My son learns all kinds of amazing things at school. He’s taught in English and Spanish. He has art class and yoga and P.E. He learns about different countries and culture.
I love that he’s soaking up so much knowledge in a structured environment. And I know that he’ll learn even more on the road.
I learned more during my first year of travel than I did in four years in university. When you’re exposed to so many new cultures and people and places, you can’t help but learn. You can’t help but have your entire paradigm challenged.
These are some of the things that I hope my son learns while we’re on the road.
1. We’re All The Same
As I met more and more people across the globe, I started to understand certain truths. The biggest one being that we are all the same. Yes, we come from different cultures and fit into different race categories and socioeconomic statuses and have different beliefs.
But as humans we all want the same things. A sense of belonging. Community. Love. Purpose and fulfillment. We want to laugh and enjoy life. We like to spend time with our friends and provide for our families. These are elements of life that connect us.
When my son looks at people from other backgrounds, I hope he learns to see how we’re the same and not just how we’re different.
2. Value Others
It’s a tendency for certain types of people to look down on others who never left the town/place they grew up in. As someone who explores, however, I immensely value the people who love where they live so much that they’ve made it their passion and sought to learn everything about it they can. They become walking history books, carriers of stories for the next generation. They enliven a place and give it a face.
I hope my son learns to value these people who on the surface appear to do the same thing day in and day out and maybe even have a boring life, but are the ones who embody the place.
Everyone on earth has a story. And everyone has some piece of knowledge that they can share with others. Approaching new people with humility opens us up to stepping into their world, seeing things from their perspective, and getting a peek into the way they live.
Humility enables greater connections with other humans and is a way to make our world bigger.
For someone as controlling as me, it took me awhile to realize that on the road, anything can happen, and it’s all out of our control except the way we react to it. Planes will be delayed. Taxis will be hard to find. We’ll get on the wrong bus or get off on the wrong stop. Our food might come out wrong, weather might keep us from doing some activity we had planned, and our itinerary might change.
And everything will happen much slower than you’re used to.
It’s all part of the travel experience. I hope he learns to let go of expectations and adopt a spirit of flexibility, looking at setbacks as opportunities.
5. Right Trust
When I visited the island of Lombok in Indonesia, I met a girl at an internet cafe who adopted me. She made friends with me and offered to show me around and take me to a few places on the island. We went to the beach together and I met her friend. Then we went to a club later that night. A couple days later, she picked me up on her motorbike and we went to a mall and she introduced me to a local snack I didn’t know about.
If I wouldn’t have trusted her, I wouldn’t have made any friends while I was there. Learning who to trust is one of the most important qualities of a traveler. If we don’t trust anyone, we aren’t going to enjoy all of the experiences available to us. If we trust the wrong people (like the main character in any Lifetime movie), we’re put in harm’s way.
I’ve relied completely on that internal guide to show me who to trust and who not to. Because I stepped out into trust, I’ve had a lot more fun that I would normally have had.