Saturday, July 13, 2019
Dear Daughter as You Travel
1. Go with eyes wide open. You are going to see things you have never seen before. Ornate architecture, with the most intricate designs. Take a moment to really see. Marvel at the craftsmanship! Appreciate the colors. The details. Let them resonant with your soul. Then after you have truly saw it, snap a picture. Use your artistic eye to capture the essence of that moment. It's more than a building, or a cathedral, or a sculpture, or a landscape; find it's story. Retell it.
2. Try local. Eat the food. Find out what makes that location special and taste it. Fish and chips in the UK, croissants in Paris, chocolate in Switzerland, spaetzle in Germany, whatever it may be. There are so many new things to try. Have courage! You may be skeptical, that's okay, try it anyway. No one demands that you love it, but you may. Also don't underestimate a good picnic. A baguette and cheese with a new flavor of crisps might be what you remember most from a new spot.
3. You really only need 6 hours of sleep each day as you travel. Sleep will come. It may be short but it will be sweet. You have so much to experience every day. I've seen your itinerary and it is packed full. Make the most of it. Try not to think of how tired you are. Push through. Keep your eyes open. If you really need a power nap, take one. Just remember, these 16 days will go fast. Every minute is an opportunity, seize it.
4. It's not worth it to complain. For the overall enjoyment of your trip and the goodness of the group, let the difficulties go. Yes, people will annoy you. Be kind anyway. Yes, you will be exhausted and your feet will hurt. Take your next step anyway. You may have a different agenda, be willing to compromise. Whenever you find yourself shifting toward the negative, stop yourself and find something, anything to be grateful for in that moment.
5. Talk to the locals! Even a two minute conversation can enhance your experience. Ask questions. Go past your comfort zone. If someone does or says something that you find meaningful, ask their name. Remember them. Journal it.
6. Get to know your fellow travelers. You are sharing this incredible journey with others. Find out what you have in common but more importantly, discover what makes you each different and unique. Ask what they thought of your shared experience. Notice things. If someone seems lonely, talk to them. If someone seems homesick, share a picture of your puppy. Have empathy. This is a new thing for most of you and while it is and will be amazing, someone may have anxiety or fears. Be a friend. Be kind. Be you.
7. Know your limits. As an introvert, you are going to be pushed into socialization around the clock. If you need solitude, find it. Take a minute with your headphones in to tune out all the chaos, just don't stay there. Recharge then reengage.
8. Journal! Of course I want you to share all your experiences with us back home. I found Facebook to be a wonderful way to do that but it also had many benefits to me as well. I also want you to document this trip in your own way too. You will want to remember everything you experienced. The stories told. The people you met. The food you tried. The things you saw. How you felt in each place. Write it down. Make it your own, but do it. And if you get a chance, we really would love a Facebook post and pictures from time to time.
9. Travel smart! You are an intelligent young woman. I have every confidence you will use common sense and be safe. Tuck away your passport and cash. Be aware of your surroundings. Don't talk to the men on the stairs of Sacre De Couer. They are hustlers, they will want to put a bracelet on you. In this instances, be firm, be confident, be rude in necessary. In general, be kind, but if someone is putting you in danger or making you uncomfortable, your safety comes first.
10. Communicate! Have a plan and stick to the plan. If your group is meeting up at a certain time, be there. If there is something you are interested in doing, let someone know. This trip is what you make of it, speak up.
11. Sing your heart out! When you are standing in those cathedrals and your voices blend and reverberate off those high ceilings, close your eyes and feel it. I get tears just thinking of the beautiful music you are going to make. Sing baby girl. Let that beautiful voice of yours find its way into the rafters. Let your story be left in the timbers of those magnificent buildings.
You are loved! I am so proud of you. You are blessed. You are a world traveler. Ever growing.
I am praying for you every step of the way. Be safe sweets. Have fun!