November in America is when we celebrate Thanksgiving- a holiday where we give thanks for the many blessings in our lives and reflect on all the things we are thankful for.
Part of my reflection this month is how thankful I am for travel. Travel has made a profound impact on my life, even before I started traveling. I grew up listening to my dad talk about the adventures he experienced during his travels around the world. My dad traveled extensively before he got married and had children. He saw most of Europe, Central America, South America, Australia, and parts of Asia and Africa. I loved listening to his stories, and when I was sick or injured, I would ask him to tell me a story about his travels. It was the best way for me to forget about my pain or illness and be carried away to some amazing place. Even though we never traveled much as a family, travel was always a part of my dreams, and I made them a reality when I went to college and began to experience my own travel adventures.
Since then, I have had many adventures in 9 countries, including the US. I experienced many cultures, languages, foods, and music. I have seen ancient ruins where great moments in history occurred. I have seen buildings still standing and in use that predate the United States as a country. I have seen landscapes that have left me breathless, and met people who have made a lasting impact on me as a person.
I am fundamentally different because of my travel. And I am so thankful. Thankful almost doesn’t seem strong enough, I am filled with gratitude. That I have been able to travel. That I have seen sunrises and sunsets in different places around the globe. That I have better appreciation for my life and the things I have access to. That I have experienced struggle and difficulty and overcome them in foreign lands. That I have an expanded view of the world that makes me pause in my thinking, especially when things are hard, or when the world is suffering.
I am thankful that I have had opportunities to share travel with my son. So he can hopefully also benefit from these incredible experiences that will shape his understanding of the world and who he is as a person. Clearly he will not remember these early trips, but I hope there is some sort of lasting impact. And that by making travel a part of our routine now, that it just seems like something we do as he gets older.
So as I reflect on what I am thankful for this month, travel is towards the top of the list.