At the end of 2015, we were two years away from leaving on the ‘big trip’ when we started to consider how we could begin planning the actual itinerary. Dave and I had talked about where we wanted to go, but how could we involve the girls in the conversation, AND in a way that would be meaningful to them at ages 9 and 6?
Dave had the fantastic idea of buying a world map. Using coloured stickers, each of us with our own colour, would place stickers on the places we would like to visit. The sky was the limit – wherever we dreamed of going, we put a sticker! In a chart, we would list the reasons for our choices.
So there we were on New Year’s Day 2016, sitting in our pajamas, surrounded by piles (and I mean piles!!!) of the many travel books and magazines Dave had collected over the years. Meghan and Avery also had subscriptions to Kids National Geographic and Owl magazines, which featured places around the world. These were added to our piles too. What took place over the next few hours was very enlightening and shaped the trip we are about to take.
During this time we thought hard. Dave and I considered not only our dreams, but also our dreams for the girls. Where had we always wanted to go? What did we want the girls to learn, experience and see? What experiences would help them discover and learn about themselves and their place in the world?
The girls researched new places in the world by reading and looking at pictures. Unique attractions and place names soon became some of the reasons to travel to places in their eyes. Seeing animals that we had only seen in zoos were now being imagined in their natural habitats. We helped the girls locate places on the map and quickly they could identify continents and oceans. The ‘dream plan’ was coming together.
Perhaps just as important as the original intent of the map, is what it means to us now when we look back on it today. It is a reminder of many things that we both anticipated and some that we couldn’t have foreseen being captured in time. Firstly, it is a reminder of our collective dream together for this trip. It represents our wishes for ourselves, and our family coming together in one place.
None of us had really talked about where we wanted to visit so it was interesting to learn where each of us wanted to go and why. I remember being shocked to learn we all had a desire to visit Brazil. The girls had just watched the Olympics and of course, watched the movie, Rio. They were keen to find wildlife and I wanted to experience standing on top of the hill dwarfed by the Christ the Redeemer statue and Dave wanted to see the Amazon. It was just one of many lessons we learned about each other that afternoon.
Secondly, this map will forever be a reminder of who we were at that moment in time. Avery was 6 and had just started grade 1. Her choices keenly reflected her life experiences so far ( i.e. Disneyland, Maui), her friends’ experiences (eg. Newfoundland because Lauren says its fun) and movies she had seen. Meghan had just spent her grade 3 year studying Peru, India, Ukraine and Tunisia. She had a wider understanding of places in the world and these were reflected in her desires as were her interests in sports and wildlife. Already they have grown so much. We can’t help wonder, who will they be after the next 7 months?
Finally, the map reminds us of just how quickly the world can change. Unfortunately, not always for the better. Egypt and Turkey were places on many of our lists. However, due to political and security situations they no longer are places we feel we should travel to just right now. A future adventure we hope.
This map, and the time we spent creating it, was a gift to ourselves. I can’t help wonder what we might think of it upon our return.
We're the Danchuks - follow our explorations and family adventures in a wide world (2018).