I have traveled to more than 50 countries in the past 20 years, a point of pride that came from choosing an alternative lifestyle -- one of independence, freedom, and risk. These qualities have always been a part of my identity, my authentic soul. Without owing myself, or my time, to anyone, I was free to explore the world how I pleased.
Having my daughter, Ava, four years ago began a transformation of my identity, and with it, anxiety. How would my identity in travel be affected by the potential limitations of having to care for another person? Would I forever be relegated to hotels and baby carriages, never to venture forth into the truly captivating locations off the beaten path?
Quite the contrary. While the first few years of motherhood are not without obvious limitations, as Ava has grown older I have slowly introduced her to the globetrotting lifestyle that will provide her with an understanding and appreciation of cultures, and undoubtedly make her a more curious, educated, and interesting human being.
In fact, Ava has offered me something priceless as well. She has given me new eyes to see the world, and a fresh perspective through the lens of innocence. There have been innumerable moments where she has perceived a city in ways I never would have considered, her joy on display at the discovery.
No matter how open-minded we consider ourselves to be, we are all victims of our own point of view. There is no better way to challenge your expectations and expose your preconceptions than by marveling at a young arm outstretched, pointing at something you never would have noticed and perhaps never would have appreciated.
For example, recently on our journey in Costa Rica, Ava noticed a "wishing flower" (a dandelion for those of you who couldn't guess), and wished for a unicorn to pick her up and take her to Tinkerbell's house. After only blowing off half of the seeds, she offered me the other half. My wish, of course, was for these moments to continue.
If you have children, I encourage you to give you both the gift of travel. It will reinvigorate the well-worn traveler. And for those who seldom travel, give yourself the excuse to begin to with your son or daughter.