While travelling on a train recently I could not help smiling at a young mother and her two children. A little boy and his little sister, they were clearly excited, the boy especially was like a hyperactive Duracell bunny.
There was a mature gentleman sitting across from them attempting to engage them in conversation, not an easy task I assure you. They were jabbering incessantly and fidgeting constantly, the reason for their excited behaviour; this was their holiday.
Eventually the man asked the boy where they were going “Scarborough” both children blurted out in wide-eyed stereo.
“Have you been before?” the gentleman enquired
“Yes, of course” retorted the little girl, in a matter of fact tone that almost sounded like an admonishment.
They were both like little jumping beans, not just about the train journey they were taking, although they pointed at and informed their mother about everything we passed but also the destination. Their infectious excitement was for a Victoria seaside resort in Yorkshire. One I personally like incidentally but also a place that has been described as mundane, dated, uninspiring and even boring.
These children did not care, regardless of the fact they had been many times before it was likely to provide them with many adventures.
“a pow-wow with the tribal elders in a tepee smoking peace pipes”
Visiting Hartley Bay which is the village of the Gitga’at First Nation in the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia with a few other visitors the experience was in complete contrast to the train journey. We spent a few hours walking around the village, visiting their cultural hall, witnessing a small unpretentious open canoe festival and meeting a few of the villagers.
I spoke with my fellow travellers afterwards and it was evident they were disappointed and considered it had been a boring waste of an afternoon. What had they expected, a pow-wow with the tribal elders in a tipi (tepee) smoking peace pipes, maybe a rain dance or possibly a hunting trip in the forest? Hopefully not but they definitely anticipated something more.
Whilst I enjoyed exploring another culture, their reaction is predictable. If aboriginal tourism is to be successful then there is a need for more to attract the average tourist. It is a subject that really interests me but at the moment not one I know enough about to comment upon. More research is required and then an informed commentary maybe possible.
Regardless of what was experienced that day however I cannot help but think those two children would have been totally blown away by a visit to any First Nation community.
In this manner we have a great deal to learn from children; staying in a hotel, eating out, passing through an airport, taking a train journey or going on holiday, the destination is unimportant. These simple ‘adventures’ are lost to many of us, we have become blasé sometimes the most jaded can show disinterest in even the most spectacular of destinations.
This spirit of adventure and wide-eyed sense of wonder at the world around us eludes most adults. It is something which slowly seems to eek away as we grow older. Young children unsurprisingly willingly demonstrate these qualities but once pubescence is reached getting excited has become far too ‘uncool’ for any self-respecting teenager. It seems we can grow out of our sense of adventure.
This is a shame, travel should be exciting. Deciding where to visit, booking and planning the trip, packing our bags and making the journey should set the pulse racing of any traveller regardless of age. Arriving at a destination and exploring unfamiliar streets, terrain or culture is one of the main reasons we travel.
“ itching to pack their bags”
Spending plenty of time on the road, nights in different hotels or hostels, the pleasure of airport security or border crossings and endless applications for visas can become tiresome. It is not surprising some travellers become jaded and forget the reasons they started travelling in the first place. Yet these are the little things which are adventures for children.
If this sounds familiar then maybe some time off is the answer, taking time out either staying in one place for a few weeks or months maybe even heading home. A change of scenery and a feeling of being settled can often provide the answer. Soon enough the batteries will become recharged and it will be time to hit the road again. When the time is right the traveller will know and will be itching to pack their bags to catch the first plane or train to anywhere.
Recapturing our inner child, those feelings of wonder, not just at the spectacular destinations but for the pleasure of the journey can benefit us all. Leaving our preconceptions and expectations behind is not easy but can also be the cause of many disappointments. This is probably one of the reasons children always seem to enjoy their journeys they don’t have any expectations beyond adventures.
Parents can probably understand the appeal of travelling to children; they witness it every time they tell their kids where they are going and share the experience with them. I am not a parent but feel sure that this adds to the pleasure for them, allowing them to share in the enthusiasm of a great adventure with their children.
I hope that you are able to enjoy your travels, enjoying the journey as much as the destination. We are all children at heart, there are moments when we are overwhelmed by our own enthusiasm, engulfed in sheer glee. Travelling is hopefully one of those activities that bring such moments of childish joy.