I’m one happy dad right now — because both my kids called me today from Europe. Andy FaceTimed me from the Cinque Terre, and I got to wave to 25 happy travelers on the Rick Steves Best of Europe in 21 Days Tour he is leading. The group was all smiles, tanned, rested, and ready for their Italian seafood feast. Andy’s little sister Jackie is leading a tour of her own — a couple of girlfriends — in Greece and Croatia. Jackie texted me photos that captured one of my favorite moments in Europe: sunset on Hydra at the funky little harborside bar in Kamini. And there savoring it, ouzo in hand, was my daughter and her friends.
Of course, it takes money and a shift in priorities, but we made a point to take our kids to Europe lots — even taking them out of school for a couple of weeks each April. Today, they are young adults and — with the help of parents who have been intent on giving them a global perspective — our children are comfortable with the world. Unburdened by fear and ethnocentrism, they are enjoying our planet as their playground.
When blessed with a traveler’s upbringing, young people are more likely to understand that the world is safe and accessible, a festival of diversity, and filled with good people and love. A few years ago, we celebrated New Year’s Eve together — not at some fancy ski resort, but in Cuba. Andy has chosen to live in Medellin, Colombia (and loves it). And Jackie has found her calling as a schoolteacher, working with kids in tough neighborhoods in Washington DC and Chicago, and now bringing her global perspective into a Los Angeles classroom.
Every time I see a family traveling together, I get almost teary-eyed as I recognize the importance of the parenting going on. The hard work and love of parents on the road is key to raising caring, bold, and confident Americans with a global perspective.
This is just a stream-of-consciousness post to say, “Yes! Our kids are global citizens. The world is their playground. And that makes me a happy dad.” I love you, Andy and Jackie.