It´s an easy trap for new parents to fall into, to think, “we will keep living our life the same way, having a kid isn´t going to slow us down.” It´s honestly a silly notion to think that having a kid isn´t going to change you or the way you live. It´s in our psychology after all, neuroscientists have shown that the adults brain, both male and female, is extremely plastic right after having a child (see: Ina Mays Guide to Childbirth ). So if you are a new or pending parent try to avoid the idea that life will remain the same, it will save you a significant headache. Instead, take the opportunity to embrace change and look forward to new beginnings. Perhaps learn a new language or embrace a new diet, take the opportunity of never sleeping to start reading again. Or, if you are really motivated, completely hijack your life by quitting your job and move your family to a foreign country, somewhere obscure, like a mountain village in South America that nobody has ever heard of. Ok so not your everyday parenting advice right, but why not? Here´s 5 reasons why most people avoid traveling with a kid and five answers to how to make it work:
There are plenty of destinations in the world that have the same health hazards as the US and many developing countries have good health care available for emergency situations. Plenty of countries in Southeast Asia and South America don´t require extra vaccinations and some only do if you visit select areas. Many times if you just avoid the deep jungle there isn´t any risk of contracting a horrible disease. When traveling with your child most of your child’s time is going to be spent directly with you and as a result will have much less of a chance of catching some undesirable bug. 2. It´s Expensive:
I think this is one of the biggest myths about having kids. Babies and infants are not expensive, teenagers are expensive. So if you want travel do it while your kids still travel for free. It´s not impossible to be a budget traveler with kids. Now days there are plenty of options to find a work stay or volunteer opportunity that covers your living expenses (yes even with a kid) while still affording plenty of time to explore. If you get creative you can travel for less cash than an average monthly living expense in the States. Rent out your house on Air B&B, put your car insurance on storage, cancel your cell phone bill and get out of the country! 3. It´s Dangerous:
Yes, actually, it is dangerous. In the words of the great J.R.R. Tolkien “It´s dangerous business, Frodo, stepping out your door.” There will be risks that you have to decide if you are willing to take. How different is this than everyday life? That all depends on the choices you make at home and the choices you make when traveling, but living in a foreign country does not mean living a more dangerous life. 4. It’s too hard:
I am not going to say that traveling with a toddler is easy, but I’m also not going to say that living with a toddler is easy. If you have a toddler then your life is probably more difficult than it has ever been otherwise. Hopefully, the rewards of seeing your child grow and learn energize you enough to balance out the struggle. The same applies for traveling. You will probably have to change the way you travel to accommodate having a toddler. You´re not going to take overnight buses and crash in two dollar hostel rooms like you did with your college buddies. With a child it´s best to pursue quality over quantity and stay in one place longer. But, on the plus side, having a baby in tow tends to break down cultural barriers, allowing you to experience a foreign culture in a much deeper way then was possible before. 5. It´s Irresponsible:
It doesn’t have to be irresponsible. Having a kid often creates a time of transition for a family, if this is the case use the opportunity to take some time off and travel. Take a sabbatical, or extended vacation. Plan it out ahead of time. Put off buying a new car or house for another year and instead invest in traveling. Nothing is more valuable to a family then building strong relationships together, traveling isn’t the only way to do this but it certainly is a good way and worth while the investment if you are willing. Not to mention that it is responsible to expose your child to new cultures, the more of us that are raised with a healthy worldview and understanding the better chance we have at living in a country that upholds social justice and thinks beyond the confines of their own small community Lastly, it isn´t as rare as you may think to travel or backpack with kids. If you are still unsure, start talking about it to your community, you may be surprised at how much support you will find. As someone who was exposed to traveling overseas at a very young age and has now taken his own family on an international adventure, I strongly encourage any young family thinking about traveling out of their home country to pursue their dreams. It won´t be the same with kids and they will probably slow you down, but whoever said that was a bad thing?