How do we manage with young kids?

Traveling around the world is great but its even better if you can bring your kids along. A lot of people, like Mona who just sent me an email, see it as too much of a challenge to travel with young kids. Now granted our kids are no longer young. Our youngest is 11 but we think our kids are fantastic and we think that growing up on the road has helped them become the unique, creative, flexible young adults they have become. Don’t wait til they get older. Celebrate life and travel with them from when they are young.

This is what I think.

The longer you wait the more they will miss their old friends because the friends at “home” are the only ones they know and because they may have even forgotten how to make new friends. They will expect everyone to speak English and it will be more difficult to cross those language and cultural boundaries.

Our kids have friends all over the world. Their dialogue frequently becomes a mixture of English and Portuguese, Czech, German, Chinese, Maori and whatever else their friends speak.

Why? Because they think it is normal. Because they have grown up on the road.


The longer you wait the more they will not want to try new foods. Many kids don’t like red peppers. My kids all love them because european kids love them.

Our kids don’t miss American fast food because they didn’t grow up with it. However, they do miss “Smazeny Syr” from Czech Republic, “Churros and Chocolate” from Spain, “Avocado Smoothies” from Morocco and “Sesame balls with red bean paste” from China.

Why? Because they think it was normal. Because they have grown up on the road.

Here are some practical things that come to mind when thinking about having young kids on the road.

[nzs_heading heading=”3″] Fear [/nzs_heading]

We are taught to fear the unknown. The darkness. That other country. We pass this fear onto our kids.

Fear the right things. Like. Not living your life to the fullest. Having the wrong priorities. Living a selfish life. A life in which we stop learning.

[nzs_heading heading=”3″] Simplicity [/nzs_heading]

If you travel long term you can’t have the stuff that many people consider normal in having kids. You won’t be able to afford or carry around the things that most western people think they need, dare I say, especially us Americans.  Your kids probably won’t have the latest gadgets or be able to follow the latest fads, heck they probably won’t even know what the latest gadgets and fads are.

Our kids love to find treasure in op shops (charity shops). They all sew and cook and repair broken things. They do not spend too much time glued to a screen. Even our older kids that have moved out keep the amount of possessions in check so they don’t get tied down.

Why? Because they think it is normal. Because they have grown up on the road.

This is a good place to say something about money. We make money on the road however we can. Writing, art, picking fruit, teaching, selling and getting gifts from others. We are also continually challenging ourselves with how to live on less.

[nzs_heading heading=”3″] Openness [/nzs_heading]

Teach your kids not to expect your home country. They shouldn’t be taught to think your home country is superior. If you do this they will help you to see more beauty and different ways to live that you might take on as part of your family identity.

When we went to Morocco we learned to barter for almost everything we bought. If the kids wanted something they saw we had them barter for it themselves. Now, for TJ, our youngest, it really wasn’t fair. It really wasn’t much of a barter. She would ask the price. They would tell her the price. With determination on her face she would offer a fraction of the original price. The man would look at her strong little place, laugh a little and give her what she offered. All fine in Morocco. After Morocco we went Gibralter, a little British Outpost on the edge of Spain. We went into M&S, an english department store. TJ saw a cute little butterfly top. She asked what the price was. Put on her serious face and went up to offer half.

Why? Because she thinks it is normal. Because she has grown up on the road.

[nzs_heading heading=”3″] Pace [/nzs_heading]

Kids will change your pace. They will slow you down. See this as the gift it is. If we resist the urge to drag our kids to the next thing and slow down with them we will see a whole new world of beauty.

I have a favourite story I like to tell. I didn’t learn this until I was pregnant with my third child. We were living in Pasadena at the time. I had taken the kids to the library. We read a couple of books and took some more out to read at home. Lizzy was in the pushchair (stroller) and Sam was holding onto the handlebar, walking beside. We were going across the courtyard at a normal pace. Actually, a bit rushed. I was rushing to catch the next bus back to our little motorhome on the other side of town. I felt like I had to catch the next bus. Don’t know why, just did. Sam kept putting on the brakes, saying, “Mummy, mummy stop. Mummy, mummy, look”. Quite upset that he was going to make me miss the bus I stopped quite abruptly, looked him in the eye and quite firmly said, “WHAT?” He said, “Look!” and pointed to the ground. We were walking across a beautiful mosaic in the courtyard and I hadn’t even noticed. Convicted by my son, we stopped and missed that next bus and the one after that as we walked around, looking, feeling and talking about the beauty that surrounded us. It was a very special time that I will always cherish.

[nzs_heading heading=”3″] Listening [/nzs_heading]

This links into the last. Travelling with young children, actually, travelling with anybody, we need to listen. We discuss what everyone needs and take all the needs into account when a decision is made. Our identity of home is our family, not a house, we need to take care to keep it in tact.

Once in Germany we were really exhausted. We had just had one of those bad experiences that exhausted us to the core. We had survived, but were limping a bit and felt a bit disjointed as a family. We sat down the next morning and asked each member what they needed from the day. Keep in mind we don’t have a lot of money so we find value in other experiences. Andrew wanted to smell a good coffee, someone wanted to feel a beautiful book, someone else wanted to smell 3 different types of sausages, Hannah wanted a balloon. We went into a little German village to look for these experiences. We smelled and felt and saw and enjoyed. After a while, Hannah saw a clown on the street making balloon sculptures. He made one for Hannah and we gave him a few coins. Another child came up to us later on and asked where we got the balloon. We told them about the clown. we saw them later but they had no balloon and the boy looked very disappointed. Without hesitation or a word, Hannah reached over and gave the boy her treasure, her balloon.

Why? Because she thinks it is normal. Because they has grown up on the road.

Now, if you do decide to travel with kids, especially young kids, or, God forbid, give birth in a foreign country, like I did, twice, then you will get some opposition. Probably less than you think. I have found that many times, out of love, people tell us what they THINK will make us happy, and keep us safe. What they THINK may be right or it may be wrong. Listen politely, change something if you think it is right, put aside what you don’t want to keep and love them back.

Thanks Mona for a nice email to respond to.


  • Jill on November 23, 2013

    Just lovely. This I aspire too as well.

    • admin on December 3, 2013

      Go for it and you can teach me what you learn.

  • Stephen Ward on October 1, 2013

    That was very refreshing to read, thank you. We are expecting our first and although we think we will be staying in NZ I certainly dont feel tied here. Nice to hear a positive outlook on parenting done different 🙂

  • Jessica Stricker on October 1, 2013

    Very well said and oh how true. It sure was nice to hear your voice in my head while reading this.

    • admin on October 1, 2013

      Jessica, I think I remember having talked about some of these things together. I miss our talks!!! Debbie