Credit: Jonah Batambuze
What would you say if I told you traveling changed my life? Or, that my traveling experiences have helped shape me into the person I am today. There are many benefits associated with traveling, which is why I’m doing everything possible to help my kids catch the travel bug.
As a young kid, you could often find me glued to my Apple IIc computer, chasing Carmen San Diego and her V.I.L.E. henchmen around the globe. I still remember spending countless hours collecting clues before virtually jetting off to Budapest, San Francisco, Kigali, and other destinations. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this computer game was actually teaching me geography, and introducing me to other cultures.
Fast-forward to the ripe age of seven when my parents presented my siblings and me with our first trip abroad. When I asked my mother where we were going, she simply said, “We’re going home–to Uganda.” It didn’t register with me at the time, but these trips back “home” would have an immense impact on my perceptions of the world.
As a first-generation Ugandan (see Last King of Scotland) born in Chicago, I grew up listening to stories of my father walking several miles to school, and other hardships of life I was fortunate enough to avoid. I’m sure other families are familiar with these stories, but they oftentimes don’t resonate until we experience them firsthand. These repeat trips back home to Uganda were transformational regardless of my age. Each trip held valuable life lessons, which were waiting to be discovered.
I remember seeing young boys and girls walking miles alongside dusty roads to school, and countless other images that taught me to be grateful for what I have. Imagine how silly I felt complaining about not having new Jordan’s when there were kids walking without any shoes. And, connecting with other children and family members made me appreciate how special relationships are.
The learning from these trips hasn’t stopped. Even today, I find myself becoming more aware of life and its blessings after each trip.
I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher”
We all look forward to that moment when we prove to our parents, and even to ourselves, that we’re capable of venturing out into the world as responsible adults. This time came for me in 2014, when after graduating from college and a few years in the workforce, I embarked on a solo, backpacking adventure through Europe.
I look back on the experience of traveling through nine countries in three months as one of the most empowering things I’ve done.
The thing about traveling alone is that you’re 100% responsible for the experiences you have:
- You do the research
- You decide your destination
- You decide who you’re going to speak to and befriend
- You decide when to jump on the train, and what city to visit next
And, most importantly you get to spend a lot of time learning about yourself. Through traveling alone, I learned to love my own company.
Traveling has the magical quality of providing you with fascinating experiences, however you have to be open to receiving them. The power of travel made me the person I am today, and I hope one day it can also enlighten my children.
If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” – James Michener
Jonah Batambuze is an artist, connector, and globetrotter. A first-generation Ugandan, born in the U.S., Batambuze currently resides outside London, England with his wife and two young children. You can find Batambuze creating content, developing partnerships and managing social media for lifestyle brand KampInd and Color Wheel Media.
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