After writing yesterday’s article about the Lewis family, I’ve been thinking a lot about the impact volunteering can have on families with children. The typical family vacation, especially if said family happens to include a teenager, is often rife with stress. Maybe the kids don’t want to go, or they’re moody and difficult. Every car ride is punctuated by a hundred are-we-there-yets. The Chevy Chase-style Big Ben/Parliament rotary tour comes to mind. Family vacations are supposed to be quality-time adventures. They’re supposed to end with everyone feeling closer, happier, more unified and refreshed. The trouble is, most typical family vacations don’t end that way at all.
Travel is irreplaceable. No matter how much you read or learn in school, you can’t capture the real flavor of a place and the people who call it home until you’ve been there. It can feel scary—there are so many unknowns—but taking that risk is part of what makes it so unforgettable. For children, travel is perhaps even more important. Seeing the world’s inequalities first-hand, realizing that any of us could have been born in the slums of Kibera, we learn that there is nothing special about those who are born into privilege. It’s just dumb luck. For those of us who are so lucky, shouldn’t we be doing more to make a difference?