When I was pregnant with my first daughter, Kalyra, I felt as if those close to me were celebrating something other than the life growing inside me.
“So that’s the end of the travels, hey? You can’t travel with kids now.”
I felt as if I was walking a path to the gallows. Why did I have to give up my dreams and turn from a life of joy and freedom to one filled with routine, rocking chairs, and labels?
I was determined to prove the naysayers wrong. I wanted to be like the family I had met only months before on the slow boat from Laos to Thailand. They had an active 3 year old, a bubbly nine month old baby, and they were carted around in prams and backpacks. It looked challenging, but they managed. And they were happy.
“If someone else can do it, I can too.”
Kalyra, now aged six, has accumulated more stamps in her passport than most adults. My youngest, Savannah, now two, has five. In three weeks, we leave to road trip around Australia for 12-18 months.
What do you mean, “You can’t travel with kids”? Here are four reasons for why I travel the world with my kids.
1) Magical memories made while bonding with happy parents
When you go on a family holiday, you leave all the worries of your everyday life behind. There are no schedules to adhere to, no toys to pick up, no errands to run, no school to attend, no bosses to answer to, and no end of day exhaustion that leaves you barely able to mumble a “Hello, tell me about your day,” to your child.
You can even live a little dangerously, like having an ice cream every day, or staying up past 10pm.
What your children need most are loving, happy parents who spend quality moments with them. When we travel together we strengthen our family bond with shared memories of adventure, carefree living, exploration, laughter and play time.
2) We accumulate experiences, not possessions
I don’t think there is anything wrong with owning material things; it becomes an issue when we rely on them for meaning or identity.
When children start traveling at an early age they learn to live in the present. We want our kids to see life as about enjoying experiences and accumulating memories— it’s what shapes who we are and is the only thing that we can take with us to the end.
3) The world becomes their classroom
Once a child enters school, their innate desire to explore, ask questions, and goof off slowly gets shoved back into a box of rules, regulation, and conformity.
When you travel with your children, all of this is removed.
The world teaches your child based on their curiosities and interests. It’s a natural absorption of knowledge and experiential-based learning that schools can never replicate with such enrichment.
The earth becomes their classroom and all its inhabitants with varying degrees of skin colour, languages and beliefs become their teachers.
Some would call it “The village raising the child.”
4) The ability to make new friends- anywhere
My children are quickly learning that strangers can easily become friends. All it takes is a smile to break down barriers, a common connection, a few stories to share, games to play, and a laugh thrown in.
They are learning about what truly matters: connecting via laughter, smiles, and spiritual essence- not labels, traditions, and beliefs. These differences become something to celebrate, rather than fear or judge.
“It is because of fear that we judge, it’s because of judging that we hate, and it is because of hating that we hurt”
My daughters haven’t had many opportunities to develop long-term friendships, but the trade off is that they never have any problems making friends wherever they may be.
Traveling with kids is not an easy decision. There are the constant fears of the possible negative impact upon their lives. Staying at home and choosing a conventional life won’t take these fears away. You’re a parent, and that comes with never-ending questions and concerns, but you can’t make your decisions based upon an imaginary future.
The challenges aren’t too different than what you would experience if you were living the settled life; it’s just in a different location, but this time you are managing it as a parent who is happy and fulfilled.
How about you? How has travel benefited your family?
By Caz Makepeace
Caz loves to help people travel more and create better memories. She (and her husband, Craig) share their travel lifestyle and tips on their site, YTravelBlog.com. You can watch their video series here to learn their top 9 travel tips.