Travel Voices

What I Learnt after Travelling to 22 Countries in a Year as a Family

Change isn’t easy. It leaves you feeling strangely excited but also a little bit confused, says Liz Deacle, whose family of four gave up their 'settled' lives and have been travelling around the world in the past year.

By Liz Deacle

After leaving behind my home in New Zealand, and visiting 22 countries in the past year with my husband Brian, 17-year-old son Sonny and 14-year-old daughter Tessa, I’d say I have learnt quite a bit about parenting and life.

LEARN TO LET GO: I was somewhat of a control freak before the trip. It was my way of getting through the day as smoothly as possible. I thought that if I controlled everything and everyone then my family would be protected and we would all be happy and safe. In reality, it was utterly exhausting and caused me a great deal of upset and unnecessary stress. The slightest tip of my plans for the day would send me into a panic and I would cry a lot.

But the past one year has taught me to let go. I still cry, not because we have run out of milk and I’d already been to the supermarket, but because I miss Asia!

liz deacle 3YOUR KIDS ARE NOT YOU: Travelling with my kids has taught me that everything will be fine. Your kids will be alright. They are not you. They are on their own beautiful journey in life and we as parents are simply there to guide and support them. Not control them. Try to back off.

I haven’t quite perfected this yet but I’m trying. Statements like this are very easy to make, but I know all too well that implementing them is much, much harder. Putting this lesson into practice takes courage but do it a little at a time and you will see great benefits. They will be okay. Let it go.

liz deacle 5DON’T RESIST CHANGE: For me, personally, the past year has taught me that I needed to find my new path. This was a confusing lesson because I had forgotten that paths in life don’t stay the same. As far as I was concerned, I was on the same path that I’d been on for the past decade and that was me for life. I’d forgotten that paths change and in order to be happy you need to change with them.

When your path in life takes a different turn, invites you to try something new and to leave an old habit behind, it’s because things need to change. So that you can remain happy. But it’s not easy. Change isn’t easy. It leaves you feeling strangely excited but also a little bit confused. You desperately hold onto the old path because that is the one you know well and are comfortable with.

liz deacle 2GO WITH THE FLOW: Once you realise that paths change and you find the one you are destined to be on in life right now, then happiness falls into place naturally and life becomes a whole lot easier. You no longer care if the house is a mess or you can’t have milk in your tea. Look for the signs that tell you it may be time to change paths and then get your compass out and go along for the ride!

SAY NO MORE OFTEN: Travelling also taught me that it’s okay to say no. Before the trip I was rubbish at saying no. I never wanted to upset people and was scared they would think less of me if I did. The trouble with saying yes to everyone in order to please them is that you end up displeasing yourself. When you are travelling you don’t know anyone, so saying no isn’t a problem. Say no. It feels great!

Follow Liz and her family’s story on their family travel blog, It’s a Drama.

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