Insightful guest submission from Kristin L. about her recent trip to Norway with her husband and 8 year old daughter. When given the opportunity to travel, children can really come into their own. Thanks for sharing!
It isn’t that we intended to take our eight year old daughter, Molly, on our spectacular anniversary trip to the arctic north. It’s that once we had it planned, we realized we couldn’t not take her. At some point in the planning process, as the trip took shape and activities were nailed down, we began to see that a.) this was going to be the trip of a lifetime and b.) it would be way more fun to experience it with our daughter—to see it through her eyes, to catch the contagious magic of her first trip abroad. Slowly, the idea percolated and we tested her out: “So…if we were to take you, do you think (dogsledding, snowmobiling, cruising through the polar nights) are things you would enjoy doing?” She bit. Yes. Yes, she would love it. “It will be cold,” we warned. She didn’t mind. “You will get really, really tired.” No problem. Soon she was pouring over maps and schedules and videos of the Northern Lights along with us. Not long after that, her passport arrived. Finally, Christmas came and went, and we were off. Travel does something to us: opens us up; brings us into ourselves, somehow. For Molly, an unusually quiet, creative and internal child, our little artist, a transformation happened before our eyes. With each stop along the way, she became more excited. Her eyes opened wider. Her confidence grew and she began leading us around Norwegian cities, reading maps and deciphering street signs. I began posting pictures of our journey on facebook, and person after person would comment with, “Wow, I’ve never seen Molly smile so big!” And why not? She was, after all, experiencing the most beautiful landscape we’d ever seen. She was, after all, sleeping in hotels made of snow and riding dogsleds deep into the dark Finnish forests. She was eating things we’d never heard of, attempting sports we’d never seen, and watching us, her parents, experience things for the first time as well. We were learning and growing and taking it all in together. This is what travel does. This is how it works its magic. The trip itself was amazing. But experiencing it alongside Molly and watching this confident, bubbly girl emerge because of it—that was the best part.