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Texture of a good travel life (or why we take our kids along)

April 26, 2011

Colors and texture in Morocco

Two of the greatest gifts we can give our children are roots & wings.”- Hodding Carter

I recently came across this marvelous quote. It helps me answering the question why we take our children along on our global travels.

Some families have fears of doing the same thing we are doing. Others just disagree where they think young children should not be exposed to long haul travels, extremely different cultures and the dangers of strange diseases.

Providing texture

The world inspires: it makes us happy and makes us cry. The worlds truth can bring us to tears where hope makes us smile.

I want our children to know the truth in order to keep their hopes and needs in perspective. That’s one of the reasons why we love to have our children encounter different cultures and different people early in life.


The world is larger than our own backyard. I agree that ‘Everywhere is Illuminated’ (even in our own home town we sometimes forget to see the beauty of things) but I also know there is so much more.

When we have accepted our own world, we step up and suddenly discover a different person. A person with the anxiety to spead its wings and learn. We need wings. With these wings we start to collect stories from around the world that will enrich us, even enlighten us. The world is turning, but if you stay at one place you never experience its velocity.

How could you not want to live a travel life full of stories of Thai hospitality, Japanese courtesy, Indian extremities, European history or American grandness?

That is exactly the gift we want to give our children: wings.


Our childrens roots grow here in the Netherlands. We believe our country is one of freedom and honesty. We have decided not to go on long-term (rtw) travels with our children. Instead we pick a new destination two or three times a year.

Roots are strong but we need our wings to make them even stronger. By traveling our children will be taught about the variety in our world (good and bad).

I am sure they will appreciate their roots as much as their wings.

Next stop: New York.


From → Observations

  1. Very well said Emiel. May I say, your children are very, very lucky 🙂

  2. Love your spirit. We need more people in the world like you. What a great world it would be, Your children are lucky to have your spirit passed on to them.

  3. Beautifully written. roots and wings through travel…the best gift and education we can provide our children. well worth any sacrifice you make for it.

    • That’s so true Monique, I believe investing in travel is the best investment you can make. I know many people have fears because they think travel is too expensive. But there are a lot of different ways to travel and you don’t need to go far-away to discover awesome things!

  4. JennaFrancisco permalink

    Great post. I have two children (one is only 3 months old, so he hasn’t traveled yet), and we have taken the older one on many trips. We also believe in establishing good roots where we live but in opening his eyes and soul to the world around us by taking some big trips every year. Half of our family is in Brazil, so we go there every year to spend a few weeks with them and help our son continue to be bilingual. Thanks for the inspirational reminder about why we should travel with children!

    • I think you don’t need a reminder, but thanks! Where in Brazil does your family live?

      • JennaFrancisco permalink

        I may not really need the reminder, but because most of our traveling with our older son has been for overseas family visits, I sometimes wish we could do more traveling to new and exciting places. Then again, the trips to visit family do help spread our son’s wings, so to speak.
        My husband’s family live in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and in a small city north of Sao Paulo. Also, my father lives in Indonesia, but it’s harder to travel there because the flight is so long, and the risks are greater with young children. We did it with our son before he was 2 but will wait until our second child is over 2 before we go again.
        I’m happy to have found your site. I love sharing insights about traveling as a family.

  5. Travel in general helps children see beyond themselves- become independent, see their country or city in relation to the world around it allowing them to have a less self centered attitude, and see how other people do things differently and how that is good. Thus bringing on an open mindedness toward new experiences, change and people which will help them successfully adapt and meet the challenges they wil face as adults. It’s one of the great educators – ok- I guess I can get off the lectern now….sorry.

    • The blogosphere is everybody’s lectern Emily! You just re-wrote my blog post in different words, job well done.
      Traveling is a great educator indeed, I have to say I love the way you use your blog to explain to us the magic world that is called Japan.

      • You said that? I was so busy listening to myself talk I didn’t hear you! Actually, I was so busy repeating and memorizing at the foot of the sensei I got carried away! Kidding aside (hmm) I always find myself reading your posts and nodding along in agreement, furiously taking notes, or forwarding to everyone I know.

  6. Man, I love the rigorous paradox in the quote. It’s inspiring for me as an educator and, si Deus quizer, a dad someday…

    I think the right wanderlust is the recognition that the world is full of wonder, mystery, tragedy, comedy, and redemption–once we accept a few brutal facts (as you’ve described), we can provide our “future storytellers” with a more textured worldview.

    I trust they will illuminate the farthest corner of Mongolia and Siberia and Greenland..even the human-less Antarctican mythos.

    Great work,

    • Mark,
      That’s a paradox indeed. I guess that’s what made you a bit weirded out at first. Is it roots or is it wings? Or will the combination provide the best texture?
      We must illuminate both destinations, close by and far away. Where the one might have fear of illuminating the other, I want to highlight both of them.
      I am not there yet.

  7. jacquelincangro permalink

    Lovely quote. I also like Mark Twain’s words on travel:
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”

    I hope you have a wonderful time here in NYC. (Luna Park is scheduled to open next week.) I look forward to hearing all about your trip.

    • Thanks Jacquelin,
      I just read about this quote (which I love) and it said: Traveling opens the mind, but only for a mind which is already open.

      For sure I will share a lot of NYC stories! Looking forward to it.

  8. Your posts are absolutely wonderful! If you need help planning your NY trip, let me know. I’m now in Canada, but I’m a native New Yorker through and through!

  9. Emiel, the writing is going up a notch or two each time and your readers are growing. I really liked the short, punchy post here. And so glad to see you highlighted something that we talked about for the Fear-Crushing guide earlier last month. You make one amazing parent! Lucky, lucky those children of yours :)!

    • Thank you Farnoosh and yes, your Fear Crushing Travel Guide contains a lot of inspiration for new travel posts.

  10. ‘everywhere is illuminated’ … what a great expression. Might I add that ‘everyone’ is illuminated too and exposing your children to the wonders of travel is a terrific way to let their light shine as they grow.

    glad I dropped by 🙂

    • Beverly, I have to thank you for dropping by! The expression ‘Everywhere is Illuminated’ was launched in a blog post from Mark Robertson, you will love it for sure: All credits go to Mark.
      I fully agree with you that everyone is illuminated as well and that travel will sparkle your personality even more!
      Hope to speak to you soon.

  11. ilainie permalink

    Exquisite. Simply exquisite.

  12. Such powerful imagery of roots and wings. We went RTW with our daughter but after 1 year away chose to return home, to grow those roots. Very well written

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Spreading Our Child’s Wings « This Is My Happiness
  2. This Is My Happiness Spreading Our Child’s Wings

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