With my little sister and my grandma’s maid, Gertrude, in front of her house in Marondera, Zimbabwe. Image by Megan Johnson (author’s mum).
As a global girl, you probably have memories of travelling from a very young age; I know I do! Now that you’re all grown up, it’s amazing to rediscover those feelings of wonder and curiosity as you travel, whether you’re single or a mom yourself.
If only it were that easy!
Ever since I found out I’m pregnant, my attitude towards travel has changed. I’ve suddenly become more fearful and cautious, more aware of my surroundings. I’ve started calculating the risks of every trip, worrying about delays, my phone dying, bad food, and accidents of every description. The world has become a big, scary place; something I have to protect myself and my baby from.
Every good traveller knows that safety is key, and as a mother, or a mother-to-be, caution while travelling is necessary. But sometimes we can let worry take our fears too far and forget to enjoy what’s around us!
Let’s take baby steps. Let’s remember what it was like to travel as kids.
I can still recall some of my earliest trips to Britain and Africa. My sisters and I were always full of energy, racing down the aisles on long flights and crawling under the seats when we were still small enough to fit. We’d watch I Love Lucy reruns and throw our snacks at each other, giggling madly until my dad made us hush.
Once we had landed in a new country, there was no sitting down for anything! We’d jump from window to train window to watch scenery go by; laugh in delight as we bounced up rocky roads; and explore everything we could, from grocery stores to hidden coves and rock pools.
I still remember several harrowing trips when we lost first one thing and then another, even leaving my baby sister behind!
But no matter how lost, dirty, wet, or impatient we were, there was always something new just around the corner.
Aside from the occasional screaming baby, many kids love the novelty of travel.
Everything is different and exciting, and for little people with the attention span of goldfish, travel can be its own entertainment.
I was on my way home from visiting family in Texas last month, and there was an unusually large number of children on the plane. A group of them sat in front of me, and I enjoyed listening to their chatter and waving at the inquisitive faces that peeked at me from behind the seats. As we raced down the runway for takeoff, they all put both hands in the air and shouted in delight, like they were riding a roller coaster!
I still think of that as I travel now, while I make to-do and to-bring lists, double-check everything, and send updates to my family about where I am and what I’m doing.
As adults, we often feel the need to be organized and put-together.
That’s not a bad thing! But let’s never lose that wonder we felt as kids, as we saw new countries for the first time and experienced new smells, sounds, and people.
Whether it’s a short road trip or a flight around the world, I hope you take the time to have fun as you travel, explore each new bend in the road, and, yes, learn to enjoy the world through the eyes of the kids around you!
That wonder and curiosity is part of our heritage as global girls.