I read the blog of The Family Without Borders from start to finish, and I have to say it has really intensified my traveling itch. My focus used to be on solo female travel, but now it is obviously on family travel, especially traveling with little kids. This family has two young children, and they travel by car… and by that I mean they live in their car, with their kids, by camping in it! Not only have they inspired me with ideas and ways to be a budget family traveler, they also give me confidence that a lot of traveling can be good for a kid, even an infant or toddler.
Excerpt from “Have a kid, who travelled“, blog post by Anna of The Family Without Borders, June 1, 2014:
Have a kid who travelled. Your kid will be flexible, adaptable and easy-going. Will fall asleep easily while waiting for the plane, in a loud hostel or on a crowded ferry boat. Will feel safe and always at home, wherever the life will take him/her. Will be used to eating and enjoying foods like: raw fish, the cheapest rice or melted chocolate. Will not be afraid of getting wet in the rain and sweaty during sun. This child will know that the rain is just a rain, which can dry fast and the dirt is just a dirt, which can be washed away.
The blog post goes on to describe how her daughters, now 3 and 4 years old I think, have learned to be more curious, less dependent on “stuff” for entertainment, value their relationships with others more, have a knowledge and appreciation of languages, know what it means to be hospitable and a good host themselves…
Not everyone has children who can tolerate long periods (or even short periods) of breaks from their routine or being strapped into a car seat (or train or plane). I think that living in a very rural area has shaped my daughter into a traveler from the start. She does 1 hour car rides like most kids do 10 minutes. Most of my days off she spends a minimum of 1 hour in the car, going at least to the grocery store and back. Many days she spends over 3 hours in the car total, as the nearest town that is at all interesting (children’s museums, pool, my sister’s, my best friend’s, cafes and shops, metroparks, petting zoos, etc) is one hour’s drive. This summer she handled a five hour one way trip (no long breaks) to Chicago, and six plus hour trip (with longer stops) to the western Lower Peninsula and Lake Michigan. She was relatively ok on a 3 hour plane ride to Dallas… only brief tantrums, lots of restlessness, but fell asleep eventually.
At least one day of the week, if not two or even three, we spend the day away from home. She naps in the car, she enjoys being wherever we go, and she eats just fine (or just as not fine) as she does at home. On vacations, she sleeps just as long and as deeply (actually, better!) in hotel rooms, or other people’s houses. All she needs is a bottle before sleep, and her mama! I’m so excited to have a kid who is just like me… can’t stand to stay home all day, wants to get out and see the world, wants to keep seeing it from sun up to sun down, and can feel at home and happy wherever we go! (Ok, not so happy stuck in the plane. She just hates to be enclosed… same with boats!)
As I plot upcoming trips, I have to take into account not only the impulsiveness and impatience of a young child, but also the money factor. Staying in hotels, even cheap ones, each night just isn’t an option right now. I have to either camp, couch surf, or stay with people. The only tolerable way to travel by plane is if she has her own seat, and that’s double the price I once paid to go anywhere! So… we drive. We go places where we can house sit, couch surf, or camp. We camp out of our car (as safely as possible)! We prepare our own food 66% (2/3rds) of the time on the road. We save our money for gas, for trip insurance, for activities and attractions.
Check out my latest travel blog entry: Travel With Toddler, By Car and stay tuned for blog posts about our upcoming overnight car trip to St. Louis! And then get ready for my big reveal of our next big adventure…