The father-daughter bond is one of the most important there is. According to many studies, the presence or lack thereof can be a large determinant of a woman’s success in marriage and life. My father is my partner in crime, and he is 46 years my senior. He lived an entire lifetime before I even graced this earth. I’m not sure if it was right timing (if men are sometimes more ready at a later age) but whatever it was, it worked for us. I have been traveling with my father since I was born. We would go to Kauai, Hawaii for three months every year to escape the Wisconsin winters, and three months every year I got to run around Hawaii like the little Haole (Hawaiian slang for foreigner) I was.

The first time I stepped foot outside of the US I was 15 years old. Prague, Barcelona, and Paris was the itinerary. Once I was exposed to this world, I knew there was no going back. My dad and I have been to 23 countries over the past decade, and I wouldn’t be the same woman I am without these adventures.  It is hard to put into words the experiences gained while traveling, and just as travel is a crucial ingredient to the makeup of a human, so is the ever-important father-daughter relationship. Every situation is different, and I am acutely aware of how privileged and lucky my relationship is with my father.

I know this isn’t on the table for everyone, and I can’t, unfortunately, change that. But, to all the dads and daughters out there (if you’re both willing and able) – please travel together. Go somewhere or everywhere just the two of you, and really get to know each other. You don’t have a lot of time, and before you know it you will be off adventuring on your own, and your dad won’t be around forever.

Among the laundry list of lessons learned while traveling together, here are a few of the realizations from traveling with my dad: 

You have to prioritize the things you want in life 

Tim Ferris (best-selling author of the renowned 4 hour work week) once said that, “being busy is a satisfying substitute for doing important work.” My dad was never too busy for me, (although nowadays I think he would say I am too busy for him). My parents are divorced and my dad could have chosen a lot of other travel partners, but he didn’t, he always chose me. It’s funny how good it feels to be chosen, to be picked as the one to go on adventures with. It shouldn’t mean so much, but it always did in my case, and I think it always will.

It’s okay to eat with your hands and get messy 

I was stuffing sushi in my mouth at age 2. Literally, my dad had to stop me from consuming too much raw fish as I licked the Hawaiian sticky rice off my fingers as a child. He taught me that nothing was ever too weird and that trying things you’ve never had before is always a hell of a lot more fun. Food is such a vital piece to the cultural puzzle of a new destination, and now I’m not afraid to try anything thrown at me.

Staying playful makes life/travel a lot more fun 

Have you ever noticed the way children look at the world, or simply look at the ladybug in their hands? Pure shock, wonder, and excitement pour over their little faces because every experience seems new and exciting. Children touch everything, talk to strangers, and usually ask real/embarrassing questions. I think we tend to lose this natural curiosity as we grow older and get into our sterile routines. Stereotypically, I think this child-like quality of exploration and play is something most dads are really great at. My dad was great at simplifying and truly being content with what is right in front of him – whether that was scorpions in Chinese markets, street food, live frogs, or sunset boat cruises.

The challenging road is worth it 

Life is hard, travel can be really hard sometimes. Especially when you are slamming two worlds together on the road where you are crammed into tight spaces and extremely foreign places. You learn to respect the different worlds that each of you come from. Age difference, gender difference, interest difference – it all tends to melt away when you’re faced with situations in foreign places when you have to think and act as a team. 

You can never have enough time 

You can never re-live a day, and through our travels, I learned to grab life by the balls. You can’t buy time, you can’t prolong it, and the only thing you can do is make the most of every moment. When traveling, we would always be up before 7 am, ready to take on whatever lay ahead.

You can never have enough local libations 

Probably the most important lesson I have learned hands down. You can never have enough wine, alcohol, or local libation to accompany a meal, a trip, or lifetime. Enjoying a glass of wine in the company of new friends, or travel acquaintances tends to loosen things up and it is the quickest way into the inner workings of someone’s story.

Wandering is vital to growing up 

He let me wander. I would wander far and into strange situations, and I would always have to get myself out of them. Being given the leeway to wander, fall, scrape my knees and shake the dirt off was a crucial part of growing up. Venturing out of your comfort zone is the fastest way to grow, to unravel the layers of bubble wrap that most parents surround you with.

It is important to be a ‘yes’ human

Looking back on my 25 years of life, there aren’t TOO many things I regret saying yes to, but there are a lot more things I regret saying no to. Saying yes opens so many doors, windows, and crannies into spaces you could never have imagined. Yes to jumping off 40 ft cliffs in Thailand, yes to an impromptu dinner with newly met Turkish friends, yes to renting cars and getting stuck in tiny towns in Italy, yes to anything that might sound a little silly, dangerous or stupid.

It’s funny how your parents become exponentially cooler as you grow up. I never knew how good I had it until I was old enough to look back on all the adventures we had, (and continue to have) together. It’s hard to find people that you truly enjoy spending time with, and I am lucky enough to have a travel addict, up-for-anything counterpart as a father. What have you learned from traveling with a child or parent? I’m sure there are a million things to add to the list!