When we started on our journey in August of 2012, we had a plan. That plan was to be away for 18 months or so, and then return to the USA and return to a traditional life. We moved to Spain, went through a couple of honeymoon months. Then into a period of trying to figure out our rhythm and routine in our simplified lifestyle. We cleansed ourselves from all of the material things we collected in our traditional American lifestyle. We were now in new territory and trying to find the path for our family.
As time went on we all got into a groove, we figured out a way to pave a new path for our lives. It wasn’t picking up our American life and moving it to Spain. It was finding a new way to live in a new place. It was full of change and those awkward moments of “How are we going to do this?” At the time, those moments seemed long and uncomfortable, but then it all started to click.
The kids were understanding their teachers at school and beginning to speak more confidently in Spanish. They were taking part in cultural activities. Alan and I had a routine at home to build the blog, write ebooks, make friends, and explore. We became familiar with the people at the local market and shops. We were getting settled and becoming part of the community. At school pick up or just around town, other parents would wave hello and sometimes stop for a chat. After just a few months Spain was feeling like home. We were showing the kids and each other how to adapt to change through experience.
I remember when our company was about to downsize or reorg, there was a big push to teach people how to adapt to change. We were all provided a book Who Moved My Cheese?, attended big meetings, and were taught how to adapt to change. Of course this worked for some and not others. For me, I already understood change and embraced it. Knowing that change can be difficult at times, but realizing something wonderful can be on the other side of it too.
Travel Changes You
We lived in Spain for nearly 2 years and at the time needed to decide what we would be doing next. Our 18 months had certainly passed and we figured we had about 12 months of funding left to explore. We made a family decision to enjoy those 12 months in Southeast Asia, rather than Spain. We loved Spain, but felt it was a once in a lifetime chance to see a bit more of the world. We traveled around Europe and had a thirst for more change. We know travel changes you and we wanted that. We followed other travelers closely and their made us want to experience a little bit more.
We have been trekking around Southeast Asia for a little more than 10 months now and we are looking forward to returning to Spain in June. I am sit here and reflect on all we have done in the past 10 months and think about how travel has changed us all. How little snippets of life in other cultures, just absorb into your life. How we have had the most amazing conversations with the kids, because we have the gift of time.
Time together to do what we want to do. To function at our own pace. I am amazed at how curious the kids are about the world as well as how adaptable they have become to change. We can just walk down the street and have the simple question of “Why are all of our eyes different colors?”, turn into the most amazing educational experience. Or we can be shopping at the grocery store and see that all of the pork products are located in their own little shop in the corner, separate from everything else.
The kids just naturally notice these things and perhaps question why they are different, but accept the change. That was really the big life lesson for them here, how to adapt to change. Change is inevitable and we can’t always control when or how it happens. What we can do is help to model how to cope and deal with it when it does.
Travel, helps you create change on your terms (Ha! or so we think). For the most part, when we travel when we move from one destination to the next we are creating that “change” element. Of course along with that comes, the unexpected changes. Sometimes we handle those well and other times we don’t. Either way, we are modeling to the kids and teaching them how to adapt to change.
It isn’t all about adapting to change though. It is about how it changes you! Travel really does change you and it is different for every individual. When you get to know the local people and accept and adapt to a different lifestyle, you can’t help but change. Here we are in Southeast Asia and the kids just naturally understand how monks take alms, how to meditate, the sounds of the call to prayer in Malaysia, the impacts of the Vietnam War on people today, eating the local way, and the list goes on. Each one of these experiences has become part of our life, part of who we are.
It is all of the little experiences added together that begin to change you. Not that change is bad, but you are now just a little bit different from what you were before. It is difficult for others to understand, as they may not have experienced this change. None the less, it has changed you. We are excited to return to Spain, but at the same time a little nervous. We know that exploring Southeast Asia for 11 months will have changed us, but will we still fit in when we return to Spain? We are more excited to return to Spain than we would be if we were moving to the USA. In fact, we will be visiting the USA for a few weeks on our way to Spain and I am curious how we all do.
The kids haven’t been to the USA in nearly 3 years. They don’t remember much, but I think it will become very apparent to them how much travel has changed them. Let’s hope it all goes well and we can embrace our changes. I hope they don’t feel more privileged or superior because they have a bit more knowledge of the world. I hope they don’t feel as if they don’t fit in. Oh my mind is spinning. I wouldn’t change any of our decisions, but these next few months will be interesting to see how we find our new groove as changed people once again. We love this life and want to make it last as long as possible. Change is a good thing and we love how travel has changed us.
A photo of us just prior to leaving the USA in August 2012.
We have something big to announce soon, and it is just one more way to show travel changes you! Any guesses?