I’m a travel writer and editor and all-around wanderlust junkie. I guess I had always assumed that any kids of mine would turn out the same. While my 14-year-old daughter Stella looks to be heading down the backpacker/travel writer path and will probably put my extensive travels to shame one day, my 16-year-old daughter just isn’t that into it. She would rather hit up Lollapalooza than Laos, would rather check out the shopping mall than the Sahara. It confuses me, it annoys me, but here’s how I have learned to deal:
Just because she has other priorities now doesn’t mean they won’t change.
People change, that’s a given. Just because she isn’t interested in travel right now doesn’t mean that something won’t spark it for her later. Maybe it will be a boyfriend who invites her on a romantic surf trip to Uruguay. Maybe it will be accompanying her best friend on a rowdy road trip to Buenos Aires. Maybe it will be her dream job offer that happens to take her to Thailand.
It’s passion that I want to see her have. It doesn’t necessarily matter for what.
Travel makes me feel alive. It makes me feel like I am growing and learning. It makes me feel both independent and it makes me feel like I have community. I want my daughter to feel all of these things, and maybe she will because of her love of horse riding, or maybe because of a fashion business she starts. If she really knows what it feels like to be passionate about something, does it really matter if it didn’t come because of travel?
My travels are an example for her regardless.
She doesn’t have to accompany me on trips or even understand my love of travel, but what I hope she at least sees is a mom who is in love with life. A mom who has abundant curiosity and follows it. A mom who wants to question and be questioned while interacting with foreign cultures. A mom who takes risks, who throws herself into the unknown, and who trusts that everything on the road will work out to be one grand adventure no matter what.
Travel does not have to be somewhere far away or exotic.
I tend to think that travel doesn’t ‘count’ unless it’s a 38-hour plane ride away or in a place where I don’t speak a word of the language. I had to realize that while my daughter would probably not get excited about a girl trip to Rio, she could enjoy a weekend together at a spa in a cute little mountain town nearby (with good shopping). For her, being away from home was travel. In the end, we were spending time together in a new place, so that had to be considered a win-win.
She helps me to clarify exactly what I love about travel.
“You’re going to Kenya? Why the heck would you want to go there?”, “Why do you want to go hiking? Don’t you see enough trees from our back yard?” This type of constant questioning forces me to share exactly what it is about the adventure that excites me, what I hope to do, see, and learn there.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned through parenting is to embrace and celebrate each child’s individuality. I’m not here to make a little mini-me. As long as my travels inspire her in some way (even if it’s not to actually travel), and she fosters passion within her towards something that makes her glad to be alive, I’ve learned to be good with the fact that she couldn’t care less about travel.