Travel really makes you a better person in every way imaginable. It makes you more compassionate, it makes you a better problem solver, it gives you perspective, it makes you adaptable, it literally changes you in every area of our life. It’s good for your mind, body and soul. It opens your horizons and governs how you feel and think. It really rounds out any and every school curriculum out there … it fact, it could possibly make school obsolete?
When we first started traveling we could not believe how truly blessed we were. I mean, here we were with an RV and the ability to put fuel in and simultaneously buy food for our family, something a large portion of the world’s population can’t do. Even here in the US the official poverty rate was 14.8% in 2014. In that year there were 46.7 million people living in poverty.
In a time in our life when we are praying for direction, knowing that we have the ability to make a difference in the lives of so many under-served people, we know we are extraordinarily blessed to be able to live this life and help people in need.
I mean this isn’t possible for many, for a huge host of reasons. And while we try to reach as many people as we can to inspire them and reflect upon them that travel is accessible to just about everyone regardless of financial constraints … it is not accessible to everyone.
And that, is another gift that travel has given us … the knowledge, the worldliness, the understanding that there is true need, true struggle, true pain in this world. We have been given the gift of being able to come completely outside of our own selves and be not only grateful for everything, but be more compassionate, more caring, and so much more service minded.
At home our children were being raised in a small town nestled between Aspen and Vail, affluence dripped from the skin of the people we were associated with. As did privilege and selfishness.
Money is the root of all in our small town. If you have money, you can buy the Police Chief, you can influence curriculum, you can own City Council, you can literally create laws that benefit you.
Dan and I were wary of our kids being raised here in a tourist town where homelessness was deemed an annoyance that negatively affected the town’s vibe. Come on, these are human beings who are down on their luck and our town is outlawing vagrancy and tearing down structures that serve as shelters for these men and women.
We wanted our children to be compassionate, loving, generous people who assist those in need for no other reason than because they have hearts.
We wanted them to be activists in the things they hold dear to their hearts as we are in those issues which tug at our heart strings.
And I’m not talking about Facebook activism, that’s meaningless. I’m talking honest to goodness boots on the ground, both physical and financial.
Now we don’t have much money to give, I mean our coffers aren’t very big, we can’t finance a soup kitchen or give housing to the poor or even the young pregnant girl, but remember this?
“He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury; and he saw a poor widow put in two copper coins. And he said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all the living that she had.”
And so, we don’t let our small givings deter us from giving. But it’s the physical act of giving ourselves that we are able to do with abundance … our time, our knowledge, our expertise, our skills, our labor … these are things we have in excess and when someone asks, we give.
We do so because we remember how touched we have been when complete strangers affect our lives so dramatically, for no other reason than pure goodness.
The time Kenny was literally fighting for his life in ICU after falling out of our parked car and the minister came and put hands on Kenny, invited me to do the same and literally changed the entire atmosphere with his prayer … God was in that room!
The time we were enjoying a rare night out for dinner and a man walked up and shook Dan’s hand, leaving a $100 bill behind.
The time in July I was experiencing a miscarriage and hundreds and hundreds of people joined a prayer chain for me and my baby … people who didn’t even know us personally were praying for our baby. Feel free to continue to pray, his name is Lucky.
I could go on and on about the complete selflessness that we have encountered on the road, but it’s more important to say it’s changed us. It’s changed our view of the human race.
It has also, unfortunately, imparted upon us the fact that there are so many with so much less and in such dire straights that anything we could find to complain about would be outlandish to those with real difficulties.
I know parents with children suffering from cancer, I know children with parents suffering from cancer. I saw cancer first hand when my dad got sick,. It’s ugly, it’s a terrible terrible disease. And the pain … my dad would down a 6-pack every night just so he could sleep!
Travel is life-changing. Once you leave the comforts of the known and embark into the unknown, once you make yourself completely vulnerable emotionally and spiritually, you cannot ever go back to the person who lived their life in a bubble. You simply cannot.
Visiting these families, bringing them the Sacrament of Communion, attending rallies for them, fund raising for them … it changes your perspectives on your own “issues”. Heck, we can be in throes of woe is me, and then something greater hits and we miss the earlier trials. These parents, would live in a cardboard box, give up every luxury in the world to just have their child’s health … something most of us take for granted.
Mark Twain said it best, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain. The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It.
We aren’t your typical travelers, we don’t have the money or the desire for cruises and luxury vacation packages or any of that which most of the privileged engage in. Instead, our travels are not for escapes, they are for seeing new things, meeting new people and logging new experiences.
We travel like locals. We walk by the homeless, we worship in churches across the country, we want to return home wiser and more enlightened about the world in which we live and how we can make a difference.
Travel opens your mind. Anyone who says the world is overpopulated has never really been outside of their own big city. They have never traveled through much of Colorado Utah, Wyoming, Montana, North and South Dakota, Texas and Idaho, to name a few. Such general untruths are only spoken by small minded unsophisticated people.
Travel also makes us more educated because of the exposure to history. We spent a day in the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, and the horror that took place is impossible to ignore. Maddy is now reading The Diary of Anne Frank because she was so moved by her actions, she wants nothing more than to serve the underserved, the persecuted, the ignored, and the innocent.
It’s important to give your children real role models who made real differences in the lives of many. Anne Frank, Corey Ten Boom, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. , St Nicholas, Padre Pio, Joan of Arc and so so so so so many others.
Today our children are inundated by electronics, their role models are Miley Cyrus and Kim Kardashian, Bruce or Caitlyn Jenner and the likes of Justin Bieber. Too many kids today experience life through their video game console or on the big screen.
We try to impress on our children that every action they take has a reaction. Life is not experienced in a bubble. Do good and that good ripples beyond your wildest imagination. But frighteningly, do bad and the same can be expected. The best advice is the tried and true … Do Unto Others As You Would Have Done Unto You … travel inspires pure selflessness!