Lessons from the Road of Life
Since we’ve been a family Lee, Reuben and I have visited six countries together. From each of them we learnt a little about ourselves, our family and how we want to live. Picking up a way of being from the culture, being inspired by a community we were visiting or learning the limit to which we could push ourselves as individuals or a family. We’ve tried out different styles of travel to see what works for us. We’ve laughed & cried, been exhausted & jubilant, sipped cocktails & ridden elephants – always together, always as a family.
Here’s a little lesson from the road from each country we visited:
It’s refreshing to visit a society that knows what it is and stays true to itself. All the special aspects of Japanese life are well-preserved and respected even by young people. There is a real sense of identity about Japan. It’s not trying to be anything else except Japanese. It’s OK to be yourself in Japan too – grown women dressed like babydolls, grown men playing video games, whatever weird and wacky thing you’re into is fine so long as you throw yourself into it wholeheartedly. There’s reverence in the little things in life. Great care is taken to perfectly arrange strawberries in a punnet or to walk on the correct side of the subway stairs. Society is ordered. You can leave your umbrella outside a restaurant and no one would think about borrowing it. Fall asleep on a late night train and no one would think of pinching your bag. The overwhelming lesson from Japan would have to be respect. Respect for traditions, respect for your identity, respect for each other, respect your surroundings.
OK, technically Reuben wasn’t born when we visited Japan but I was six months pregnant. This was the first international trip that Lee and I took together. It was our honeymoon so Japan will always be special to us.
We’ve spent six of the last 18 months on the coast of sunny Queensland where wonderful weather means lots of time spent outdoors. When day breaks before 6am and there’s never a chill in the air, it’s easy to get out and about early. Enjoying fresh air and exercise first thing in the morning really starts your day off on the right foot. There’s lots of activity along the waterfront – walking, running, exercising in public space and plenty of kids at the playgrounds, all before 8am. In this part of Oz, where physical activity really is a way of life, it’s rare to see anyone who is grossly overweight.
We love America. Sure, it has it’s faults but every country does. If you can look past the crappy food choices and the obsession with consumerism you’ll find a country full of positive, outgoing people. Everywhere we went the American people were friendly and engaging. In everyday situations, people were interested in who we were and what we were doing. People aren’t shy or reserved. It’s easy to strike up conversations on the bus, waiting in line or in a restaurant. We took a lot from the American outlook at life and now try to approach life positively and speak to strangers.
I’ve been to Thailand over a dozen times. It’s my go-to country when I want to relax, eat well, get some sun and just enjoy life. I wanted to share all this with Lee but what I wanted more was for him to live outside his comfort zone. His travels have always been spent in four hotels, luxury beach resort and ski towns. Apart from our honeymoon in Japan, he hadn’t been to a non-English speaking country for 10 years. I wanted him to see how the other half lived and to realize you can enjoy travel without splashing tonnes of cash. We stayed in $17 a night guesthouses, ate street food and rode in crammed minibuses. Although Lee found it difficult at the time, he grew from it immensley. He learnt he didn’t need to be comfortable 100% of the time and that he could enjoy himself on a limited budget. We also learnt that Reuben had his own limits when it came to travel and that culture shock in children exists!
Malaysia is a unique blend of cultures – Chinese, Malay and Indian all living together seamlessly. We were impressed with the amount of tolerance and diversity we witnessed in Malaysia. Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims all co-exist in what seems to be a society that respects and celebrates it’s differences. Where else in the world can you munch a chicken satay stick, outside a Bollywood theatre while listening to the call to prayer? The world could learn a thing or two about how Malaysians live.
After two months on the road moving quickly, we found ourselves in Singapore worn out and exhausted. We were done with travelling quickly, living out of a suitcase and on top of each other in a cramped hotel room. We looked forward to going home and having a kitchen, a comfy bed and a bit of space. Our learning wasn’t so much from the place we were in but about how far we could push ourselves. I wanted to give Lee a good introduction to South East Asia but I planned way too much. We know now that slow travel is the way to go. One or two weeks on the go is about all we can handle before we need to unpack, spread out and settle into a little routine, if only for a few weeks.
Other families on the move share what they have learnt on the road:
Bohemian Travelers – Travel Lessons: Can You Embrace the Unknown
The Nomadic Family – I Know Nothing (and 99 Other Things The Road Has Taught Me)
Pearce On Earth – 5 Life Lessons Learned from Traveling
Travel with Bender – So it’s been 6 Months – You won’t believe what we have learnt!
Life Changing Year – Life Lessons From The Road – A Little Bit Of Planning Goes A Loooong Way!
Living Outside of the Box – 6 Life Lessons From the Road
A King’s Life – Two things I know for sure
Family on Bikes – Complaining won’t change a gosh-darn thing
Family Travel Bucket List – 3 Things We’ve Learned While Living Outside of the USA
Ramble Crunch – 15 lessons I’ve learned traveling the world
Grow in Grace Life – By Any Road – Lessons from the Journey
Our Travel Lifestyle – Travel: Teaching us about ourselves
The Lovely Travel of a Nomadic Dad – The 10 Things I Learned on the Road that I did not Want To
Practical Adventure-ology – 25 Lessons Learned Traveling & Living Abroad with My Family