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Our mission, here on Albany Kid Family Travel, is to inspire lifelong learners to travel. But what inspired us to travel in the first place?
EasyJet Holidays is seeking an answer in an Inspiration Initiative meme contest which asks bloggers to share the Who, What, When and Where motivating their travels. I’m going to take a stab at this, but I would also love to hear from you – consider yourself tagged.
Since my travels began at the ripe old age of 9-months-old on a pilgrimage to Luján, you could say that the person who inspired this was the one who carried me – my abuela. But the truth is that inspiration bled through from generations of travelers – from the ancestor who helped settle Rhode Island to the fearless woman, my mother, who recently scoured Peru in search of a good shaman.
Family inspires most of my travel. As I explained in Vignettes in a History of Family Travel, family travel is how we connect the displaced village raising our children. And yet, even if by some miracle, all of my extended family resided in one geographical region, I would still travel. Curiosity and an insatiable need to never stop learning demands nothing less.
The first time I traveled alone, it was 1980 and I was fifteen-years-old. My parents sent me on a courier mission to Bogota, Colombia to carry the payroll – $8000 in cash – to a short-lived leather factory venture in a not-too-savory part of the city. It was frightening as hell. I was strip-searched, and all through the trip I feared losing the unbearably heavy load. But I was young and stupid, and I had no idea that there was much more to fear than merely losing money.
As a parenting tactic, this was both incredibly careless and brilliant. On that trip, I saw a world that I didn’t know existed – extreme poverty, homeless children begging just outside the factory door – and I vowed that someday I would follow a career path that would allow me to speak for those children. And, of course, travel would always have to be a part of the career equation, for how else would I continue learn about our world?
On a short leg of the Annapurna circuit in Nepal in 1990, struck by the intense beauty and majesty of the Himalayan mountains, I turned to my partner, who would someday become the father of my children, and vowed that we had to return. I actually told this man, whom I had known less than a year, that if we ever married and had children, we would have to bring them to this spot.
Twenty-two years later, we are planning to return this summer to finally tackle the full Annapurna circuit with our two kids.
As a parent, I have made showing my children the world in which we live in – its beauty and its warts – a central element of our lives. Travel is how we learn about our world, it is what ignites the desire to make a difference. It’s who we are, and who we want to be.
Inspiration Initiative Nominees:
Special thanks to Jessica at Suitcases and Sippy Cups for nominating me, and now I’m passing the baton to: