Our Passport Stamp Acquisitions and More

“Transformative Travel” is the theme for our July blog hop at Generation Fabulous.  As I read through the posts, I can’t help but hum John Denver’s “I’m Leaving on a Jet Plane”!

world travellersContrary to belief, traveling to Europe with children is possible and can yield many wonderful memories!  We journeyed across the Atlantic eight years ago so that we could meet members of our expanded family circle.  At the time of our trip in 2005, we had hosted two foreign exchange students both of whom lived in Europe.

The pre-digital photos and accompanying stories have yet to be transformed into a scrapbook.  I do hate to admit that fact as scrapbooking used to be a priority in my life.  Thankfully, I do have journals from each of the kids as well as my own to reference.

So, let’s just pretend the scrapbook is complete and that we are peering inside right now.  Some of the intangible and tangible acquisitions included…

Passport Stamps

This was our children’s first experience with international travel.  They were quite excited to have their own passport!  Although we did not receive official stamps from each country, we did visit or drive through Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria and Liechtenstein.

A Warm Welcome

Our Welcome Party

We received a very warm welcome from our German “daughter”, Anne and her mother at the Frankfurt airport.  Anne was our family’s first exchange student during the ’02-03 school year.  Her home in Bochum served as our “home base” for the trip.

Breaking News Events

Tour de France

In France, we intercepted the Tour de France outside a rural village.  While waiting for the cyclists’ arrival, we heard firsthand accounts on the BBC of the London bombings which had occurred earlier in the day.  We followed both news events as possible throughout our trip.

Art appreciation & Sex Education

ParisWe hit many “name brand” sites while in Paris which provided opportunities to learn about architecture, art and sex!  Our son found one of the fountains outside the Pompidou Center of Modern Art especially hilarious.  Our daughter noted in her journal that she was not expecting to see “men & women nude & some men touching other womens breast (sic)” while at the Louvre.  One night in our hotel room, my son happened upon a pornography channel on the TV.  When I asked if he could understand the language, he remarked it was in “the language of men!”

Birthday Gifts & Souvenirs


Emma (far right) and her sisters

It seems as though mid-July is our favorite week to travel.  My son and I have celebrated our birthdays away from home more frequently than not.  During this trip, we celebrated in Luzern, Switzerland with our Swedish exchange student, Emma, her mother and two sisters.  Emma’s mother made a Swedish Princess Cake!

Happy Birthday!

BeretMy son selected a Swatch for his birthday gift from us.  The kids gave me a jumbo dark chocolate Toblerone.  Later in the trip, our German exchange student gave Ethan a copy of the just-released Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

In addition to the gifts, we had to find room in our luggage for my daughter’s beret, postcards, my son’s medieval artifacts and my handcrafted Christmas ornaments.


A European Breakfast!Although we did spent several nights in hotels, the families we visited were very gracious in sharing their living spaces with us.  Some of our fondest memories are those spent visiting around their tables.  There’s nothing like experiencing local life firsthand!

This trip helped expand our children’s experience of life beyond the Midwest cornfields. We want our children to know that they are not just Americans but world citizens.  Sure, physical travel can act as an agent of personal transformation.  However, it’s our individual relationships and global connections that can transform neighborhoods, communities and countries!

17 thoughts on “Our Passport Stamp Acquisitions and More

  1. How wonderful that you have hosted foreign exchange students and that you made the effort to take your children to Europe to see them and so much more. It sounds like a trip of a lifetime. Thank you for sharing your story and your pictures.
    Karen D. Austin recently posted…Travel Made Me Feel My YouthMy Profile

    • We do keep in touch with them! That was the reason I made a FB account initially years ago. They also send an occasional postcard especially if they are travelling. My daughter is hoping to return to Europe next summer and try to make contact with them again. Thanks for your comments.
      Phoebe recently posted…Our Passport Stamp Acquisitions and MoreMy Profile

  2. What a wonderful experience for all of you! I’m sure the families of your former exchange students were happy to be meeting you, too. Did your children participate in an exchange program, too?
    Ginger Kay recently posted…The monotony of travelMy Profile

    • Sadly, neither of my children have participated in an exchange program themselves. We are not a bilingual family and schools in our area do not teach foreign languages until high school. They have had other opportunities to travel since our Europe trip which I’m thankful for!
      Phoebe recently posted…Our Passport Stamp Acquisitions and MoreMy Profile

  3. What a great trip to go to Europe and visit your “other daughters” in their homes – that must have been so special for those girls AND your kids. So much excitement when you were there, too, from Tour de France to bombings. How wonderful.
    Beverly Diehl recently posted…Kinky Drinks & Grown-Up Toys #NSFWMy Profile

  4. Couldn’t agree more about travel for kids as they grow up. Ours are all grown now and still love to travel and have a much broader view of the world for it. Plus I learned that John Denver wrote Leaving On A Jet Plane because your post got me thinking about the song so I googled it.
    The GypsyNesters recently posted…How To ‘Drive’ to NewfoundlandMy Profile

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