When I tell people we travel the world with our kids they usually react in one of two ways.
“Wow that’s amazing, they’re so lucky! I wish I could do that!”
“What about school? Don’t they miss their friends? They’ll never get a job. You’re going to ruin their lives!”
Basically it’s like marmite. They love the idea or they hate it.
That’s ok. I don’t need their approval.
But in some ways they are right.
Here’s the top 10 ways travelling has ruined my kids lives.
1: They Always Miss Their Friends.
Because they have friends all over the world, it’s impossible to be with all of them all of the time. My kids have had to get over the usual shyness that most kids have. They’ve learned not to judge and to be inclusive, making friends with people of all ages and all backgrounds in over 18 countries so far. Some they stay in touch with, others they leave behind when we move on. But one thing is for certain, they will always miss their friends because they are lucky enough to have so many all around the world.
2: They Miss Out On Going To School
This is a big one for most people. But what are they really missing out on? They’ll never know the pressure of homework or be put in isolation because they have the wrong hair cut. They don’t have to ask permission to pee and they’ll never know the importance of wearing the “right” trainers. They miss out on all the “crazes” and they have no idea how to “Bottle Flip” or “Floss”- Thank goodness! They won’t spend the most important years of their lives sat at a desk or stressing about exam results. They sleep late, they learn effectively and they study only what inspires them. Poor kids.
3: History Lessons Are Ruined Forever
History A levels or degrees are probably off the table. We’ve studied the Romans in the Colosseum. Learned about the the Balkan war by living on the old front line in Mostar, spotting bullet spray in buildings and speaking to people who lived through it. Pirates were covered in a real Pirate Fort in Omis, Kings and queens were studied in their castles and the French Revolution discussed in France. We plan to learn about Ancient Egypt by visiting the Pyramids next year. I mean, how could a classroom ever compare?
4: They Can’t Join A Football Team
There’s no rugby, football or cricket in our PE curriculum. Instead the poor boys have to put up with hiking in The Austrian Alps, white water rafting, scuba diving, kayaking, surfing and acroyoga on the beach. Devastating as you can imagine.
5: They Don’t Have A “Stable” Home
In fact for the last two years they’ve had no home. They’ve had to adapt and learn that home isn’t a place. Home is where our family is. It’s not the building that makes a place your home, but the people around you who love you, support you and make you smile every day. Every house is different and sometimes that’s good and sometimes it’s not. Sometimes we have a pool, sometimes we have house centipedes. You know, swings and roundabouts!
6: Travelling Is Scary & Sometimes They Are In Danger
We always try to keep everyone safe but sometimes stuff goes wrong. We’ve been harassed by a drunken tramp at the train station in Montenegro, homeless in Lisbon after our Airbnb fell through and lost up a mountain, walking along a sheer ledge whilst losing light fast in Tenerife. Travelling makes life unpredictable and that brings risk. But if I’m honest, this is why we travel. They learn that taking risks is ok and how to assess which risks to take. They learn to handle disasters. They learn how to stay calm under pressure and how to deal with volatile situations. These lessons are priceless and will serve them for the rest of their lives.
7: They Don’t Get To Game Much
Ok so this one they would say actually is a problem, but I disagree. They have an Xbox in England but it stays there even when we travel by car. They have a laptop and an ipad but they often don’t have time to use it much. Thats’ why they like flying so much – unlimited gaming time! They game online with their friends some evenings but it’s really not as much as they’d like. Instead they have to actually live life. Shame.
8: They Only Have One Pair Of Shoes & They Are – dun dun DUN! – “Practical”
So we travel hand luggage only. It’s really the best way. No way I’m packing and unpacking more than a few rucksacks. But this does mean that their wardrobe is limited. Two pairs of shorts, two hoodies and a few t-shirts is all they need. Add in a wetsuit and a pair of sensible, waterproof hiking trainers and you’re sorted! No flashy, branded clothing or overpriced trainers. But you know what? They’re actually really happy with this. No pressure to wear something “cool” and hardly any clothes to put away when we wash them!
9: They’ll Never Be Content With The Routine Of A “Normal” Life.
“How will they settle down into a normal 9 till 5 if they’ve been “spoilt” by travelling as kids?” They won’t. Thank goodness! It always surprises me when people say this as if it’s a bad thing. I’m not raising my kids to live a normal life. I’m raising them to live an extraordinary life. One that brings them joy, breaks the mould, pushes their boundaries and gives them the freedom to choose how they spend the precious days we have here on the planet.
10: They Are Constantly Uncomfortable
Every day poses a new challenge. They have to speak languages they don’t understand, eat foods they don’t like the look of, approach strangers to make them into friends and even jump off 9 metre high rocks into a ravine (yep, they did that and yep I screamed inside my head!). It’s scary, uncomfortable and hard. But that’s what makes it great. I’m a firm believer that all the best things are outside of your comfort zone. If you want to be successful in life you’ve got to be comfortable doing things that make you uncomfortable. There’s no better way to practice this than travel.
So as you can see, it’s true. My kids lives are very much ruined by travel, but I think they are ruined in the very best way. What do you think?