Saturday, May 30, 2009

West Africa (and why travel?)

We've done some research, made appointments with doctors, started a packing list and have booked our flights! We're off to West Africa in the summer!! Neither of us needed convincing that now is a good time to go, given that my brother will be working there for a few months this year and travelling with someone else will make it a little easier and more fun! And even better, Jo, Caitlin and Billy will also be coming.

When we tell people we are going, we get a mixture of reactions. Many think it's great, others worry about the wee ones. Well, each to their own, hey ? :)

Anyway, a couple of months ago I drafted a post about travel that I never actually published. I thought I might do it now in the hope it convinces Granny and Grandad not to worry, we've thought about what we're doing! :)

First though, here are a couple of websites about travel with children that I've liked recently. Here and here.

One of them has this saying on it, which I love...

Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.

Here's the old post, from back in February...

We are in the process of doing a drastic overhaul of our family's financial management system. So as part of that we've been thinking about what we spend our money on and what we're saving for. Obvious really. Anyway, travel is something we agree is very important so while driving the car earlier I was thinking about WHY travel is so important to me. Steve was doing likewise and I'll try to encourage him to write down his thoughts too.
I don't know whether I'll actually post this because it will probably make me sound like a pretentious know-it-all. Quite accurate then :)

So, why is it important that my children travel? I think it's all about having a broader perspective and better understanding of the world. I hope it will help them be open-minded, empathetic, more respectful of people's differences and excited by our similarities, less quick to judge or be negative, more sensitive to issues of social justice, more determined to make a difference in some way... And that's just to do with people. I also think it will help them feel a bit closer to nature and more engaged with the world around them and its awesome awesomeness, full of awe and wonder... And it will foster an understanding of the interconnectedness of eveything. Did I mention the awe and wonder to be found in the world?
Not to mention getting some street smarts and being travel savvy, and not viewing every little thing that goes "wrong" as a huge problem. It's often when faced with difficulties we learn the most and have the best experiences. And isn't that true of life in general??

So I hope we can introduce our children to the wider world and give them the tools to help them interpret it in their own way. If the travel bug doesn't bite then that'll be fine, but I'd like to encourage it!

What about all the problems inherent in travel? I don't mean that you have to carry stuff and sleep in beds with bed bugs, or that babies cry on aeroplanes or whatever. I mean the debate that continually bounces back and forth in my head. Travel is a luxury and it's unfair that I should be able to do it. Not to mention the awful consequences of tourism on many people and places in the world. I won't get started on that now. Suffice to say that we do our best to travel responsibly and ethically, to tread as lightly as possible and to share and learn rather than take and preach.

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