Overcoming 7 Major Obstacles To Traveling The World – #5 You Have Kids Or Will Soon

August 13, 2009 by Anil Polat  

A number of you are planning to travel the world one day, which won’t happen unless you can overcome these 7 obstacles. Here are Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 of this series.

Overcoming the obstacles to traveling the world begin with shedding your past, dealing with the present, and then preparing for the future. Hopefully by now you see yourself traveling the world in this future. Leaving your day job, saving up enough money, and planning out a trip can be quite liberating and open up your mind to new possibilities as well as give you a lot of time to worry about may come – like children.

kid looking up

This new future you see yourself in will be unfamiliar and unpredictable. Whether or not you have young children, want them, or don’t – the fear that you may be jeopardizing your future can set in. Children often represent what’s to come but share a lot in common with the traveler psyche that can ultimately inspire your desire to travel on new levels.

There Is No Blueprint

There is no magic time to travel the world or deadline set in cosmic stone that you are racing against. The future is unpredictable regardless if you never travel the world or not. Thoughts of future children or “waiting” until your young kids grow up is a way to externalize your fear. All travelers are not 20-somethings backpacking on their own.

There are plenty of family travel blogs out that will prove this point – below are just a few. (Feel free to add to this list in the comments below.)

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There are also plenty of helpful moms and dads out there to help answer your questions, like tips for a first time flight with an infant.

Children Are Natural Travelers

Almost everything is an adventure for a child. Their sense of wonder and curiosity motivate them to explore the world around them – much like adults who want to travel around the globe.

When we think of traveling with children we often see images of babies crying on airplanes and toddlers pouting. It’s true that children get bored easily during the actual act of traveling, but so do we; except that we can occupy ourselves with iPods, movies, books, alcohol, etc. to keep occupied. Put that image aside and realize that traveling the world doesn’t mean constant motion.

Having children with you doesn’t make traveling impossible, it just presents a few additional challenges at times. There is far more time for everything else.

Is It Them Or You?

young photographerWe worry about children because we ascribe adult characteristics and our own fears on them (or our future visions of children to come). Adults often think children will have a hard time coping with change, learning new languages, and making friends without the benefit of staying in the same place for years.

In general children are much more adaptable than adults and have an easier time acquiring multiple languages (in fact one of the best ways to learn a new language is to think like a child). Also, making friends will be easier for both you and any kids than you think.

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New Perspectives

Children can add an entirely new perspective to anywhere in the world you visit. One of the most creative ways I’ve seen this demonstrated is when Jen from My Folie a Deux handed her camera to her daughter to show us how we see Marrakesh. Traveling with children can open your eyes to many things you may not have noticed before or add an extra dimension to your travels somewhere along the way.

Keep It Real

Worrying about intangible things, like the kids you will have, or saying you can’t do something because of the kids you do have can rehash all of the fears you have already over come – like leaving your routines, money, and uncertainty. Don’t turn a dream into a nightmare. Break down your life (if you have kids already) or the anxieties you have about the future so you can tackle them like any other issue you have faced.

Ask yourself, what do you want to tell your children you accomplished and regretted in life and what are the reasons you want to travel the world?

If the answers to those questions are good enough for you, why not your children?

Since I don’t have children myself I’ll let all of the traveling parents speak for themselves and invite you to share your experiences.

You’re now getting close – there are two final obstacles to overcome. Next week you’ll be dealing with the present, putting some things in the past, and jumping into the future.

[photos by: oenvoyage, muha…]

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  1. Victoria says:

    Hi, it’s an interesting post. I did a RTW trip lots of years ago as a 19 year old, and rarely came across people with kids. I did come across some people in their mid twenties who were very patronising though and told me that I was too young to appreciate what I was doing! Now we’ve got children and are planning a RTW trip, leaving next year. Some people have suggested we wait until the children have left home, but as they are only 7, 4 and 3 we would have years to wait. I believe that you never know what is around the corner, so you should take your opportunities when they come. So travelling with children it is!

    • Anil P. says:

      There really are so many people out there traveling with children. I think it’s definitely a trend that will be increasing in the years to come – like your upcoming trip!

      I think traveling with children is like almost anything else you have to deal with on the road, whether you’re single, a family, etc. Whatever it is you just adapt and go with it.

      …and I agree life is short and unpredictable so why wait?

  2. Thanks for a terrific article, Anil, with lots of good suggestions in the comments, too.

    I couldn’t agree more – Just Do It (but at a slower pace and with fewer lofty expectations.)

    And remember to eat….I never remember to eat and then wonder why all of us, kids included, are psychotic at 2 pm because no one’s had lunch. 🙂

  3. Sarah says:

    Thanks for this post, the thought of doing a long journey with kids terrifies me but like the others have said life is too short and Im sure I would survive. Hopefully anyway! 🙂

  4. We have always traveled with our two daughters, now 7 and 11 years old. Yes, traveling with kids is different than not, and you make accommodations for them, but it’s worth it all to see their curiosity and fresh perspective on the world and life.

    Our family is recently back in the States from a year living abroad in Spain. Read about our travel and travails at http://www.travelandtravails.com.

    Thanks for your great series and encouragement to get out and discover the world.


    • Anil P. says:

      The comment I hear the most is “you can do it because you don’t have kids” or “you won’t be able to travel once you have kids.” The words ‘can’t’ and ‘won’t’ really evoke my stubborn streak 🙂 There are plenty of traveling families, I’ll chock you up as another great example.

  5. Good post! We traveled with all our kids and we leaned a lot of things through their eyes.

  6. Hello!

    http://travelexperta.com 🙂

    Trust, me I know about the obstacle about traveling with a kid! Although, I have to say it has really enriched our traveling. For instance when you travel a lot, you start to overlook little things, even something as interesting as flowers on the street!

    Plus, with kids you really have to slow down, and you end up having to have more of a hotel experience becasue they only handle so many hours out. These days, we are always looking for a hotel with a pool and lovely grounds, because this will make my son happy!

    • Anil P. says:

      Hi Marina! Slowing down travels can change the entire experience of seeing the world, in a good way. It’s good to hear such positive comments about traveling with children, especially for those of us who don’t have kids yet!

  7. Another great post for this wonderful series. Thanks for the shout out as well.

    Even though you don’t have children, but I think you have hit the nail here perfectly on excuse people use for not traveling with children.

    I think having children should even be more of a reason for us to travel. They will learn so much on each trip. I still amaze at the knowledge they learn from our trips.

    Can’t wait to see the next 2 obstacles in this series. 🙂

    • Anil P. says:

      Thanks Amy, I can’t imagine my own life any other way – without having traveled as much as I did and being encouraged by my mother to do it.

  8. Fran says:

    Hey Anil, congrats on another great and insightful post. Part of it is definitely a mindset.

    I put off travelling for a long time, first of all because I didn’t think I could do it as a single mother, then I thought I should wait until my daughter was older and then there were to ‘do-gooders’ who told me I should think of my daughter and not travel until she’d left home, it was two ‘older’ people on a RTW who told me that last nugget!

    After 14 months on the road we are still loving every day, Katie, my daughter, is having a fresh learning experience every day, which can only be a positive thing, and I am loving travelling with a child because I see things through her perspective which is always fresh so I don’t become jaded like some other long term travellers. Children are very adaptable and thrive on the constant stimulation and excitement that travelling provides, although some of the things that she has clung to and found it hard to let go of have surprised me along the way, when she said what she would miss about Thailand the most was the pizza place we would eat at!

    Children aren’t a barrier to travel; they’re an enhancement!


    • Anil P. says:

      Hi Fran, funny you should mention that – a lot of the people I’ve run across who worry or put doubts into your head about traveling long-term are actually traveling (or have) long-term themselves!

  9. Great article! We love traveling with our two kids. It is so cool to see their eyes light up and I am seeing things that I might not have stopped to check out like train museums or awesome parks. http://www.twokidsandamap.com

    • Anil P. says:

      Jen, appreciate you putting your link in the mix. Children definitely have a different perspective that can make revisiting the same place you’ve been many times a new experience when you have kids.

      I’m looking forward to reading through your site a bit more, thanks again.

  10. kevin says:

    cool post ive no experience in this field but i have read alot of posts form http://www.nunomad.com/ and they travel with their kids so hopefully they can help too