Birthday Reflections: How Important is Travel?
All week I’ve been planning today’s post in my head. It was going to be titled “10 Reasons You Should Go to Botswana Right Now” . . . or something to that effect. It sounds good, right? I may get that one out next week. But as I was sitting there thinking last night, I realized that today was my birthday. If I were to honor my celebratory day (after all, we get one special day for ourselves each year, right?), then I would write something that’s special to me.
Not that I don’t love writing about specific travel destinations. I just prefer penning more self-reflective pieces. And as I mentioned in my last post, I really miss writing. I don’t do a whole heck of a lot for myself these days. I have a new little human to care for, and I absolutely love caring for her. So I am taking some time now- on my birthday- to do something for me; sit here, reflect and write.
I’d like to talk about travel for a moment. I started this site because I’m extremely passionate about traveling and writing. People travel for different reasons: vacation, curiosity, boredom, education, relaxation…. I travel for the journey, both of the soul and mind. I look for transformational experiences- even on something as tourist-focused as a cruise. Each time I go anywhere, my primary goal is to learn, experience and grow. I have an insatiable curiosity and appetite for knowledge.
The journeys we take through life don’t always necessitate flying on an airplane or driving great distances, though. I’ve been thinking a lot about life and my situation lately. Having a child really changes things (what everyone says seems to be true!). It’s amazing to feel the depth of love that comes with having a baby. It makes all the difficult times (and there are plenty! how can something so tiny be such hard work!) worth it.
But I’ve been feeling that nagging pull at my heartstrings. When something comes along that changes your lifestyle permanently, it’s tough to adjust. I’m sitting here typing, trying to concentrate while listening to my baby girl cry in the bathtub with her daddy. Should I go get her? No. Focus. Write.
You see, I used to have the relative freedom to travel when and how I wanted. Now, I have an adorable little tether grounding me to my home. I’ve always fully intended on traveling with children, and I know I will, it just won’t be as footloose and fancy free as I’m used to. Think about all that baby gear! Not to mention timing travel to fit in with a three hour cyclical routine of nursing, wake time, sleeping (and staving off those piercing unhappy cries!).
Besides that, my husband has a near 100% veto on my travel plans now (since I have to bring baby along, at least for the next year). I’m definitely not used to that! Getting his buy-in can be pretty difficult when it comes to travel. Honey, I think I want to go to Nepal, and I’m going to bring our baby. Yea, right! (But that would be amazing, right?)
I’m starting to feel a slow change in mindset. I’ve been so focused for so long on experiencing other countries and cultures, mostly to satiate my own curiosity and thirst for knowledge of the world and myself. I guess you can equate it to those who are permanent students, wanting to constantly learn from the classroom (I have a bit of that in me as well).
What I’m starting to realize is that there are so many things to experience and learn about in life, so many personal journeys we take as human beings that happen closer to home than half-way around the world.
My internal struggle now is determining how to balance my drive and determination to see the world with the need to let go and focus on nurturing and shaping the life of my child and participating in our family, which will include traveling, but not center around it. In other words, my priorities are shifting.
For as long as I can remember, I would feel restless, as if I was wasting my days unless I went somewhere new every three to six months. I don’t collect countries or stamps in my passports. I don’t want bragging rights or to one-up anyone. I simply want to experience as much as possible of our beautiful planet and interact as often as I can with different types of peoples. I don’t think I’m unique in feeling this way by any stretch. That’s why many people travel and have travel blogs or websites.
I’m just realizing now that there is something so much more important to focus on! I guess I’m having trouble adjusting to how I see myself in the context of the world and where I channel my energy. As people, we’re constantly learning, changing and growing.
What I’m wondering is, does having a child spur a paradigm shift in most people’s lives? Whether your focus is travel/exploration or something else: running a company, owning a small business, teaching, going to school… I guess I could ask this about any profession. Most people figure it out with day care or nannies. But travel is different in the sense that it takes you away. This applies more to women than men, but most women can’t be away from a baby for more than a day for the first 6 months to a year (if breast feeding… professionals can pump at the work place). Then beyond a year, you have to consider your child in any traveling decision that takes you away for any significant amount of time.
In summary, the method/style/duration/type of travel must change for me, at least temporarily. Also, my focus is shifting towards the much bigger picture of nurturing my child and family as a whole, less on my own personal experiences. I guess that’s what it means to grow up and start taking care of others. I’ve resisted “growing up” for a while now… I guess at 35, it’s about time.