First thing’s first, there are definitely WAY more than five things that scare me about selling everything and taking our two children travelling. I mean, there are about 50 things a day I worry about when I’m parenting from the comfort and security of our toy-filled, warm, familiar home in the UK. So the fear level is understandably going to shoot up a bit, mainly because we’ve never done anything like this before so it’s all unknown. But a bit of fear is healthy, right?
So what are the things I’m most scared about when it comes to full time travel with two young children?
1. Toddler On A Plane
This is a bit like the film Snakes On A Plane, except snakes are probably a little more containable, a little less wriggly and a bit more predictable than a 22 month old with legs that want to walk and a mind that can’t yet be effectively reasoned with (or bribed).
Our 3 year old will be fine, I’m sure of it. She loves snacks, can sit through a whole film, play a game and when tired, will lie down and go to sleep almost anywhere (for more on sleep please read on). She also responds really well to other people telling her she must do something so if all else fails I can just ask the cabin crew to give her their most authoritative stare.
Her little brother? Not so much. He only learned to use his little legs about 7 months ago so the mere suggestion that he may want to sit still for longer than 5 minutes is generally not well met. He responds well to snacks, but generally wants to walk around when eating them, so that won’t help. Oh and his sister has taught him this high-pitched angry shriek that I’d like to say can only be heard by the sensitive ears of dogs, but sadly it’s audible to the general human public too.
The big one. Every parent knows that parenting and life in general is 543848548345 times easier if everyone is SLEEPING well. Every parent knows how rare it can be for every little piece of the sleep puzzle to be in place for every member of the family.
Generally speaking, someone is usually ill, or teething, or having a nightmare, or scared of fox sex outside (who ISN’T scared of that horrific sound?), or needs a drink, or a wee, or a multitude of other sleep-depriving issues. That’s just at home. So what happens when you throw in warmer temperatures, biting insects, unfamiliar beds and sounds and overtired travellers? Time will tell, but this is the biggest thing I’m feeling uneasy about. Anyone have any travel/sleep tips?
Take two hungry but averagely-fussy toddlers and the need for nutritious vegan food on the road and I’m absolutely sure we’ll run into some food-related meltdowns. I’m trying to prepare for this by putting together a list of recipes using ingredients I think we can get everywhere.
Also, by staying in self-catering properties at least we don’t have the pressure (financial or otherwise) of finding restaurants with vegan options. We’ll always have access to fresh fruit and veg, and we’re also considering following in the footsteps of fellow vegan family travellers Our Venture Beyond and lugging our Nutribullet around the world for daily smoothies. I think I’ve actually talked myself out of being worried about this one. Well done me!
4. Lack Of Adult Time
Let’s face it, having children tends to be pretty all-consuming. Paul and I often find ourselves going months without going out, just the two of us. At home, we don’t have any family or close friends particularly nearby so time out has to be well-planned. But it’s not impossible, and we can at least go out with friends separately to get the headspace we need. It’s a bit daunting thinking that when we’re away, it’s just going to be the four of us, with even more limited options for getting away for a bit.
We met the lovely Lynsey of Four Go Exploring last week. They’ve just come back from 9 months of world travel with their two boys. She told us that one of the biggest challenges were the sheer intensity of being together ALL THE TIME. They booked a cruise with a kids’ club so they could regain some all-important adult time. I definitely think we’ll benefit from something similar. We’re also planning on staying with friends in a few places, and hoping that family will join us in others. So we’ll definitely be on the lookout for any opportunities to decompress and just spend some time as a couple.
5. Are We Doing The Right Thing?
This is basically a whole ball of different worries and uncertainties all bundled together. Are we doing the right thing for our children by taking them out of the only home they’ve ever known? Will they cope with messed up routines and a series of exhausting journeys? How do we protect them from any dangers in unfamiliar countries? What if they get sick? Will they get homesick? Will WE get homesick? Can you get homesick if you have no home? Will they have enough contact with other children? How will they resettle into “normal” life when we come home?
So there you have it. It’s the most exciting thing we’re ever going to do. But that doesn’t stop me waking up at 4am silently screaming “WHAT THE HELL ARE WE DOING?”. But I did the same both times I was pregnant and I don’t regret having children.
So it’ll be OK, won’t it?
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