Monday, June 6, 2011

The meaning of Travel

Mandalay at Dawn

I was once asked why do I love to travel. My answer was quite direct: I travel because I have to.

I travel, not so  much to be inspired, but to explore cultures and feel nature's overpowering scale. I feel at home in foreign environments, absorbing what does not exist in my daily life. The landscapes help me to dream and often my travels are driven from the pages I read.

My favorite subject while in school in France was geography, I would stare at my globe and dreamed of foreign lands while my friends would play with their Barbie dolls...and I read, I devoured Jules Verne stories, read the great russian classics, dreaming of white russian landscapes, discovered Italy through Stendhal, my mind travelled through Burma with Georges Orwell and... I discovered Marc Twain.

 From that day on, I knew I would end up in America.

 His  powerful sentence..."travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow mindedness" marked me for ever, and by these standards I brought up my children. Growing up in France, in catholic school, one does not develop very broad horizon and my friends' way of thinking, expectations of life, almost archaic cast system in Bourgeois society were stifling. My parents always encouraged me to be myself and were the support that enabled me to break away from the standard mold. When I wanted to fly, my father brought me to our small local airport, I was only 15 and he said...go for it, and I learned how to fly, alone in my plane I felt an amazing sense of being alive, free to take my life in any direction I wanted. And I did.

Through travel, I feel that I succeeded in at least one thing with my children, they are not afraid of life, of taking risks, they are amazingly generous young men, their friends come from all walks of life and they hold no judgements. As a working mother, I often talk to them and ask if they missed out on their childhood by having both parents away during the day. Their answers are always positive, and in listening to them, our travels have been an amazing part of who they are, a part they hold on to and relish.

Re-reading George Orwell while cruising the mighty Irrawaddy river, Luke and the boys for an early sunrise. We were profoundly touched by this country, land of gentle people caught in a brutal regime

In Borneo, my children learned how to cope with nature, understand the fragility of natural rainforest in the hands of men and greed, and came to love Orangutans. Climbing the ironwood trunk ladder to spend the night with a Dayak family. An impromptu visit after reading Paul Theroux. 

I love being surrounded by younger people, my advise to them...go out in the world, explore, start with your own neighborhood and open your eyes, you will be amazed how much you have missed.


  1. Francine,
    This is such a nice post. I need to explore more myself!
    Thank you for sharing.

  2. What a wonderful post Francine. Travel does indeed, broaden the mind . We never used to take our children out of school for holidays and always went in the school holidays. Once, it was unavoidable, and I went in to apologise to the teacher that we were having to do this and he said... ' they will learn far more on the holiday you are taking them on than I could ever teach them'. I think that said it all !!
    You have a beautiful family, in looks and in their outlook on life, all moulded by you both. They are a credit to you. XXXX

  3. Hi Francine!
    A very inspiring post! Now we just have to all go DO it!!!!!!!!!Maryanne xo

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  5. Francine,
    I am so agree with your thoughts about traveling! And it is so good to know that our children are not afraid from life!! I try to help my son Anthony it it! He is 15 years old now and as you I try to talk a lot with him about life and stimulate him to explore the world and to take as much opportunities he can to become a very independant person.

    I enjoyed your post Francine and thank you so much for your nice comment on my post!
    Greet (Belgian Pearls)
    PS I had to post anonymous because of Blogger problems!)

  6. I think there is no better education you can give your child than exploring different cultures. It opens their eyes to the world and the realm of possibilities that awaits them! xo

  7. Hello Francine,

    Beautifully put! Travel is certainly an ongoing experience that is meant to be treasured... I really enjoyed reading about what drew you to travel and America, and also your advice. Personally, I am always amazed at the very different experiences I may have while traveling, even to the same place!

    Hope that you are having a splendid week.


  8. What a wonderful post Francine.
    You write as well as you design.. and how true - "travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow mindedness"

    I think all australian should travel... being such an isolated country we can get a little insular and travel opens one up to so much more than just new cultures and sights... it's where we find ourselves.. and you are so right about it teaching us to take risks..

    I'm currently debating whether I should take a trip.. and although I've travelled to europe alone twice before.. I always get the nervous stage right about now... Might have to take this as an omen to go for it!!

    PS.. the dog in my post is just a pup I see most days running along the beach path with his master.. don't know him .. just got lucky to capture him 'on the run'

    Have a great day.. and thanks for popping in.. ciao xxx Julie

  9. I love everything about this post. I am happy to have discovered your blog.

  10. I really enjoyed your post Francine. "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow mindedness" - say's it all doesn't it? Your parents gave you the greatest gift of all, the gift of confidence and encouragement. Now, you've done just that for your sons. You are so blessed; your family is beautiful, happy, and most of all, proud of their mom.
    xx Deb

  11. Francine,
    I loved this post and what you said about how travel allows you to absorb what does not exist in your daily life! It really struck a chord with me as often it's hard to articulate what is so wonderful about visiting foreign lands. The men in your life are all so handsome!

  12. Well written post Francine! Travel is one of the biggest gifts to ourselves and I hope to never stop making it happen, it is so worth it! Happy weekend to you.

  13. What a gorgeous family you have! Where I need to go is Europe!

  14. What a lovely post! I love your adventuresome and fearless attitude towards travel. You have given your boys the greatest gift and clearly they are embracing it!!

  15. What an amazing gift you have given your boys. We are about to take our family to Belgium and France. Our Charlie is almost 18 and our time with him under our roof is coming to an end. Our travel experiences always bring us closer together as we all expand our minds and understanding of our world.


  16. Awesome. You sir, are one lucky man. You have a nice family, you travel a lot. I wish you all the luck in the world!!

    International calls

  17. Travel is knowledge, what a gift for your children!

  18. Such a sweet and well written post right from your heart. I do believe it is good for children to explore other nations and happily they do now when they are adults. When smaller we always took them on holiday to Sardenia in the summer where their father is born. Just the other day when my son came back from Ibiza he told me he never realized he learned so muych about nature , plants and the country site in those childhood years. I am so happy I could give that to them, so I understand a bit how you feel ;) Wonderfull family, they all have friendly eyes x desiree


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