To Inspire in My Children…
I am the father of three truly beautiful boys. While all three are good looking in the physical sense, a testament I suppose to their mothers, they each shine in their own way more so for their personalities than anything one can record with a photograph.
Travel has become a major part of my life. Believe it or not, though, I never really had much of an urge to adventure before my oldest son, Tristan, was born. I grew up in a small town outside of Pittsburgh, went to the city for college, and sort of imagined I’d move home and find work and live out my days. It was only after he came into my life that I began to realize how limited I would be for the rest of my days, or at least while he was a boy under my roof. I suppose the fact that, at least the way I saw it, I could never travel now and since I wasn’t able to do it, I wanted it all the more.
I began going on roadtrips, my first cross-country in 2004, and was immediately hooked. Life progressed and I realized that Tristan, or any amount of children, didn’t have to mean that travel was out of the picture. Raising children on the road, I believe, is every bit as good, if not significantly better, than doing so in a solitary location.
What I Hope Traveling Gives my Children
- A Sense of Urgency. The people of the world use religion all too often, in my opinion, as justification for a life less-lived. The promise of a greater place after death is enough, for many, to justify not doing everything you want to in this life. If there is an afterlife, I’m sure I’ll be excited to experience it. But that is not an excuse for half-assing this one. I hope that travel teaches my children how important it is to follow your dreams, even if theirs don’t turn out to be traveling, seeing me grasping at my own should be inspiration enough.
- Tolerance. By seeing how different the world can be, realizing that not everyone shares your own viewpoints, a person is given a better shot at accepting differences in people rather than fearing them. I hope that travel teaches my children to tolerate other races, ethnicities, religions (or lack thereof) and cultural norms.
- Experience. There is no better teacher than life, and the more varied your experiences are in life, the better a person all around you will become. Just as a painter who has only ever had the color red to work with will be limited in what he can do, so will a person who has spent their entire life in one corner of the world. I hope that travel affords my children the full range of colors this world can provide.
- Economic Opportunity. Finally, travel has the ability to inspire people to be economically independent. The very act of being a full-time traveler eliminates, for most of us who do it, the ability to have a job where you are not your own boss. Being a freelancer puts you in control of your expenses, your income. The more you work, the more you make. The less you work, the more free time you have. You become the determiner of your own fate. Additionally, feeling comfortable picking up and going on a whim gives you the ability to move to a place with more economic opportunity, even if they don’t want to be freelancers or entrepreneurs, being able to move from a depressed area of the country to a blossoming one is a true gift.
Further, the typical arguments–children need structure, they need friendships that last longer than a few weeks, connections to extended family are weakened, homeschooling doesn’t work–have simply proven to fall short over the course of our life. Tristan has been on the road, traveling from state to state since he was in first grade, nearly half of his life. He is an incredibly social kid who can make friends with nearly anyone in less time than it takes most of us to work up the nerve to talk to a stranger in line at the grocery store. Friendships are not always required to involve physical contact; indeed most of my best friends live nowhere near me, and I only knew them for a short time initially in person. Now we keep in touch over email or occasional phone calls and anytime we’re near one another we make a point to spend oodles of time together. As for homeschooling not working, again, Tristan has gone to public school for the past year while we were pregnant with our latest child, at his request, and he’s been an all A’s student, even without the traditional early years of learning in the hallowed halls of our “get ’em ready for the factory” outdated mode of learnin’.