I know people who have traveled the world. They’ve enjoyed their travel and look forward to their next destination. Every once in awhile I come across someone who will say their life was changed because they traveled somewhere. I can’t say one place changed my life.
When I was 14 I went to Israel. I was supposed to live there a year on a Kibbutz. My first three days were spent in a bomb shelter. Not so usual for a girl who had just moved from California. But, in the early 1980s in Israel time in bomb shelters was pretty much normal.
I never look at that as a life changer though. As a Jewish kid, stories about bombings in Israel were dinner conversation in my house. Not just because I was Jewish but because I had family living in Israel and there was always concern.
I lived in Israel for a few months and then came home early. I obviously wasn’t cut out for bomb shelter living or worrying about being blasted into seventy-three thousand pieces. To be fair, the kibbutz I lived on was never directly hit. It was a few kilometers from Lebanon and near the Golan Heights. All was quiet in the Golan Heights, but the early 80s saw periodic hostility between Lebanon and Israel. No matter how hard I tried, I worried that I’d be killed. It affected me. It affected my family.
Fast forward almost 30 years and I’m perched on the horizon of BabyGirl’s first international trip — Italy. Unlike mine, she’s not going by herself. Nor is she going to an area of hostility. And the trip is only 10 days, not a year.
My trip to Israel helped shape who I am today. There were some negative parts, but the biggest impact was being able to see a world bigger than me. It made me want to travel. I gave me a sense a freedom and wonder. And that’s what I hope for BabyGirl.
With a 5-city itinerary I know it’s going to be exciting and every day will be full of history, beauty and amazing experiences. We’ve taken time to learn about Ancient Rome and the history of Italy’s great cities she’ll be more of a participant than an observer. And we’ve both decided to learn Italian to feel a little more comfortable to explore.
Right now I don’t know if this trip will change her life. I may not know for many years. What I do know is giving BabyGirl the experience of international travel will mean something to her. Seeing history first hand will bring to life things she’s shown interesting in learning about. Seeing a new culture. New foods to try.
International travel offers rich experiences if you’re willing to allow yourself to go beyond your comfort zone. It’s not an easy task for a child that crave order and predictability. As the departure date gets closer I’m sure the excitement level will go up. And while we’re going with a group that will include kids her age, BabyGirl won’t know any of them. Luckily, we’ve got 7 hours at JFK airport to remedy that!
Can a trip really change her life? I think so. And I hope she’ll look back on this trip with great fondness for how it changed her.