Have you ever read articles about what people regret the most when they are at the end of their lives? Usually, on that list is the statement, "I wish I had traveled more".
So what of that? What is holding you back?
"I have a responsibility to my family" you might say.
Damn right you do! Lets think outside the box, shall we? Because truly, at the end of your life, you don't want that regret to be on your list when you really can do something about it now. And your family will eventually thank you for stepping out on a limb and for showing them how to take those risks .
Here is some more food for thought.
1. The world is changing - FAST! Get on board or miss out.
The 21st Century will shake out much differently than the 20th.
It was reasonable to assume that if you grew up in the second half of the twentieth century you were told to go to school, study hard, get a good job, and stay in that job for 40 years until you collect your prized pension.
Not so anymore.
Things began to transform quickly at the turn of the 21st century. Jobs that will emerge in the next decade don't even exist today! Thanks to the rapid pace of technology and globalization, change happens faster than a blink now.
I have to ask myself, how do I prepare my kids for a job that doesn't even exist yet?
Let that sink in deep.
Certainly not with a school curriculum that was written in the 19th century!
Think fast, think global, think flexible. Your kids will have to stay ahead of the curve in order to understand how to fit in and succeed - at whatever they do.
These are some keys which (we think) only can be acquired in the big, open world.
These keys will make your kids stand out from their peers.
When your kids see the raw world for themselves, they will acquire this worldly knowledge like a second nature. They will grasp much more quickly than their peers that global sensitivity and integration may lead them to potential clients on another continent! Learning through personal experience, coupled with the boldness that is necessary to have this kind of adventure, will increase the horizon of their future.
Their opportunities will not be limited by timidity.
The time will come when they will need to know, I can do this, and in some part, that courage will come from everything they experienced as travelers. There is no better school room that the world. Believe it!
2. Avoid the Post Secondary Debt Trap
How many of you have read anything about post secondary debt? It's pretty dismal.
See for yourself...
Here's a sobering question: How many of us still carry post secondary debt?
Does post secondary completion guarantee a well paying job in your field of study?
If we know the answers to these questions, why are we leading our children to make the same decisions we made?
This is the 21st century. What worked before is not necessarily going to work now. Make that decision to attend post secondary carefully, because the rewards aren't guarenteed, and the costs are dire.
Put the money and effort into something that will make a real difference.
Think Language acquisition and immersion opportunities.
Think global networking.
Think online schooling while you're on the road - because the Three R's are important.
3. The Value of Foreign Languages and Cultural Sensitivity in the Business World
Did you know that Asia is 50 years ahead of North America in the way it does transactions?
Paper money is almost obsolete in China.
Only tourists use paper money.
The Chinese use mostly WeChat, a mobile phone app that is all in one. Phone home, pay bills, buy street food, go to Starbucks (yes, there is Starbucks in China) all with WeChat.
In many other parts of SE Asia, paper money is also less used.
Mobile technology is the name of the game in Asia, folks.
So if you want to do business with Asia, you need to understand that when people go to make a purchase, self service kiosks, e - wallets, and online payment systems are the norm here.
THINK E - COMMERCE ON STEROIDS!!
When we were in Bangkok, I rarely had to leave our condo because through my Grab app, I could order food in, order groceries, order a ride share, all for very little extra money. This is a normal way of doing business, folks!
Here is the shoe on the other foot...
Can you imagine advising an Asian company on how to design a product, an app, or a service, that will fit the North American market.
How are you going to bring that product to market to a population that still uses cash?
Asian companies might have a hard time adapting to us as a result.
How much insight those consultants, (i.e. your kids) could bring to the table, because they have straddled both worlds and you have had those conversations with them.
Teaching moments translated into marketable job skills.
Add in the potential that those consultants are bilingual/mulitlingual... WOW!
BTW English and Mandarin make a great combo for the 21st century.
Add Spanish into the equation and now you have THE FULL MEAL DEAL!
By the way, we ordered food in almost every day not because I am too lazy to cook (well, maybe yes), but because the kitchens here are so small. Why are kitchens small? As far as I can tell, people don't cook at home very much. Why? Because street food is cheap. Sometimes it's cheaper to buy takeout or order delivery than to pay for groceries. I buy a few groceries to keep in our apartment because we get late night munchy attacks and coffee in the morning in your PJ's is nice. But cooking at home 3 meals per day is not the norm here. That's very different than in Canada. Hmmm....might be a consideration when planning a trip, giving travel advice or designing an app, etc..
4. Living as Part of an International Community
We have met so many fascinating people around the world! And they come in all forms of shapes and sizes. Needless to say, the longer you stay in a place, the more opportunities there are to meet and grow those new relationships. But even in short time spans it is possible to meet other people, whether they be other travelers or locals. I find the important part is being willing to talk to strangers.
I know... it totally flies in the face of what we were taught as children. "Don't talk to strangers!" or they will eat you up.
You should follow common sense, ie. don't go looking for trouble otherwise you will probably find it. Travel in groups. Socialize in public areas. Be wary of where you go and with whom after sunset. Watch what the locals are doing and take their lead.
Even so, there is opportunity to talk and get to know people. I like staying in AirBnB's for that reason. Although you can stay in hostels and hotels and still meet people, as a family, that has not been a practical option for us. In order to have a sense of normalcy for our children while on the road, I have found choice of living accomodations is important. Having a place to crash that looks like a regular home, with bathrooms, a kitchen and room to roam, is part of our sanity when traveling for long periods of time.
When you live in an AirBnB type accomodation, you will likely have neighbors and local business you can patronize. If you stay in that place for longer than a week, you will get to know people who live and work in that neighborhood if you are willing to be friendly and chat while you are purchasing those chocolate bars for today's day trip.
My point is, you can make those connections with local people. It will give you a sense of what it would be like to live in that country, in that culture. That experience will go a long way in your child's mind when they are young adults, trying to decide where they should situate themselves. It removes psychological barriers - suddenly moving away isn't terrifying anymore, because that young adult remembers when they lived in that house in Malaysia (for instance).
A personal note about staying in one place for longer than a week. You will find the cheapest rents that way - many AirBnB home owners offer long term stay discounts. So it works in you financial favor as well.
When we staying in Johor Bahru for 1 month, we loved getting to know the people who ran the restaurants and grocery stores in our area. And since we are church going folks, I found a church to attend with my kids that was one bus ride away. My kids were also able to attend Friday night youth groups. It was a relief for them to hang out with local kids, their own age, instead of their old fogey parents! I got to attend a women's luncheon at this church as well. When we attended services on Sunday, we would see familiar faces. Having local friends made our time in Johor Bahru so much more special.
During our two weeks in Chiang Mai, Thailand, we met another family that was also traveling SE Asia. We became fast friends and they even journeyed to Malaysia to join us for a few days. Our friendship started because I was willing to start chatting like a lunatic with the mom while we were sitting on a bench in a mall. Both of us were exhausted from the heat and from chasing our kids around. So I did the "mom" thing and started talking to her about the kids. It was the start of a beautiful friendship!
|Enjoying the Acquarium in Kuala Lumpur with friends we made in Thailand||Going to Church in Kuala Lumpur||Our host in Siem Riep, Cambodia. Ravut was like a big brother who took such good care of us! So thankful!|