Having a mom who’s a travel writer has meant great adventures for Wilf and Reg, sons of British journalist and author Sara Wheeler. Wilf, now 12, has already seen a polar bear and met the tribesmen of the Masai Mara, although his mom was warned that his infant noises might attract lions thinking he was a dying impala.
I was driven from Vancouver, my birthplace, to Mexico, when I was two, my parents taking the back seat out of the car for the journey. Ever since, I’ve reveled in travel, counting the weeks or months until my next trip. This week — Atlanta! I’m psyched, having found a female freelance photographer there who’ll spend the day with me exploring. I’m only going there for a board meeting, my first time in that city, but tacked on two extra days for fun.
I first flew alone, to Antigua, when I was six, to meet my mom. As she traveled with world alone for many years, years later, I’d fly in to meet her in Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru and Fiji, places I’m not sure I’d ever have gotten to on my own time and dime for years, if at all. We slurped room service tomato soup while suffering altitude sickness in Cuzco, froze our asses off on a train through the Andes at midnight, got frisked by the police coming home from midnight mass in Cartagena, and snorkeled amid blue starfish in Fiji. She created an addict! Now I spend every spare penny planning the next trip, our apartment filled with our photos from places visited and memories treasured, from Malta to Paris to Juno Beach to the Eastern Townships of Quebec.
I think the greatest gift you can give your kids is the insatiable hunger to keep a current passport, get out into the world, and the confidence to make themselves, and others, at home once they’re out there. Here’s a fun blog by American ex-pat and mom Karen Van Drie, living and working in Prague. And one of my favorite experts on life overseas is fellow Canadian Robin Pascoe, who runs expatexpert.com, which she began after leaving life as a journo to follow her diplomat husband around Asia.
If you’re suffering a little cabin fever — it’s a cold, gray day here in New York — these offer a quick, cheap escape.