Small town Iowa girls don't often take far trips from home. From birth to age 17 the longest trip I had taken was a three-hour road trip to my uncle's house in Weeping Water, Nebraska. Then my mom blew everything out of the water. Attempting to get me away from an abusive high-school boyfriend, she loaded me on a plane and sent me 8 flight hours away to the European continent.
Now, don't go thinking this was normal for my family. We grew up on hand-me-down clothes and Hamburger Helper with twice the noodles and half the meat. Fate just happened to intervene that year and I became the first student hosted by our local Lions Club in a Youth Camp and Exchange Program. Traveling to Brussels with 25 Iowa teenagers and then embarking on a 6-week solo adventure with host families in the Netherlands was the most frightening enterprise imaginable.
I came home at the end of that summer an altogether different girl (yes, I did get rid of the loser of a boyfriend soon after). Wanderlust has been a part of me ever since. It prompted me to study Hospitality Management and released me from the Midwest to see the world. Working seasonal hotel jobs, I lived on Cape Cod in Massachusetts and all over the state of Alaska. Because they were seasonal jobs, and in the tourism industry, I was also afforded months of open-ended travel. My mid-twenties found me gallivanting around the globe and culminated in a 4-month backpacking/cruising trip that hopped from the Caribbean to western Mexico, from southeast Asia to Australia and New Zealand. Those are the days that spoiled me!
|My 1st trip away from home,|
at the Kinderdijk in the Netherlands
I'm married to a native Utahn and that has been my dwelling place for the past 9 years. Within 9 months of moving here I had experienced more of what this diverse state has to offer than a close friend who'd been going to school here more than 3 years. As a married couple, and now as a family with four young boys, we've made it a priority to continue getting out to see what there is to see.
People often give us long sideways glances after hearing of the next trip we're planning or reading about our latest exploits on our family blog, It's What We Do. What they usually fail to understand is that while they're spending their expendable cash on clothes, eating out, and movies, we're bundling ours together and escaping the humdrum of our every day lives. The ultimate example of these glances, and our own sacrifices, was a 6-week trip to Europe in celebration of my husband's college graduation and our oldest son's 1st birthday. More than anything, traveling with my family proves to myself that I am still me and the doors of the world didn't close when I said, "I do."
|At the baron's house in Yvoirre, France|
A day does not go by without me gazing out my window wondering where else there is to be. Traveling is now inherently in me. I used to passionately proclaim that, "You don't have to settle down until your kids are in school!" I want my family to share the world with me. Some argue that toddlers and infants are too little to even know, that world travel is wasted until they're old enough to read about the places they are going. I don't agree. My 5-year-old son (you'll get to know him as "B") is a map-lover! He will stop every 10 steps on a trail or in a museum, lay down his map, and recalculate which way we should be heading. I want him and his brothers to start out right from the beginning with a love and appreciation like that for exploring.
|Navigating in Arches National Park|
The truth is, kids can do complete K-12 programs online now. No one around me should be surprised the day I sell off all our things and strike out permanently on the open road. The world doesn't have to settle in on me!
Updated and Revised
from original post on Wandering Still