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Melancholy of travel

by Emiel Van Den Boomen

I know you think a lot about the good old days, when you could just jump on a plane and go. No itinerary, no worries. Now you have children and you think everything has changed. You are not allowed to travel like you used to: you are restricted by huge obstacles and other people’s opinions. Well, I have good news for you. These obstacles are a fake and other people’s opinions don’t matter.

“The wrong way to travel is to dismiss the opportunities in front of you”

quote by Geraldine of @everywhereist

Do you also remember that travel was just a means of having one, big and exciting party? No itinerary, no worries. Suddenly, however, you decided to play around with the local culture. You started taking pictures of historic buildings, or even worse, you visited a museum! Did you notice you got cut-off from the youthfulness, the looseness of travel? Was there one particular day that everything changed, that suddenly you noticed you were on the other side of the border?

You have crossed a couple of borders for sure and your way of traveling has evolved. The question is: when did travel change? When was it that your lazy look at the world moved to one with serious interests? Was it like suddenly crossing a border or more like a gradual shift to maturity?

Now that you look at life from the other side of the border, how do you look back at your early days of traveling?

Crossing borders

I crossed a border for the first time when I decided to study Japanese. No more travel sluggishness but a strong sense of eagerness to learn about a different culture. Across that metaphorical border I entered a world without lazy beaches and camping grounds, but with a wonderful pallet of cultures, religions, habits and, of course, people.

The name of that place on the other side of the border? Let’s call it Wanderlust Country.

When we got our first child I crossed another border. In the early baby stages we didn’t travel, but I already booked us a red-eye flight in advance. After our youngest turned four, we started to travel again. Departing at night, we arrived in clear daylight: the other side of the border. Travel had again changed, although less drastically compared to our first border crossing. We decided to quickly take up traveling again and introduce our children (without hesitation) to Wanderlust Country. Why not embrace travel as part of your children’s education?

When you look across the border, what do you see? Are you on the verge of changing the way you travel? Do you look back with melancholy?

There is one more option. Maybe you are back at the border, ready to return again? Planning to take your children on a no-itinerary and no-worries travel? Good for you. Go travel without plans, simply enjoying the act of traveling. We can shake hands.


1. Value of travel

2. Texture of travel (or why we take our kids along)

3. Why we travel

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The mythic power of migration « August 3, 2011 - 17:01

[…] – Inspired by E Vandenboomen’s exceptional article on the melancholy and power of border crossing […]

Michi August 2, 2011 - 20:16

What a great way of looking at travel with kids! My parents have been avid travelers themselves, and began traveling with me when I was four (just before my sister was born) and then again when my younger sister turned two – it’s funny you mentioned it, because I remember taking a lot of red-eye flights! (Must be a parent-traveling-with-small-children thing?)

I don’t usually travel with an itinerary, even though I don’t have kids, but rather mark all of the important things I’d like to see and do with flexibility. The rest of the time is left to wander about and soak up my surroundings. 🙂

Anonymous August 2, 2011 - 20:30

Thanks Michelle. Maybe it is also a kind of transition. After a couple of travels to various destinations, you change how you want to embrace the place. Wandering around might sound like a waste of time (do you spend all that money to travel to a place and then just wander around?), but it leads to great discoveries. You can try it in your hometown for that matter! Great to see you here again and hope all is well in Spain.

Emily August 2, 2011 - 02:53

Hard for me to travel without an itinerary…and now that my kids can stand a flight longer than 3 hours, the world has opened back up. What has changed is the need to accommodate multiple interests, not just mine. Just another stage.

Anonymous August 2, 2011 - 20:23

I understand about multiple interests. Our kids are 7 and 10, they still tend to follow our dreams. But there comes a time when they will request us to follow theirs.
Thanks for your comment Emily.

Moniquegarciausa August 2, 2011 - 00:33

yes and I will shake your hand! I crossed many borders, and evolved from backpacker post college, to language immersion longer-stay programs – to finally moving and working abroad. When traveling, I used to be an obsessive planner and needed and wanted to see/do everything with my books and books of research. With kids now I found myself traveling in a difft way, I find I can’t do as much as I’d like and try to set realistic expectations. Our trip to europe next year will be in one place for 2 weeks, as much as it will challenge me, I think settling into a place and less scheduling will be the way we need to go this time around.
Coincidentally, my next blog post will also be about exploring transitions….:)

Anonymous August 2, 2011 - 20:19

Thanks Monique! I have the same, I tend to plan everything in detail but that’s changing. Now I believe we can leave it up to the place we visit or the people we meet. I’m looking forward to reading your next blogpost! You should also read the following post: http://bit.ly/psfvcS (In Space We Trust) . Thanks for a great comment!

Monique August 5, 2011 - 03:11 Reply

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