A Little Adventure … Six Things I Hope She Learns

airplane at airport

Ana at the airport, excited to go on her very first plane ride!

The adventure officially began today–although Ana and I landed in Asia yesterday, we slept for hours on end to combat the jetlag and the 35+ hours of plane rides, layovers, questionably tasty airplane food, and well, more layovers. Her jaw was permanently stuck in the open position once we left the airport in Chiang Mai, Thailand and our fairly large taxi SUV threaded through the humming traffic like a tiny sharp needle making quick work of a sewing project–in short, in zipped through the lanes like a go-cart even though it dominated nearly every other car on the road! She was amazed at the traffic, the motorbikes, and the fact that we’re on the opposite side of the road and noted it in hushed tones from the backseat as she plastered her face to the car window.

Ana’s own blog officially launched; I’ll be frank, it definitely made me smile when she noted that she wanted to share her own travel stories at A Little Adrift Jr (and those stories of other traveling kids, so she says); I swear I didn’t put her up to it, but I think it’s super cute :)

I’m not sure what the next six months will hold, but I know we will learn so much more about each other and ourselves on the journey. There so many character traits easily learned and honed while traveling; so, while it’s a tall order to expect all of these traits to manifest immediately, there are pieces and behaviors inherent to the process if you’re traveling slowly and these are a few I highly value. For myself, in the past three years on the road I watched each of these grow in myself, so I am hoping to plant the seeds within her for each of these traits, to aim for a deeper understanding of the different cultures, ideas, and people on the road.


Ana and I have so many privileges and opportunities by virtue of birth in the United States– and while this has it’s own drawbacks at times to be sure, she has never known hunger and was born with the right to a free education. Living on the road has taught me just how little I need to be happy, that although my smartphone and fancy shoes are certainly handy (and I like them a whole lot), they are not necessary. I hope she learns to be thankful for the things she has and the kindnesses shown to her by others wherever she may travel now and later in life because gratitude is one of those rare qualities that is never in surplus no matter how much you have flowing from you!


I highly value education, and not just learning for learning’s sake, but rather learning out of a deep-seated curiosity about the world. When my niece returns to public school, she will have so many “other” things vying for her attention and trying to take her focus, I hope this jaunt through Asia ignites her curiosity in the world, her wonder at the differences and similarities between cultures, and her thirst to always ask questions and figure things out–children grow wonder inside of them, it erupts naturally in a way adults somehow lose with age. In fact, I know having her by my side will reignite some of my own wonder that was too quickly replaced with an alarming nonchalance over the years. In just two days, she has already made me grin at the pieces of life in Thailand I forget to properly appreciate and notice.

A jade Buddha at a Wat Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai, Thailand

A jade Buddha at a Wat Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai, Thailand


At 11 years old, Ana is truly just beginning to fully learn the meaning of being considerate — children can be delightfully self-involved when they are young, but as they get older that shifts into a larger awareness in the world around them. In seeing the people and cultures so different from our own, I hope she learns empathy for the people around her and manifest that empathy in kindness and compassion toward everyone she meets. Throughout our time here in Asia we will seek out volunteering projects and ways to give back to the communities we meet and find some perspective; something I have always done on my trips but that I hope we can continue together.


Again, this is a tall order for an 11 year old, but a dash of humility and humbleness can go a long way. Who knows though, she occasionally wants to be a pop-star at this point so, in that pursuit, humility might not serve her. But, in all things non-pop-star related, having concerns and awareness outside of her own bubble of life has no choice but to give way to the consideration and gratitude.

Live From a Place of Possibilities

I tell her daily that her dreams are only limited by her imagination, that children can change the world and many do change the world. That she can live any lifestyle she chooses, pick her own priorities, become a teacher, an explorer, an entrepreneur–that the world is full of possibilities and in actually looking around and taking in the information around us so many new avenues and paths open up. For Ana, this means sharing with me the fun and quirky ideas she has, training her brain that there is no single “correct” answer to questions and ideas (which is what we teach in school). I love Asia for the many, many quirky, wacky, nonsensical “sense” this place makes every time I visit, so if she can wrap her brain around this place, then she’s doing pretty well in my book!

Elephants in Decorations

An elephant decked out in paint and decorations for the Holi festivities in Jaipur, India


Flat out truth: I want her to have such an amazing time that it lights her flame of wanderlust. I know there are some (gasp) non-travelers in the world content to build a home-base, a family unit, and a steady career. All wonderful, and I salute you, no doubt one day a piece of that dream will be hers no matter what we do. But for now, Ana and I have adventures to find,  elephants to hug, temples to photograph, mountains to climb and food to eat; it’s gonna be great and my chief goal through all of this is to make sure she has a really great time wherever we may roam :-)

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49 Responses to A Little Adventure … Six Things I Hope She Learns

  1. HoustonAC January 9, 2012 at 11:30 pm #

    Hey Shannon, are you going to post some more information about this trip? You are not just going to tease us and nothing else? I have always wanted to travel the world. Think about the freedom. Thanks for sharing this anyway. Hoping to read more.

    • Anonymous January 9, 2012 at 11:35 pm #

      Heh, I have been a bit lax over the past few months in sharing, but I hope to post more stories in the coming weeks!  :)

  2. Aarons Garage Doors December 16, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

    This looks like fun. I have always wanted to travel to exotic places. Well, I guess I will have to go through your experience. Congratulations Shannon.

  3. Bluegoldmedia December 13, 2011 at 4:52 pm #

    This is really cool. To be able to do this with your niece too…Just an overall wonderful experience. 

  4. DamianDouglas December 13, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

    Shannon this appears to be fun. And to be there with your niece is so awesome. Thanks for sharing this experience with us.

  5. Roundwego December 5, 2011 at 1:52 pm #

    Shannon – What an incredible experience to have your niece on the road with you…in SE Asia, nonetheless. I’m sure it will be an eye-opening experience she’ll cherish all her life, not to mention, re-open your eyes to things you’ve become more immune to with so many adventures under your belt. I’m excited to watch your journey unfold and hope beautiful Laos is treating you guys well. Enjoy this special time.

    • Anonymous December 7, 2011 at 9:54 am #

      She is definitely adding an entire new dimension to the travels now, she sees so many things I don’t notice! Laos has been wonderful, thank you so much for the support :)

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  9. Bret @ GreenGlobalTravel November 29, 2011 at 10:01 am #

    Loved this post! I have a 10 year old daughter, and recently wrote a guest post on yTravel Blog about why travel and adventure are so important for our kids, so I can relate to your excitement. I’ve had my daughter contribute to several of my published travel stories, so I love that your daughter is doing her own blog as well!

    • Anonymous November 30, 2011 at 9:43 pm #

      Thanks Bret! It really is such an eye-opening experience for them at this age…and the blogging/writing makes sure that they are always processing information and thinking of ways to articulate it –really great that you let your daughter write as well! :)

  10. Jade November 21, 2011 at 8:46 pm #

    Awesome! It’s great you are taking your neice travelling! Shes going to have a great time!

    • Anonymous November 22, 2011 at 6:55 am #

      Thank you so much Jade! I hope it is something that she appreciates even more as time passes, since it’s hard for her to have perspective now sometimes :)

  11. Nora Whalen October 30, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    What important lessons! I was blessed to get to travel all over the world at a young age. The experience she is embarqing on with you will forever have an impact on her and her perspective. What a gift you have given her.
    Thanks for sharing! Oh, your photos are gorgeous!

    • Anonymous October 30, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

      Thank you Nora! I really do hope she remembers the experiences and people here as she grows up and (hopefully) travels to more places! Thanks for weighing in :)

  12. Hariram October 28, 2011 at 5:44 am #

    Your writing is very engrossing Shannon! I’m sure Ana will cherish this throughout her life. Reading her blog makes me want to be a kid again…that way I would’ve saved every Rupee of my pocket money for travelling!

    • Anonymous October 30, 2011 at 12:18 am #

      Thank you Hariram! Her has a really pleasant innocence to the things she is seeing and doing…and like you said, if I had been exposed to travel younger it would have been my focus a whole lot sooner! Thanks for weighing in and sharing :)

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  14. Margo October 25, 2011 at 10:38 pm #

    Oh my gosh, Shannon, this is so cool that you and Ana are doing this. What a lucky 11 year old.. and lucky aunt. Look forward to following along!

  15. Gray October 25, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

    This is so cool, Shannon. What a great adventure for her (well, for you both, really)!

    • Anonymous October 26, 2011 at 11:29 pm #

      Thanks Gray, I have to agree, the trip is just as much neat for me as it is for her, I have already done things in a week in Chiang Mai that I never did in the five months I lived here, so it will be a fun adventure! :)

  16. Akshaye October 25, 2011 at 1:07 am #

    One word came out of my mouth after reading this is “WoW”..Ana is really lucky kid..my wishes are with you gals on your quest to new journey… will be pressing RSS button on her blog too…..keep it up…

    • Anonymous October 26, 2011 at 11:28 pm #

      Thank you so much Akshaye, I appreciate your support, she is just beginning to understand how lucky she is to do this trip and explore this part of the world! :)

  17. GotPassport October 24, 2011 at 9:56 pm #

    Welcome to Chiang Mai Ana and welcome back to you, Shannon. With an aunt like you on her side 100% supportive, I am excited for Ana and the path of possibilities she has before her. That’s ONE lucky child. I hope she realizes how fortunate she truly is!   BTW:  M now  has 5 Thai kids to play with and 3 of them are 12 yo.  Come over for a visit and a play date sometime. :-) 

    • Anonymous October 26, 2011 at 11:32 pm #

      Thank you so much A! We had a wonderful time last night hanging and I am so glad the girls got along; we’re looking forward to a play-date soon!  :)

  18. Erik Smith October 24, 2011 at 7:07 pm #

    You two are so lucky to share this experience together! I’ll be reading both blogs with anticipation! 

    • Anonymous October 26, 2011 at 11:27 pm #

      Thank you so much Erik! And I appreciate you commenting on her blog too, she got a kick out of it big time :)

  19. Laura October 24, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

    Shannon this is AMAZING!! I can’t believe you are taking your niece with you for the year. What an opportunity for an 11 year old. I’m sure she will learn all of these things and so much more from you and traveling :)

    • Anonymous October 26, 2011 at 11:27 pm #

      Thanks Laura! She’s having such a good time already, I appreciate the support. Hope you are well :)

  20. Alex October 24, 2011 at 2:30 pm #

    This is so inspiring! How fun that she’s embarking on this journey at such a young age–and so motivated and enthusiastic already that she’s going to document it.  Really love this post and hope to do this with my future-kids and my niece one day!! thanks for sharing :-)

    • Anonymous October 26, 2011 at 11:25 pm #

      I think the blog is going to be an awesome way for her to keep a public journal of sorts so that she has it to look back on.  Thank you for weighing in Vitra, I have been surprised in just a week how easy it is to travel and how adaptable kids are! :) 

  21. Andi Perullo October 24, 2011 at 10:20 am #

    All I can say is that I have goosebumps!  I wish you 2 the MOST extraordinary journey!!!

    • Anonymous October 26, 2011 at 11:18 pm #

      Thank you Andi!  :)  

  22. medinipur classified October 24, 2011 at 6:23 am #

    Really an awesome post….

  23. Alouise October 23, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

    Travel always teaches us something. I’m sure this trip will have a huge and lasting impact on your niece’s perception of herself and others. 

    I think it’s great she started a blog. Not only will she get to share her experience with others, but she can look back on it when she comes home and see how she changed on your adventure. The title is  fantastic.

    • Anonymous October 26, 2011 at 11:01 pm #

      Thank you Alouise! I love the blog aspect too because I have hopes that she uses it a bit like a daily journal so that, exactly like you mentioned, she has a record of the journey  :)

  24. Anonymous October 23, 2011 at 6:13 pm #

    So so cool! I took a peek at her blog, and geez, she’s an incredible writer for an 11-year-old! Surely this adventure will have its ups and downs, but I don’t think she (or you!) will ever regret it. Best of luck! 

    • Anonymous October 26, 2011 at 10:59 pm #

      I couldn’t agree more Christine…and I can’t even take any credit for it because she wrote those posts completely on her own. As for the ups and downs, there have already been a few tough moments as we planned the trip, and no doubt more when we’re on the road (it’s nice having a place in Chiang Mai right now) but I look forward to the adventure :)

  25. Claire October 23, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

    I think she will get these things and so much more on this trip. Just by virtue of the fact that she was even willing to go, speaks volumes about her thoughts on life and her quest to experience it. And having you around every step of the way-someone who has already learned them and continues to (because you never stop learning those things) will only enhance what she gleans from this experience. Glad she started a blog-will def check it out!

    • Anonymous October 26, 2011 at 10:57 pm #

      Thanks Claire! I really appreciate the support and she loved the comment on her own blog :)  It’s true that even I don’t stop learning these, and I have the feeling together we will see and learn so much that I can’t even fathom yet!

  26. Heather Rae October 23, 2011 at 1:32 pm #

    I’ve been following your blog for a while, though I rarely comment.  Anyhow, I just wanted to say — first, your niece is adorable, and I think it’s amazing that you’re homeschooling her while traveling.  What an amazing experience for the both of you!  I can’t wait to read of your adventures.  You’ve inspired me that perhaps one day I can take my niece or nephew traveling with me — we would have such an awesome time!  Oh, and your niece’s blog?  It’s fantastic!  I love that she called it A Little Adrift Jr.  Too sweet!  She’s a great little writer too.  :)

    • Anonymous October 26, 2011 at 10:54 pm #

      Thank you for weighing in Heather! I may be biased, but Ana is a pretty great writer, she has a fun innocence in her posts  :)  As for the homeschooling., it’s working out surprisingly well — with the online program in our state it really has allowed me, a non-teacher, to take this trip with her without too much stress. If you are to travel with your own niece and nephews the worst part of it all is the pre-planning, now that we’re on the road it’s amazing how adaptable she is to each new circumstance!

  27. Christina Fields October 23, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

    What a fantastic journey for an 11 year old. Kudos to you and her parents for giving her this opportunity. My parents allowed me to travel at a young age and it changed the course of my life. Looking forward to following along with you both. 

    • Anonymous October 26, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

      I can only think that starting young helps widen your viewpoint so much sooner — I only traveled once I reached college and would have loved to go younger. Thanks for weighing in Christina, and sharing your own travel experience! :)

  28. Heather Knight October 23, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    Can you have her set up an RSS button her blog so I can subscribe to her feed?  That would be awesome!  I love her blog already. :)

    • Anonymous October 26, 2011 at 10:40 pm #

      Good call Heather! Thanks for pointing it out, have added the link on her site :)  Here’s her feed link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/ALittleAdriftJr   Thanks for reading and supporting, she loves knowing some people are following along! :)

  29. Jaime October 23, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    She is lucky to be able to travel and experience so many new things at her age. These are things she will never forget and you two are going to have a blast

    • Anonymous October 26, 2011 at 10:38 pm #

      Thank you! I am really excited to be on this journey with her — every day her eyes get a little wider at every thing that she is seeing.  Thanks for stopping in and for the vote of confidence!

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