Why We Travel…
I remember it clearly… my daughter was 3, and the days started to blur together. She was in daycare, I was working on my business, and my husband was at work. Each day was the same.
We got ready in the morning, dropped off our daughter at daycare, went to work, worked all day, came back home, cooked dinner, had dinner together, put our daughter to bed (hoping she wouldn’t wake up 10x that night), and had a glass of wine to de-stress from the day.
This is probably the same routine for many parents with young kids.
Every weekend was almost the same for us. Sometimes our daughter had a gym class or swimming class in the morning. Then we’d go grocery shopping and walked around our neighborhood. Maybe we’d grab a coffee at Starbucks right around the corner just to get out of our home.
We had pretty much the same routine almost every single weekend. We had been to almost every store on the street and every restaurant in our neighborhood. Even though we lived in a nice area in Brooklyn with lots of shops and restaurants, we still ran out of new things to see and do. We weren’t even living in a suburb, yet the days seemed to blur together, and we ran out of things to do!
I remember thinking how dreadful this would be if we just lived the same routine over and over again forever… like Groundhog Day.
Some people love and thrive on routine. I am just not one of those people. I thrive on novelty, change, and growth. The more routine everything became, the more I felt like I was dying inside. Could I survive 10 more years of this???
Somehow, three years flew by after my daughter was born, and I felt like we had done nothing except move homes, set up our new homes, work, and worry about nap schedules and what to feed her.
I knew something had to change. We needed to do something exciting, otherwise I could see myself falling into depression and just sleeping more and more. It had already started. My health was deteriorating, and I was just not happy.
Out of despair and depression, I dug deep to figure out why I felt so horrible, and what would made me feel alive again. After a lot of soul searching, I discovered that the answer was that the monotony of life was killing my soul, and the antidote would be adventure and travel.
My dream, I discovered, was to travel around the world and live on different continents for different parts of the year. It was such a far fetched dream for me! Discovering and then igniting this dream was how our family travels finally began!
Travel was what I did before my daughter was born. I even took a job that required me to travel because I loved it so much! After becoming a mother, I gave it up completely. I had this limiting belief that I couldn’t travel after having kids.
So many things prevented us from traveling – our finances, lack of my husband’s vacation time, the work to make it happen, and the thought of a crying baby on an airplane. After I gave up one of my biggest passions, I started to see myself shrivel up inside.
I decided I was no longer going to let anything in the way of my own happiness… my health was at stake here… quite literally. I exhibited many symptoms that were preventing me from living a normal, quality life.
I had been to doctors, a chiropractor, and healers of all sorts, but no one could diagnose what was wrong with me. I was suffering from so much fatigue, dehydration, digestive issues, and excessive sleep, and I wasn’t getting any better.
My health issues and my struggles were why we put my daughter in daycare in the first place. I was struggling to survive and could barely take care of my own health. I felt like I was dying. How could I take care of baby or toddler? I was just relieved every day that I had kept her alive!
I remember begging my husband for some help. I couldn’t take care of her alone until he finally came home at 11pm from work. He was bailing out the government after the big market crash, and it was essential for him to work long hours at the time. I just didn’t know why it had to happen right after my daughter was born. I resented not having any help or support.
It was an unsustainable life for the both of us. Despite our tight financial situation, my husband finally agreed to enrolling my daughter daycare. My life was at stake here. I wasn’t physically able to take care of her anymore. I was so relieved.
Daycare helped, but the stress of finances didn’t. Trying to build a new business when I wasn’t even clear on what business to create ended up making me more stressed out. I had just graduated from Parsons to pursue a career change into fashion design. I felt like I was going in circles. I needed a break, and I needed something to ignite some life back into me again.
So, after much deliberation with my husband, we decided to travel again as a family. We weren’t able to take a year or two off to travel the world (which was my dream), but we started to take vacations that hit our travel bucket lists.
And then I started to come back to life again.
During so much of our lives, we are grinding it out… working hard at work, working to be good parents, taking care of all of our responsibilities, and somewhere along the way, we forget to fuel our own happiness.
I learned the hard way just how important it is to fuel our own hearts while we are taking care of our little ones. Often we give, give, and give some more, sacrificing everything to take care of our kids. Soon, we end up giving up everything that makes us us, that brought us joy, and we lose ourself in the process. We do it all for the sake of our children, but what our children actually need are happy parents with energy to keep up with them and develop a good relationship with them!
As parents, when we don’t refuel with joy along the way, we end up finding coping mechanisms instead. That also became true for us with a weekly wine habit that soon became a daily one.
Instead of coping, if we fueled ourselves by living out our own desires and dreams too (not just our childrens’), we would have more energy to do everything else in life. Our happiness helps us be more productive along the way!
What fills you up may be different than what fills me up. For me it is learning and adventure! I’m a learner and explorer by nature, and I find I’m happiest when learning, exploring, or creating something new. It’s so important to reflect and figure out what fills you up so that you can find little ways to add more of it into your life.
The Beginning of Our Travels
We made a huge change after that initial realization about my dreams for travel. We took a big trip for my husband’s 40th birthday to 3 different countries. I went back to school again to fulfill a dream I had to go to learn how to cook healthy gourmet food. I had thought I would learn once I retired, but a God kept nudging me inside to do it now, so I applied and enrolled in culinary school. That was another amazing adventure for me that maybe I’ll share one day.
After that, we orchestrated a financially difficult move back into Manhattan, to be closer to the whole reason we wanted to move to NYC in the first place — to add more fun into our lives again!
That year, we also made a commitment to ourselves. We decided we would make sure we took at least 1 international trip every year, and 2 domestic ones. This would give us multiple trips to look forward to each year. No matter what our financial situation, we’d figure out a way to make it happen.
Since then, we’ve found excuses to travel to places on our bucket list. Here are some examples:
We went to Dhara Dhevi in Chiang Mai (our top bucket list item at the time) and did a 10 year wedding vow renewal ceremony there with our daughter. It felt like another wedding!
We took a multi-country baby moon in Europe to Iceland, Amsterdam, Santorini, and Positano while pregnant with our second child.
And we just recently went on an amazing multi-layover trip to fly in the hot air balloons in Bagan, Myanmar to celebrate my very belated 40th birthday! After seven long months of serious disappointment that I was not able to celebrate my 40th birthday, we finally made something happen. It was a serious bucket list dream come true!
We even managed to bring our daughter so much joy with all the fun Hello Kitty, Unicorn Cafe, Kidzania, and amusement parks around the world. For every adult activity we plan, we make sure to do something fun for the kids.
So, you see, this is why we travel. My soul wants to see the world. And I use big events in our life as an excuse to make it happen.
No more making excuses and denying myself everything joyful in life. We were not designed to be machines that just work, work, work with no joy or play. Even adults need to play and have fun to thrive.
Travel is my therapy. It’s expensive at times, but it brings us joy, improves my health, fulfills me on a a very deep level, and creates lasting memories for our whole family that we’ll remember for a lifetime.
Rather than taking trips that don’t mean much to us, we try to really plan for the ones that really fill us up with a sense of wonder and excitement. That’s why it’s so important to create a bucket list. Without one, you don’t know what you really, really want. You can read ours here.
And now, with this blog, we get to share these amazing experiences with you!
Do you make it a point to travel every year? If you do, why do you travel? If you don’t, why not? I would love to hear your why’s in the comments below!