Tonight I am starting to think about the travel that will be a part of my spring and early summer. When I was a kid, I rarely traveled much more than a couple of hours from home by car. In fact, I only flew on a couple of occasions before I graduated from high school. To put this in perspective, my daughter had more frequent flier miles by the time she turned two than I had at age thirty.
I treasure her first passport picture.
I wonder what the lasting effects are of travelling when one is young. How does travel affect one’s worldview? Will the experiences my daughter had when she was between two and seven give her a life-long travel bug? I want her to have a desire to GO(!) when she has opportunities.
I remember when we told her in early 2010 that we were going to North Africa for the better part of the summer. She immediately wanted to find Egypt and Tunisia on the globe, to see how far around the planet they were from Cleveland, Ohio where we lived at the time. I want that curiosity and enthusiasm to last.
I know this isn’t just about globes and international flights, however. It is about a desire to have my daughter feel she can access the world and can affect it. I want her to be engaged, deeply so, in the life she leads as a student, as an adult, and as a lifelong learner, and when I talk about wanting her to have a travel bug, I really want her to bring a spirit of adventure to all that she does. I am interested in how a school might help guide young people to lead such lives.
When I was about to turn seven in June of 1972, my family went to New Orleans so that my father might attend an American National Red Cross meeting. We took the overnight train from Virginia, and I remember the powerful feeling of it seeming to glide across the water as it neared our destination. I remember seeing the recently completed Super Dome from the taxi, swimming in the hotel’s rooftop pool, melting in the humidity, and seeing the Mississippi—I think we took a riverboat ride. I also remember my parents wondering out loud what I would eat while I was there since I was quite the picky eater. Quietly offended, I resolved to eat anything put in front of me for the entire trip. On the way home we flew—my first flight, and the plane it seemed to me had to head straight up to avoid rotten weather descending on the Gulf Coast. My father, from whom I inherited ears that popped painfully, gave me gum to chew, as well as advice to swallow often in order to relieve the pressure, and the flight attendant gave me plastic Eastern Airlines wings. I remember more about that trip than I do anything else from that year (or two). I felt brave and adventurous, and it was not lost on me even then that my personal known world had just gotten much bigger.
Over Spring Break my wife, daughter and I will go to New Orleans. Even before this next family trip, my daughter’s known world is already impressively big. I wonder what she is going to do with such a thing.
In the next few months I will travel to Seattle, WA, New Orleans, LA, Cupertino, CA, and Honolulu, HI. I will have my gum ready for each flight–Trident, Cinnamon Trident, thank you–and I will be ready to swallow often as we ascend.