It is a cliché to say that the years pass quickly, and you have to make the most of them, but they do, and you must. The value of “show, don’t tell” as it relates to the world has been made clear to me both by my own memories of discovering foreign places as a child and their impact on my life choices and by seeing how travel has affected my children’s perspectives.

Related: Multigenerational Trips

On the second day of our trip to India, my daughter, then 16, declared that she wanted to go home. She felt deeply uncomfortable with the way some men in the market leered at her. She was undone by the children begging outside our palace hotel. India’s extremes of beauty and desperation are staggering. The complexity and injustices of life are often laid bare in one crystalline moment. Outside the palaces, filled with portraits of royals bedecked in diamonds and jewels, are streams of disfigured beggars, some injured for their trade by their own parents, as well as Jain monks who, barefoot and in rags, embody pure spirituality.

Related: The Top 10: Mother-Daughter Trips

India’s in-your-face contrasts inspired us to talk about suffering, privilege, the accidents of birth, religion, education and social responsibility. Two days before we returned home, my daughter came into my hotel room, flopped on the foot of my bed and announced that this had been the best trip she could have taken during her junior year of high school. Unlike most abrupt teenage reversals, this one was welcome, not exasperating.

Related: Just Back From...India

“At school we complain about taking the SATs and applying to college and the stress of it,” she said. “But after being here and knowing that almost half the women in India don’t ever get to learn to read, I realize how much we take for granted.” Her epiphany didn’t spare us from college anxiety or application tension, but she underwent a perceptual shift that could only have been produced by her experiencing the wideness of the world. As a parent, I am glad that is a gift that will stay with her forever.

Related: The Evolution of Family Travel

Contact Indagare for assistance planning a family vacation. Our specialists will consult with you to create a trip that is tailored to your family and will create lifelong memories.

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