If I would have to answer someone´s question about why we are travelling as a family in one sentence I would say that we do it “because we would otherwise run mad!” But if I try to explain it further, the story goes something like this:
I´ve been travelling ever since I can remember it. My parents used to take me and my brother with on their travels and so we got the opportunity to explore different parts of the world at young age and see the good and the bad sides of it – very grateful for that! I strongly believe that all those experiences have had much influence on our way of thinking and made a huge impact on the development of our personalities. I´ve been travelling ever since – sometimes far away, sometimes just “around the corner”. And when I´m not travelling I´m at least thinking of it and planning our next trip or thinking about how we could spend the next weekend, just so that we would not sit at home. Every adventure (short or long) fills me up with energy and I feel more alive when I´m out there somewhere, doing something I´ve not done before! Okay I admit, sometimes it also feels good to just relax at home – but not for too long! 😉
Remembering my pregnant days, I must admit at the beginning of it there were moments where I said to myself “So, that´s it, no more fun, you won´t be able to travel anymore, to party, to ski, to hike the mountains, you won´t sleep, you won´t be even able to go to the toilet in peace – what the heck am I letting myself into!”
I had no clue about all that baby stuff that one should buy once becoming parents (or even better, should already buy 9 months before becoming parents). Every time I searched information online about this topic (in Slovene language which is my mother tongue) I came across hundreds of lists of things I had no clue what they even were. Well, after 4 years of motherhood I know most of those products now. I can also say that having a little creature following you around everywhere you go is not that bad at all – it´s actually great fun most of the time! Still, those lists were driving me crazy back then. That´s why I decided to close the pages soon after I opened them – instead I asked uncle Google “where to travel to with a baby/children”. In Slovene language, there were barely any hits on this topic online (5 years ago), so I tried on English. And, I found something. Top destinations were Florida, Paris, London, Cancun, Venice and similar. I thought to myself, this can´t be true! Not that I have something against all those places, but I would prefer something more adventurous. Hm. Well, I did check the map of Florida a few times and imagined how I would push the buggy down the beach or through Disneyland.
The first year after Lu was born was very busy over here, because we were moving for the second time, renovating and sorting out our documents ad so on. Just the usual when you move to another country and in case this is Germany then you know – the paper and a stamp will rule your world for the first couple of months! When we were finally settled and “done” (I think you are never really done with renovating ha ha) with most of what was on our list our feet began to itch again. Sure Lu was already “sitting” on a plane at 2 months of age and went through many looong car drives in direction South Europe, but our feet were still itching for something more out of the ordinary. All my research on Florida was quickly forgotten and we found ourselves buying plane tickets, to Oman! We actually did not know anybody who was there before and I think that´s what made it even more interesting for us.
We tested how it is to travel with small kids (Lu was 1) to another part of the world and we can really say that we don´t have any bad experiences. We felt more welcomed than in many parts of Europe and we´ve realised that travelling with kids is really no big deal – it takes you to a whole new level of travelling where you experience things you would most certainly not if travelling alone. Suddenly, we were the attraction and many locals wanted to chat with us and help us with their tips on where to go. Just after a few days on the road, we came to an important conclusion and said: “yup, that´s it. We´re gonna keep on doing this!”
I often read/hear remarks saying it´s outrageous how us parents are so selfish to take the poor kids with us on this crazy long travel trips, where they only suffer and besides, they won´t remember anything anyway. And I´m thinking, well – maybe it´s the other way around? Maybe we take them with because we are NOT selfish enough to leave them at grandparents while we go enjoy ourselves on our own. Would for sure made it easier and cheaper to travel without the kids. We take Lu with because we are a family and family does stuff together. We can also be honest and say – yes, travelling with our little ones can be challenging and it´s sometimes not easy, but guess what – having kids in the first place is also not easy and it most certainly is very challenging! And yes, kids sometimes cry and are cranky on travels, but hey, do you think they just smile at home? No.
So, we chose to travel together! We do get away occasionally for a longer weekend a year just the two of us, because we think it´s also important to spend some time without the kids, but otherwise always together. The time when you are together as a family 24/7 is priceless! At home it´s so easy to get caught up in the usual “kindergarten/school-work-afternoon activities-sleep and repeat” routine. When travelling you can really forget about your troubles at home, relax and enjoy – and believe it or not, kids also need holidays, where they don´t have to get up at 6:30 every morning! On their travels, kids are very keen on getting to know other cultures, eating something they´ve never eaten before, smelling new spices, seeing exotic animals in their natural environment instead in a Zoo, playing with totally different things than at home and find creative ways to spend their free time without computer and TV! All in all, kids are very uncomplicated – you need to keep them fed and give them enough time to rest. Us grown-ups are sometimes really stressing us out for no reason, and the kids simply don´t care if the planes takes of with a 30 minutes delay, if there´s no AC in your hotel room or if the water in the pool is too cold. Based on our experiences they get really in bad mood when they are sleepy or hungry, but otherwise they behave even better than at home!
We were travelling around SE Asia with a friend in 2007 and one evening we met a Slovenian couple with a 7-month year old baby in northern Laos – I admit, the first thought that crossed my mind was: “they must be crazy, what the heck were they thinking bringing such a small baby to Laos and then walking around this night market as if it was the most normal thing in the world to do so!?” Well, I understand them now. I´m just trying to say that I don´t blame all of you who don´t have kids and can´t understand why we are travelling with ours. Maybe you will also someday get it, like we do now 😉
Kids get a lot out of travels even if they don´t remember it, or they just remember some of it. They will also not remember how we read stories to them, changed their diapers in the night, how we were rocking them to sleep for hours, sang to them or build sand castles on the beach – but we still did all that! Everything they experience and learn during their early years contributes to their development.
Nothing against all of those who spend every single holiday at home or nearby. Maybe they don´t have the desire to see something different, maybe their financial situation makes it hard to go somewhere, maybe they are just not used to travelling – doesn´t matter. Everybody should do what´s best for them. To all of you who would actually like to travel but you think it´s not possible with kids – try it out, it might be a great thing to do! Don´t miss out, you might regret something later – go somewhere you always wanted to go and have a great time with the family! You only live once 😉 And for all who are postponing having kids because you feel like you need to do sooo much more travelling before you start a family – take care that it´s not too late at the end. You can just as well do all that travelling with kids. Having kids is not a disease that puts you to bed for the next 15 years. Having kids doesn´t mean you will be stuck in the living room watching Peppa Pig and Frozen for eternity. It´s all possible, you just have to want to do it!
So, why do we travel with Lu?
because we are not selfish enough to leave him with grandparents while we go travelling on our own
because we are convinced he can only profit from getting in touch with other cultures
because kids are much less complicated than grown-ups
because we think that also he needs time off from his everyday routine
because he really does not care (yet) where we take him, as long as we are together as a family. Happy parents = happy child!
“because we would otherwise run mad!”
p.s. We have not yet been to Florida 😉
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