"Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime." Mark Twain
Travel to Europe with kids can be challenging. But does traveling with your children make you a better parent? One of our customers, Marty Muse, believes it does.
Marty grew up in Indianapolis and didn't see much of the world as a child. He did the trips many people do, Florida and some stops in the Midwest. But it wasn't until he began to travel for business that he realized what he had been missing.
"Most of my life was in small town Indiana. I'd never been to New York City, never been to the West Coast, never been out of the country. Once I did those things, I realized how much I wish I had experienced that early (in life.) It changes who you are."
The Trip to Europe
Marty seized the opportunity to provide his daughter the kinds of travel experiences he didn't have when he was young. He took her on business trips to Montreal, New York and San Francisco. This fall, Muse and his wife, Amy, took their daughter to London, Paris and Rome through an agency called EF Tours, which offers guided educational tours throughout the world.
"Our tour guide, Sal, had a deep understanding of the history of London — a lot of things you just don't see in the history books. He took us to places tourists typically don't see and he took us there at the right time because he knew what was going to happen.
"He took us to Trafalgar Square and a guy came out in 'traditional garb,' un-scrolled this piece of paper (and) started screaming at the top of his voice, 'Here Ye, Hear Ye!'
"I thought I had stepped back into 1793. I asked the tour guide what was going on and he said that guy comes out every day at the same time with the news."
The scene in London was a memorable one and became a great travel memory, but it was an experience in Paris on the next leg of the trip that really offered Marty the teaching opportunity travel to Europe with kids can provide.
"We were in the Latin Quarter one night and we went out to dinner on our own. The waitress came up and I turned to my daughter and said, 'I bet you dessert that this waitress knows more than one language.'"
With the stakes established, the negotiations began. It was agreed that she spoke English and obviously French. The question was the total number of languages she spoke.
The answer: six
"I was like, what are you doing being a waitress?"
The woman was in her final year at the Sorbonne and, like many college students, was waiting tables to earn extra money. But the fact that she was fluent in six different languages made her an example for Marty's daughter.
"The comment afterwards to her was, 'Honey you're 14. If you can only speak English, and you have the best education in the world, you're limited geographically as to where you can exercise (your) profession. This (woman), fluent in 6 languages, can do (anything) and go anywhere she wants.'"
Marty and his wife took their daughter to see the great sights in Europe. Yet perhaps the greatest single lesson their daughter received came from a waitress in the Latin Quarter, and the price was the cost of dinner. Travel to Europe with kids pays off in ways you can never anticipate.
"It's one of the things I tell her all the time. The competition is fierce and you need to experience it. She can be whatever she wants to be and she can do it anywhere she wants to do it. It's not just about being a doctor, lawyer, receptionist, whatever she wants to be. It's a big world out there."
The challenge now facing Marty and his wife is the fact that after the trip, their daughter has decided she wants to move to London and go to college. That will cost more than dessert.