Long term travel with kids - aka - Should I travel with my kids?

YES!

Take a few months, a few kids, a few countries, a few plane / train / bus tickets and get the show on the road!

 I can only recommend it – absolutely recommend it. It will give your kids a broader perspective on life, and the chance to try all sorts of new things from strange foods to learning a language to some weird and wonderful history. It will give you all a chance to do those things and more. You are likely to all come out of it with a lot of new ideas and the ability to think about life back home differently – all while you learn, have fun, and even relax!

Again I am speaking from practical experience as not only have I have moved countries with my kids many times, but I have travelled with them as babies, toddlers, kids and teens for months at a time through Central America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa!

My key tip to making it work is simple: Think about what kids (notably yours) want to do and plan accordingly.

For example, not many kids want to be dragged around a whole lot of museums and art galleries in Europe! At the same time, they also don’t usually want to be on the road every day. Simply put – make sure there is plenty of time for play or activities they enjoy as you go – water generally works well with all ages – beaches, rivers, lakes and so on.

Drawing time in Guatemalan cafe 1993

Drawing time in Guatemalan cafe 1993

To give you a few practical examples; In Central America I backpacked with my eldest as a toddler – she had a ball chasing huge butterflies in the jungle and riding local buses with all the chickens amongst the people – I took it at her pace and let her play in the water and with animals and other kids she found on the way – we didn’t move every day or even every week, and we played wherever possible.

In South Africa I went up-market and spent a couple of months with a hired camper – the first time I had done this! The kids (2 and 4) loved it. There were plenty of places to swim, plenty of animals to see and monkeys to chase, we picked up a few pens and books to keep them occupied when I drove and wherever we stopped to camp, they occupied themselves with whatever was at hand – trees, sticks, stones and water usually.

2 youngest watching elephants in South Africa 2001

2 youngest watching elephants in South Africa 2001

Same two in Amsterdam 2007

Same two in Amsterdam 2007

And in Nicaragua 2010

And in Nicaragua 2010

 

Equally, I had a great time with the younger two (around 7 - 9) when we got to the Netherlands as it was cheap to hire bikes and we could bike everywhere – including all through Amsterdam. The one that hated art galleries (one actually did love them) was quite happy to take it in small doses as she got to bike around in-between and eat fabulous food in the cafes en-route! (Check out other posts I have for travelling with kids.)

A few questions and answers to help you

Friends on the road 1995

Friends on the road 1995

What about friends and family? – Skype – but I doubt they will too much of it. If they are teens they will be connected – don’t worry! If they are younger, they will make friends on the road given the chance.

What about nasty diseases? – choose your destination if you are worried, have good travel insurance and vaccinate where relevant.

What about school? – They are going to learn a lot more on the road than in school – about life, people, plants, animals, history, languages, communication, how to deal with unexpected situations and so on. Read my Schools Out post.

What if Im a single parent? Yes its a lot easier with two, but it is not a show-stopper  – just think through where you are going and how it will work for them and for you.

Panama 2011

Panama 2011

Finally as said, if you are not sure, then this is a great site for you. Contact me if you have a few questions and want help – it can often be as simple as a half hour skype session to work through any questions or issues!