Since the day we decided we wanted to forgo the American dream and pursue a life of slow travel with our three children, my husband and I have been two ships passing in the night. We tell each other each morning all the things that we need to do any given day, in order to pass the finish line and finally slow down. We must sell everything and make all the right gear purchase while raising three kids and working full-time.
And then it happened. As we were scarfing down our dinner, asking all the compulsory questions that lead us to define it as a family dinner, my 8-year-old said, “So, does slow travel start when we get everything on the list done or when we get to the airport or not until we actually land in Europe?”
He was so genuine, so determined to understand when this madness would stop. We could not answer him so we did what any responsible parents would do, and we rushed them to hurry up and eat because we had to get to Little League practice.
After the kids were tucked in, and we finally sat down to talk, we laughed until we cried. Here we are thinking we are going to “teach” our children all they need to know while we travel the world, and we can’t even slow down long enough to see the humor in it all.
I love that my son’s question was full of genuine inquiry and completely free of judgement. His quest for understanding was the beginning of our slow travel journey. It was just a decision. All we needed to do was realize that the reasons we are doing this are all here, in this moment.
We want to be more intentional. We want to be more present. We want to be together. We want to be full of gratitude for all that we have. We want to feel more joyful. Our children had all the answers:
- At the luggage store, they arranged pieces in order of the colors of a rainbow, until we told them to stop.
- In the grocery store, they wanted to spend time in the ethnic foods aisle talking about all the new things we will be eating, and we rushed them through because we were going to “stick to the list.”
- When we were on the phone with the airlines booking tickets, and they were flying paper airplanes from the balcony yelling to each other where each aircraft was headed, we hushed them.
- Whenever my five-year old talks to people about our upcoming big trip, she does this little happy jig while she is talking, until we remind her to make eye contact.
They knew all along how this slow travel thing works. They are intentional, present, connected and full of gratitude. They emanate joy! My husband and I just needed a few more lessons in happy dance footwork.
Today was different. Today we were in on secret we once knew, but lost track of since childhood. Today we skipped stones. Today we had breakfast for dinner and spent time reading a book by the fire. Today we went to bed when we were tired instead of at the official bedtime. Today was just like yesterday, only I was different.
We now know all the reasons we gave ourselves for rushing, “It is just this culture. We will be more intentional and peaceful once we get to Europe,” were excuses we were making to keep running. We realize now, peace is sometimes unsettling at first. When peace is the overwhelming alignment, there is jolt and a shift and nervous energy that stems from an addiction to running from one place to the next.
If we stay quiet long enough, the peace washes over us, the slower pace becomes rhythmic and the rewards are infinite.