Long Term Travel with Kids – Awesome Adventure – or Bad Parenting?

Blog entry created by: Teresa

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Since I work for an archaeological institute, I work with many people who have traveled extensively.  Most people have been supportive of my round the world adventure plans and of the non-profit I am starting.  Many have even connected me with charities where my kids and I can volunteer.  I am very grateful to them and happy for their words of encouragement.  More on that later…

“I want to offer my full support, but don’t go, your kids may not make it!”

Sometimes, however, I am thrown off guard when someone well-traveled tells me that the trip is a really bad idea.  They ask me to reconsider it for my good and that of my children.  I find that it is similar to the way pregnant women attract horror stories about giving birth.

A few have mentioned that I had better change to a month-long trip as they and their friends have found that kids are good for four weeks at the most – and then they are terribly restless, homesick and tired.  Even today, they tell me that their grown children say, “Thank God we were able to come home at the end of the month!”

One person told me that children will have trouble with the food in other countries – one of her kids shattered the huge glass jar of peanut butter she brought so they would have something to eat and she had to separate the glass from the peanut butter – “Oh my god”, I thought, “Am I going to have to risk having my kids eat glass??”

One person had me all excited – telling me that she had traveled around the world when she was in her twenties.  Then she got to the part where she was in a bad earthquake and how she narrowly escaped being trapped in a country when war broke out.  When she later traveled with her children, one became ill and she made them return home early, which was a good thing because her doctor said in another couple of days the child would likely have died – I think she said it was a bad case of Malaria.  (That one was even worse than the peanut butter – glass story.)

More Words of Advice

Your kids are too young to appreciate it

your kids are too old to leave their friends

it’s too dangerous for your kids to travel

your oldest daughter should be traveling alone

this kind of travel could cause lasting fear and anxiety

you are causing instability in your kids’ lives from which they may never recover

I tried volunteering and it was terribly unsatisfying; you can’t really help.

the language barrier will stop you, they won’t use your skills.

my friend went as a doctor and no one used his medical skills

a doctor friend of mine found there were not enough resources – electricity and supplies – for him to really help people

Glass Half Full? – or – No Glass in Our PB&J!

I listen politely, thank them for their advice and then I keep planning.  I tell myself, “If travel didn’t have some challenges, then it wouldn’t be as rewarding. Plus, my kids are going to eat rice and beans or whatever might be available locally, because I am not taking them to Brazil or India so they can eat PB&J sandwiches for goodness sake, let alone ones with glass shards in them!”  I don’t think we are ever going to be more than a donkey, bus and plane ride from decent medical care in case one of them appears to be just days away from death’s door.  Not to make light of what could have been a tragic situation – but I think the trip requires a pretty light attitude toward risk, discomfort, and adversity, for it to be the fun and rewarding experience it is meant to be.

Mishaps during your travels?  Tell us how to avoid it.

Better yet – we would love to hear one of your favorite travel stories!

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Posted on: February 13, 2010 | Categories: Pre-Departure Thoughts

 


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