As a child, I used to look at photos and read books about places near and far, places in history and places in the news. I used to dream of visiting these places and seeing history in living colour, right in front of me. But they were only dreams. I never thought I would ever get to travel around the world and live in many of these places I’d only imagined in my mind.
But I have. And so have my children.
It’s unlikely that they would remember anything they have seen or done in years to come, not without the thousands of photos I have taken to document it all. Everywhere they look, there’s photos of them in front of castles and ruins and cities and rivers and countryside, in places I had only ever read about. I still have to remind myself how much they have seen and done, and how much I have seen and done as well. I’m a big believer in travelling with kids when they are young, exposing them to new places and scenes and cultures and people, and showing them history in real life.
They have been to England, Scotland, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Indonesia, Japan, Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore, New Zealand, and of course Australia. They have seen the Roman baths in Bath, the cathedral in Canterbury, the highlands in Scotland, the white cliffs (and castle) of Dover, Edinburgh Castle, St Andrews golf courses, the Loch Ness Monster in Loch Lomond (okay, we told them in was Loch Ness – what they don’t know won’t hurt them), London Bridge, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and Brighton Pier. They’ve explored Windsor Castle, Cambridge University, the beautiful French countryside, Paris, Euro Disney, and the Sound of Music tour in Salzburg. They’ve skied the Austrian Alps, had lunch in Italy, crossed the border into Germany, driven through Alps and the Dolomites, and now they are beginning to explore our own beautiful country. They have seen Stonehenge, castles and cathedrals galore, knights jousting, ridden on a rickshaw in Siem Reap, had lunch at Raffles, ridden upon an elephant, flown in a helicopter to the top of a glacier, ridden on a gondola to the top of a snowy mountain, made snowmen, seen Mount Fuji, and travelled under the sea from England to France. And yet there is still so much more that they are yet to do!
Helping them to remember all that they have done and seen is easy in this day and age. With digital photography, we are able to document more of our lives than ever. And now, with the advent of smartphones, no one has an excuse for missing out on a photo opportunity – most people have a camera in their pockets. I usually go one step further and carry my DSLR almost everywhere with me. I’m one of a growing breed of Mamarazzis, mums who take photos of everything their children see and do. We snap and we write, and we also display. I’ve made sure that we have our photos displayed as much as we can, whether it’s on a computer screensaver or a canvas, framed or in photo books.
And, in the case of Charlyse and Saraya’s room, on their wall. They have a large pinboard on their wall, and it has years of photos pinned to it. Photos of them in all different locations, reminding them of where they have been. I’m hoping it nurtures a desire in them to see more and do more, to explore this beautiful world we live in, to learn from their travels, and to use all that they learn in their lives. They have seen too much and done too much for it all just to be put in albums on a shelf and forgotten about. This way, they will remember and they will, hopefully, yearn for more.
In my mind, travel is the best education anyone can get. And what you learn on your travels can never be taught, it can only be experienced. And that is my wish for them, that they will always want to learn more.