All my life, I’ve always known that I wanted to travel as much as possible. My family didn’t have much money when I was growing up, and so our “vacations” were more like day trips, driving down to the Florida Keys to have an oceanfront barbecue and then driving back home. I seriously longed for a trip anyplace out of town. My first trip to Disney didn't happen until I turned 10, while all my friends had already gone multiple times (we lived just four hours away). And I didn’t board my first plane until I bought my own ticket at the age of 18, to New York City.
When I found out I would be a mom, I wasn’t sure how to feel about my future in regards to travel. Part of me feared that having kids would leave me grounded, clip my proverbial wings, so to speak. I’d spent months on the road just the year before my first pregnancy, and I’d grown addicted to a life of unpredictability and adventure. But I later realized that having kids doesn’t have to mean never traveling again. In fact, it’s almost better because once you have a kid, you have this awesome new travel companion who will delight at seeing new cities and towns, taking in the sea breeze or the immensity of mountains for the first time. For all the ways having kids makes travel harder, it makes it considerably fuller and richer.
When I mention my plans for potentially taking my kid around the world, though, some folks shake their head disapprovingly. Once in a while? Sure. But constant travel? That’s something many people simply don’t understand. It’s not like I’m pregnant; I’m not scared of the Zika virus. Plus, these days it’s so much easier to travel with kids, why wouldn’t you want to? This one’s for the naysayers who just don’t get that traveling with kids can truly be the best thing ever:
“They Won’t Have Any Stability”
Because apparently stability means only ever staying in one place? No, I don’t think so. You can totally have a routine with yourself or your family even while on the road. Plenty of people travel and still keep a fairly consistent sense of normalcy. It’s more about how you organize yourself. You can also never travel and still be incredibly unstable. There's really nothing that says staying in one place will create a stable environment for your kids, and likewise, there's nothing that says being perennial jetsetters will starve them of that stability.
“Aren’t You Afraid They’ll Always Be Sick?”
No, because kids are always getting sick. If I’m going somewhere far away, of course I’ll take the proper precautions, give them (and myself) whatever vaccinations are necessary, and be on my way. If anything, travel might even build my kid's immune system.
“What If You End Up In ~The Wrong Neighborhood~?”
This is such an obnoxious thing to say because “wrong neighborhood” can mean anything, but almost always means some uptight person being terrified of crossing over into a less-than-middle-class area. These are the same folks who are scared of the “wrong neighborhood” in their own towns. No, that does not matter to me, move it along.
“Won’t You Be Sad To Be Away From Family And Friends?”
If and when I finally manage my first round-the-world adventure, I will be sure to send my friends and family postcards from far off places, Skype with and text them, and use social media to otherwise stay in touch. I’ll also make new friends. It’s so much easier to keep in contact these days. I'm not that worried about it.
“That’s A Bit Selfish Of You”
Oh yeah, wanting to expose my son to new places, different people, a variety of foods and geography and culture is so, so selfish. Spare me.
“Have You Thought This Through?”
Have you thought thought the idea of spending your entire life in the same place you grew up in and never moving further than a 10-mile radius? Oh, does that question sound implicitly judgmental and condescending? Maybe I should just not ask it and trust that you are a grown-ass enough person to be thoughtful about the life choices you make for yourself and your family? OK, cool. You're right. My bad.
“How Will They Learn Anything If They Aren’t In School?”
School is certainly not the only place where one can learn things. In fact, I’d have to say that a large portion of what I’ve learned in life was outside the classroom, in books and museums and among other people telling stories, and via experiences. You know, like the kind you get from traveling.
“You’re Teaching Them To Be Irresponsible”
Being irresponsible is leaving a roast in the oven and going away for a week and pretending your house isn’t going to burn down. Planning travel is anything but irresponsible. I'd say it actually teaches kids to plan and organize and save money and invest in long-term goals and be resourceful and...
“Can’t You Just Plan Watch Movies/Read Books About Places You Want To Visit Instead?”
Yeah, sure, movies and books are great, but they’re no substitute for the real thing.
“I’m So Jealous!”
So do it, too! I know this is the number one complaint most friends of mine have when people ask them about how they’re possibly traveling with kids. I know it’s not easy when you have kids, but maybe start setting aside a little cash whenever you get paid. Hide it. Stash it like a squirrel. Eventually, you’ll start having enough that you can go someplace, too. Maybe it won’t be a cross-country excursion, but travel can happen in smaller, more attainable ways too.
“What If They Get Lost?”
Well, ideally, my son and I will both get lost somewhere, or in many places, and find our way back. There’s something wonderful about allowing yourself to do this once in awhile. I hope I can inspire that in my son someday as well.