I've never been very good standing still. As long as I can think, I've felt an insatiable hunger to learn, understand, see and experience new things. From an early age, my parents took me travelling what felt like half of the world. While I don't remember the details of everywhere we've been, I remember the sense of wonder and curiosity it instilled in me.
After I left school, I travelled, lived, studied and worked abroad extensively - being on the move just seems to be the essence of who I am in a way. So it was only natural, that it is something I wanted my children to be exposed to from an early age.
Recent studies have shown the immediate and long-lasting effects travelling at a young age can have on the brain development of children. According to Professor Jaak Panksepp (neuroscientist at Washington State University), during travelling, children are exercising two genetically ingrained systems deep in the brain’s limbic area, which can all too easily be ‘unexercised’ in the home. Travelling, i.e. exposing children to an ‘enriched environment’ offers new experiences that are strong in combined social, physical, cognitive and sensory interaction (Hannan 2014).
It is believed that these enriched environments turn on the genetic expression of key ‘brain fertilisers’ in the frontal lobes, enhancing executive functions such as stress regulation, attention, concentration, good planning and ability to learn, also improving physical and mental health, while fostering family bonding and emotional attachment. They also state that these systems are like muscles: the more they are used, the more they become part of one’s personality - “Emotional states become personality traits” (Bruce Perry, neuroscientist).
Since our boys where only a few months old, we have been taking them to a variety of places. It has been mind boggling to witness, how much, with every trip, they grow in so many different ways. Every time we go somewhere, they make incredible developmental leaps.
So encouraged by our own experiences as well as the numerous long-term travel families out there, we are following our hearts and taking the plunge to give up settled life for a while to travel full time for a while!
So we will be starting off in China, where we will stay a few months to spend time with family and introduce the boys to an essential part of their heritage. But we only have a rough idea for the rest of the route (SEA, Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, USA). We would like to be flexible and take it a day at a time - let intuition guide us, be inspired by people along the way - just be free to do what feels right for everyone involved at a given time. So while we’ve given ourselves a timeline of a round about a year, we want to keep it flexible to meet everybody’s needs. It goes without saying that the children’s well-being will be of highest priority.
But we have set ourselves the condition to do it as consciously and sustainably as we can. In light of the climate crisis, we would like to minimise our impact in any way possible: public transport (instead of planes and individual cars), low impact accommodation (instead of resorts), eating and buying local, low waste alternatives (we're travelling with a variety of reusable gear), (no animal cruelty goes without saying) etc. It shall be interesting how we get on, I will certainly report.
Moreover, we would like to do some volunteering for community grassroots projects, so if you know any local organisations that deserve special attention and support, please do let us know!