Having wanderlust isn’t something that stops once you have kids, despite incessant belaboring of the many difficulties of traveling with kids. Many jet-setters and road-warriors have become parents and passed on their passions to their little ones. In fact, wanderlust kind of magnifies itself after you become a parent because all you want to do is show your kids the world.
Before I ever got pregnant or even thought about having kids, I was a bit of a vagabond. To me, life was never better than when I was wandering from city to city, riding busses and trains, sleeping on strangers couches, making friends wherever I went. I loved the freedom, the excitement, the lack of schedule or routine. Back then, I thought I might never stop.
But life has a way of changing things on you unexpectedly and I now find myself living a calmer life with my one-year-old son. And while I may not be closing out bars in Philly or wandering a campus in Ohio or having 5 a.m. beignets in New Orleans, that doesn’t mean I don’t eventually plan on taking new adventures — I'll just likely be bringing my kid along with me.
Most importantly, having wanderlust imbues you with an appreciation and understanding of different cultures, different ways of life, and different ways of seeing the world. It’s not something everyone has, and it’s definitely something that makes us amazing parents. These are just a few ways our love of travel equips us to raise our kids in a truly awesome fashion:
We Turn Everyday Errands Into Full-On Adventures
Parenthood is full of mundane tasks like trips to the grocery store or the post office or to buy your kid some new shoes. For some, these things might feel like chores. But for the wanderlustful parent, it’s an opportunity to show your kid how fun going anywhere can be. I love taking my son grocery shopping. Our local store has these great plastic shopping carts in the shapes of cars and I make it so he feels like he’s driving us to exotic places where we pick up (and learn about) tropical fruits and European pastries and even some locally brewed beer (for mom, duh).
We Aren’t Afraid To Explore New Places
When I was a kid, my parents mostly kept me within the same neighborhoods. (Miami in the '80’s was apparently a bit more dangerous than it is today.) As an adult, I’ve come to explore practically all the neighborhoods here in South Florida, from Florida City to Aventura, and I love finding myself in areas I still haven’t been to with my son in tow. I get that this is a very micro version of wanderlust, but the underlying motivator is the same: I've developed a love of branching out of my comfort zone, and have seen the immense benefits in doing so. And because I’ve traveled on my own so much — both within my own neighborhood and around the world — I’m not scared to check out new areas and I know this will help my son to also enjoy a bit of fearlessness as he gets older.
When It Comes To New Challenges, We Keep Our Cool
Travelers tend to know that things don’t always go the way we planned and are pretty good about bouncing back when a challenge arises. When you’ve got a toddler, there are new challenges every day: Running out of baby wipes, dropping a bowl full of food, having your baby accidentally delete something important from your phone, pouring milk all over the sofa, potty training in general... it never stops. And yet, we know that it’s not the end of the world and are excellent at keeping our cool and staying positive. This will help our littles with their coping skills once they begin to face their own challenges.
We Enjoy Teaching Our Kids About Different Cultures
Rather than simply discussing our own culture(s), wanderlustful parents are often excited to talk about the cultures of others. We like to explain to our kids that while we may live a certain way (eat certain foods, sleep on certain types of beds, enjoy certain forms of entertainment, etc.), there are people all over the world who live in entirely different ways. We aim to teach our children that different does not necessarily equate to bad or good, and that we should accept others for their differences rather than shun them or belittle their culture in any way. Basically, we are big on teaching empathy and trying to give our kids a perspective that doesn't place American way of life at the definitive center of the universe.
We Also Enjoy Participating In Different Customs And Rituals
Like most kids in our area, we like to take our son to places like the park and the library and the children’s museum and the zoo. But perhaps unlike other parents, we also take our son to places like our local Thai Buddhist temple, French bakeries, Mexican Day of the Dead celebrations, Chinese New Year festivals — it's not always possible to physical travel around the world, but the desire to understand and experience parts of other places is always there. We want him to see for himself the richness of others’ customs and rituals up close.
We Are Often Multilingual And Want To Pass That On To Our Kids
Those who travel (or would really like to) have a tendency to want to learn other languages. Being multilingual is useful, whether you love traveling or not, but if you do, it's almost an essential tool to have. Sure, you won't always end up traveling to places where that language is of use to you, but hey, it definitely gives you a better chance of encountering people you have the ability to communicate with when necessary.
I’m fortunate enough to be bilingual (thanks, mom and dad!) and know a tad bit of French (enough to communicate the fact that my French is quite poor and also that I am hungry). I am raising my son to be bilingual and will encourage him to learn as many languages as possible because I know that will give him a leg up on life no matter where he goes or what he does.
We Tend To Go Big When It Comes To Holidays
This kind of goes back to the participating in different customs point, except it has to do with our own customs. Travelers frequently enjoy celebrating things, and this comes through when it comes to holidays. And I’m not just talking about the winter holidays, but all holidays. I love decorating and planning meals and even hosting small gatherings (Festivus party at my house this year!) and many other wanderlustful mamas do as well, incorporating traditions they may have encountered on the road into their own at-home festivities.
We Will Make Sure Our Kids Travel, No Matter What
The most important thing about how wanderlustful parents raise their kids is that they will do whatever it takes to make sure their kids get to travel as well. Growing up, my family wasn’t able to do much traveling. Our “family vacations” consisted of a long day of driving down to the Florida Keys, having a picnic, and driving back home again before the night ended. I didn’t go on my first plane ride until I was 18, and I didn’t leave the country until I was 20. I already have plans to take my son out of state and also out of the country (first and foremost to meet his great-grandmother in Nicaragua). If you’re a parent who loves travel, there is no way in hell you won’t sacrifice all that you can to someday make it possible for your child to travel as well, even if it isn’t immediate. And more importantly, you teach your kids that the experiences and perspective they'll gain from traveling are infinitely more valuable than anything else they could buy with their money.