With Easter right around the corner, I’ve been thinking a lot about the things I’m thankful for and the many family traditions I loved growing up. Some of my best childhood memories involve family vacations and the activities we did all together. My mom actually had a goal to visit all 50 US states with my brother and I before we went to college. Although that didn’t happen, we made a good go of it and had lots of adventures together.
However, I don’t remember many of the vacations I took with both of my parents, as they got divorced when I was in elementary school. But although they were separated, they both prioritized traveling with my brother and I, and I’m extremely grateful that they did.
Traveling has impacted me in numerous ways, but here are a few of the biggest reasons I’m so thankful my parents traveled with me when I was younger.
It made me appreciate other cultures
Whether it was hiking the Grand Canyon or taking trail rides at a dude ranch, we met people from all walks of life on our travels. Meeting people from different countries at a young age made me more curious about other cultures, and I learned a lot just by listening to other people’s stories.
My dad in particular is also a big fan of museums, which has since rubbed off onto me. We went to many exhibits and historic landmarks when I was young, and learning about major historic events through these visits ultimately made me want to pursue International Studies in college.
It made me more confident in myself
Traveling outside of my home bubble made me much more confident as an adult. When I started traveling solo, I realized I knew how to do many more things than I gave myself credit for. While I’m still not amazing at reading maps, I have no problem approaching locals and asking for directions or restaurant recommendations.
Traveling at a young age also gave me firsthand experience with travel mishaps like losing your luggage and getting lost, so when I began traveling with my friends I often became the unspoken leader on our travel days. I’d had some rough travel days before and knew how to deal with almost any situation that popped up, which helped me cope with travel situations that weren’t particularly ideal.
In the long run, traveling with my parents has encouraged me to travel by myself. That, in turn, has made my self-confidence skyrocket because I know I’m capable of taking care of myself and doing adult things like managing my money and knowing when it’s worth splurging or saving on trips.
It made me more courageous
Because I had traveled so extensively before college, I wasn’t afraid to branch out on my own and make my own memories. Spending time away from home with my parents gave me the courage to spend a lot more time away by myself. I’ve done some really cool things by myself like working on a dude ranch, couchsurfing in Brussels, and taking a birthday trip to London solo, and I truly believe I was brave enough to do all of that because my parents made it a point to expose my brother and I to new cities and take us on adventures.
It made me appreciate my parents more
Like I said before, my parents have been divorced for a long time. Taking trips with each of them made me love and appreciate them even more. Looking back, I can’t believe all the places my parents dragged my brother and I to. Can you imagine taking two elementary school kids on a week-long vacation by yourself? I certainly can’t, but my parents did it a lot, and continue taking us places to this day (good to know my brother and I didn’t break them when we were younger. That would have been unfortunate…).
While the vacations themselves have given me amazing memories with my parents, the simple fact that one parent let the other take us kids away for a week has also impacted me. Although I know parents need some breaks from their kids to maintain their sanity, I’m sure it was tough to let us kids go away for a week with the other parent.
For example, I’ve spent quite a few Christmases away from my mom because my dad was working overseas or wanted to take us somewhere for the holidays. She could’ve thrown a fit about it, but instead she let us have our adventures. I didn’t realize how big of a deal that was until I got older, and I’m so thankful that both of my parents always but my brother and I first so we could travel the world and see so many new things.
It made me dream big
Above all else, traveling made me work extra hard to achieve my big dreams. Growing up, I always said that I wanted to move to New York to be on Broadway. While the stage likely isn’t in my future, I did take the leap of faith and moved out to NYC last year. I also studied abroad for six months and loved every minute of it, and while in Europe I traveled extensively by myself.
I didn’t do any of those things on the fly though. I saved my money and spent it wisely to make my dreams a reality. I learned from those early family vacations that traveling costs money and that you need to work hard to take those well-deserved breaks.
I’ve known for a long time how much exciting world there is to explore, and traveling as a child gave me a serious case of wanderlust that I doubt will ever go away. These are just a few of the reasons I’m forever thankful my parents made the time to take my brother and I on vacations, as their choice to show us the world has impacted me greatly.
What’s your favorite family vacation been? I’d love to hear some of your stories!