We always knew travel would be essential for our family. As we are from two different countries, it wasn’t a choice. We’d have to see family in both the U.S. and England. So, at four months old, my son took his first flight to visit Granny and Grandad and he’s been going ever since.

But there was more to it. My husband and I agreed early on that travel was the ticket. Experiencing new cultures, customs, flavors and fusions is deliciously tantalizing. And such opportunities were better than any toy in a store. Sharing these adventures with our son has been a different kind of learning curve for each of us. To move a group of people through the world is daunting, especially if it’s a mom-and-son excursion. Once I thought I lost him outside the airport in Sint Maarten. Desperately searching for our hotel shuttle, while talking to my husband on the phone, I turned around and he had vanished. My heart shattered in a moment. My throat closed in an instant. Breathless, I started shouting his name and walking in circles for what seemed like hours. It was truly a matter of seconds before I saw him, immersed in the crowd that had merged to dance and sway to the musicians’ plucking strings and tapping bongos. He was captivated by the rhythm.

This is why it’s been such an incredible chance to go, anywhere, everywhere, whenever we can. Witnessing his spirit come to life, overflowing with curiosity, is the best gift.

People have asked why we don’t just stay put, there’s so much to explore in the local vicinity, and the USA is vast. And this is true. Many adventures have occurred in our community. Trips to science centers and museums, beach days and trolley rides have all been part of our collective “travel” journeys. That said, something is intoxicating about getting out of your safety bubble and watching life unfold with all its dynamic and unpredictable nuance. Discovering new ways of life, stories and histories only promotes growth and understanding, community and acceptance.

Sure, the luggage, planning, coordinating, organizing and financial impact of trips can be taxing. But I wouldn’t pay for anything else. All the headaches are trumped by the memories, moments and milestones we’ve individually accomplished along the path. Travel forces you to challenge yourself, think differently, be humble and flourish in ways you never knew possible. After all, isn’t life about growth? Developing from baby to toddler, to child to teenager, it’s a journey of its own. Plus, along the way, we’re learning a seismic amount of information. And travel is all about learning. Through this motion, we’re nurturing a young child’s innate inquisitive nature. This is priceless.

Whether it’s catamarans and swimming in St. Maarten, running through the waves in Cartegena, strolling through the streets of Buenos Aires or relaxing in the hills of the South Downs, England, we’ve fostered a sense of adventure and intrigue that continues to develop. Along the way, he’s learning confidence and poise about interacting with the world in all these diverse situations. He’s understanding how to be comfortable even when life isn’t cozy; what a life lesson!

There’s a beautiful world to explore and endless cultures to appreciate. Travel has been an incredible perspective on life and the people of the world. And I hope, through all our adventures, near and far, my son will also learn to love humanity and choose to be curious, kind and forever keen to learn something new.