While the opportunity to travel internationally is not, and will unfortunately never be, equally distributed, travel itself, the sheer notion of leaving the creature comforts of home to discover, explore, taste, smell, try, learn and seek…something, something else, something new or foreign or just plain different from what we know, is without a doubt the great equalizer, the singular best opportunity to destroy the roots of exceptionalism before they start to spread into the heads and hearts of decent people and to stop isolationism dead in its evil tracks.
Domestic travel plays a huge role in accomplishing this goal too but it is really international travel that grants children early access to a worldview, and provides for experiences that may help develop in them, and in us more-hardened adults, a much needed empathy — and my god we need so much more empathy in people right now — and a deep, genuine and sincere respect for the various cultures, societal norms, traditions, foods, ideas, clothes and ways of life across the globe.
As we enter what is shaping up to be a dangerous, isolationist period of time in America and for American society, we must reject at every turn the shackles of extreme exceptionalism by spending quality time in other countries and immersed in foreign cultures. We cannot allow the world to shrink around us, to wall ourselves off from the global community. If we do, if we let fear and ego and exceptionalism reign supreme in this nation, it won’t really matter how much you’ve saved for retirement or how fancy a school your children attend, because the world that we’ll hand over to them won’t be welcoming, if it is even still there at all.
Whether you hop on board a cruise ship (I highly recommend you take your kids on a cruise), head to Montreal and fumble through a little français to order a croissant (pro tip: don’t pronounce the ‘r’) or a pain au chocolat in a real life patisserie, make a short drive through the sameness that exists in Turkey, figure out the metro system in Barcelona, walk all over a tiny Italian island devoid of tourists, or visit the deep south if you’re a northerner / spend time in the friendly Midwest if you’re a laid back SoCal native / thicken up your skin in Boston or New York City if you’re from anywhere that isn’t Boston or New York City, please please please make travel a family priority right now and for the foreseeable future.