It’s Father’s Day in the US. My first major international trip was with my Dad, and I reflect on taking my own daughter on her first major international trip.
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My Dad and I Go To Brazil
It was almost two decades ago that I first left the continent and travelled internationally with my father. My father and I joined a church group serving an orphanage in Sao Paulo, Brazil. During that trip, we encountered a 24-hour mechanical delay on the outbound, I was too young and green to demand a bump to first class for our party (joking.) During that delay, however, I learned an important lesson that would help me as I travelled later in life: sometimes things happen, plans are disturbed, and you’re not always due a refund but it doesn’t have to ruin your trip.
I also gained a super-power from that trip. I realized that the limitations that I put forth in my mind as real barriers were, in fact, entirely imaginary. We didn’t speak Portuguese, had never eaten Brazilian food, and had no savings to support the trip (I worked and saved to pay.)
None of that mattered. And more importantly, none of it does matter.
We returned to the States with four souvenirs:
- My first passport stamp (my previous trip to Mexico didn’t require a passport at the time)
- An unrestricted approach to travel (no place off-limits, no destination unreachable)
- A desire to learn languages (my father has since taught himself Portuguese, loudly repeating phrases back to no one at all, listening while vacuuming the house)
- A nickname for me pronounced: Kee-lay, the phonetic pronunciation of “Kyle” in Portuguese by the kids at the orphanage. My daughter loves using this nickname after hearing it from her “Papa” and my wife.
Travelling With My Dad Has Evolved
We had the pleasure of bringing both of my parents to a favorite spot in Mexico two years ago. After my daughter playfully splashed water from the pool while his mouth was open, he spent a couple of unpleasant days sidelined from the trip. (If you read this Dad and you were wondering if I would mention this, you’re welcome.)
My dad was able to join my brother and me in Chicago for a football weekend. It was a rare trip in which we’ve been able to travel together, just the guys.
Now, when we are together in Florida we still have long walks and talks about business and life but it has changed some. Our travel together centers around Lucy and the rest of the family. We haven’t taken a trip with just the two of us since then Brazil, but perhaps someday it will happen again.
Travelling With My Daughter
That first trip to Brazil was very important to my personal development. It showed me that the world was a big place, full of diverse people, cultures, foods, and beauty. But it also shrunk the world for me. It showed me that there’s really no place more remote than a few hours on a plane. From my humble beginnings in the Midwest, we were just nine hours away from a completely different environment, filled with people who wanted the same things we did in life.
I wanted to show that to Lucy from the first moment we found out my wife and I were pregnant. Eight weeks after she was born we were on a plane with her to a wedding in Curaçao. Six months after that, she’d join us on an epic 16-hour journey to Hong Kong, then spend a couple of weeks in Thailand with us.
It was at the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok where Lucy had her first steps. On that trip, my mother joined us. Just yesterday she mentioned wanting to go back to Thailand, a desire I share with her. She’s absolutely blessed to have been abroad and especially at such a young age. I’m still uncomfortable in high-end hotels feeling I don’t belong while Lucy is so at home she prances around in tutus.
Travel has never been restricted in the eyes of my daughter. For people I knew growing up, Paris was a poster on their wall, a place they would dream about always and maybe go “someday.” But for Lucy, it’s not a matter of whether or not a destination is someplace she’ll ever go, but rather how and when. That’s something my father taught me, that you can do anything you want to do with the will and a plan. And now it’s my pure joy to pass that on to my daughter. Happy Father’s Day. (The card is in the mail, Dad – I promise.)
What do you think? Did you have a memorable trip with your father? What about a trip you’ve taken with your own children?