Travel the world or have a child, or both?

Old Jun 20th, 2006, 07:46 AM
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Travel the world or have a child, or both?

ok, this is somewhat travel related... I will be 38 on Friday and my DH & I have been discussing whether or not to have a child. Honestly, neither one of us is really ready because we both have a lot going on with our careers, and also because we both love to travel. And of course, my family & my doctor keep reminding me that my 'clock' is ticking louder and I should make this decision soon.

My questions for you fello travelers are:

1. Is it really possible to travel all over the world with a child in tow? Or am I nuts to consider this?

2. At what age does it get easier to travel with a child? Especially flying long distances?

3. And, finally, please be honest, do any of you wished you had traveled more instead of having children?

Thank you in advance for your responses!

Heidi
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Old Jun 20th, 2006, 07:58 AM
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Answering your last question first. No.

And honestly, parenthood changes nearly all aspects of your life and self concept as well. So travel, however loved, is quite down the list of the most rock bottom alterations that will occur.

It's certainly possible to travel with children of all ages. It might be in more structured or different forms.

And all kids are different, IMHO. I've read things here that have really floored me about traveling with this age or that age. My kids were never sleepers, but easy to please with food. So I had entirely different issues re planes etc.
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Old Jun 20th, 2006, 07:59 AM
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I wished I had traveled more *before* I had children, but don't wish that I had traveled instead of having children.

Honestly, it ain't just about travel. Having kids changes pretty much everything about your life and you should like how that life looks. It will influence where you live, how you vacation, how you spend your $$, how you spend your free time, how much free time you have, potentially what jobs you take, etc, etc, etc.

To answer your specific questions:

1. Is it really possible to travel all over the world with a child in tow? Or am I nuts to consider this?

Yes, I suppose it is. Some people do this. It is much harder when they are very little because it requires a lot of equipment, they have needs re: food/water/sleep that must be met, etc. In the end, we haven't found it worth the hassle yet. My kids are 3 1/2 and almost 2.

2. At what age does it get easier to travel with a child? Especially flying long distances?

It is easy very early on (they sleep a lot and aren't mobile and don't need to be entertained), but that's when they require the most "stuff." It then becomes hard when they are mobile (think 12 mos until preschool age) and then, presumably, becomes easier again.

Honestly, a lot of having children is about putting their needs/desires in front of many (but not all) of yours.
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Old Jun 20th, 2006, 08:00 AM
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There was similar thread on the Europe board. Most of the responses were that travelling with children was great and easy.

I don't know if my child is just different than the majority of other posters' children, but my experience travelling with a child has not been as positive. Or maybe it's just because my daughter recently turned two and the memories of travelling with a baby are still very fresh in my mind.

Anyway, I think it depends on you, your husband, and your child. My husband and I like to be very active on vacations and we like to have long dinners together. Travelling with our daughter means that we can't be as active and we can't have those long dinners together.

Travelling with a baby requires a lot of extra stuff and for our baby it meant adhering to a strict schedule with morning and afternoon naps and early bedtime. And our daughter was cranky when she wasn't at home.

It's getting easier for us now. She's more flexible and requires less stuff. We're starting to like to travel with her. But, to be perfectly honest, the first two years of travelling with her were frustrating and not much fun.

And, hey, maybe it's just us and our kid and your's will be perfect.
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Old Jun 20th, 2006, 08:03 AM
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I decided that I did not want to have kids in order to travel the world but ended up with three wonderful stepchildren.

Did I miss having kids of my own?

How would I know what to miss if I didn't have them.
 
Old Jun 20th, 2006, 08:03 AM
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And I just want to echo Lissette and JJ5 about how having a child means that parenthood changes all aspects of your life. It's so true. At least for the first few years, you don't even get to decide how much you sleep or when you sleep or if you sleep.
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Old Jun 20th, 2006, 08:05 AM
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We had a similar situation. I am (nearly) 44, my wife 37. We have a 4 & 1 year old. (She wants one more) It is easier w/one than two, for starters. My daughter has been to Europe 3 times & the Caribbean twice. My son is just starting to get some traveling in. We traveled for the first 9 years of our marriage, sans kids of course. They add a much different perspective to travel & my daughter opens doors wherever we go, which otherwise may have remained closed. You have to do what is best for you, bottom line. Of course you'll miss your child asking you "...when can we go back to Paris & ride the merry-go-rounds Daddy", etc. I have good traveling kids (maybe it is genetic), so I've never really experienced many problems w/the flights & what not, just the expense !
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Old Jun 20th, 2006, 08:06 AM
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First of all question #3 is ridiculous. But as far as travelling with kids, we first took our kids on planes as infants, primarily to visit out of town relatives, usually flying no more than 2-3 hrs.

We first took them to Europe at ages 9 & 11. We can't travel all that much in general, but have taken 3 family vacations to Europe, 3 to Mexico, and misc. other trips in the US and PR. We have enjoyed every minute of each of those trips. It's not exactly the same vacation it may have been if only adults, but a great and memorable vacation none the less.
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Old Jun 20th, 2006, 08:11 AM
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Please don't misunderstand me, Travel Addict, being a parent has been loads of fun. It's just that it's hard to have the other kind of fun at the same time. But I wouldn't change any of it!

If life to you looks good as: living in a fabulous apt, eating at the hottest new restaurants, traveling at the drop of a hat to exotic locales, spending your $$ on the hippest new clothes, owning a trendy sportscar ... parenthood may not be for you.

My life looks like: traded that great apt for a cute house in a nice 'burb with good schools, that job in the city ceded to a job in the 'burbs, ski/Europe vacations morphed into a week in a condo at the beach, the sportscar became a Volvo wagon, my wardrobe became more (but not exclusively!) wash 'n wear, those dinners at the hottest restaurant are few and far between (but we still try to squeeze them in occasionally), etc.

In some ways, I am glad that we didn't have kids until our late 30's (gulp!) because we got to do enough of the other stuff to satisfy ourselves.
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Old Jun 20th, 2006, 08:14 AM
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1) Yes, you can travel the world with a child or even children in tow. Just makes it a little more challenging with more to pack. I traveled as a youngster, Italy at 4, Scotland at 10. The learning experiences for children are priceless.
2) "4 opens the door". It gets easier when kids are off bottles and eating solid foods, gets easier again when they are potty trained. We have 4-year old twins and they can better understand things now and can be easily entertained on longer flights.
3) no, I do not wish I traveled "instead" of having kids. I do wish we had traveled a bit more "before" we had kids. We were married for 4 years before we had kids and we just didn't take the opportunity to do it.
Lastly, don't let doctors and family influence your decision to have kids, as they are not the ones that will have to care for the child. That should be left up to you without feeling guilty either way. If you decide you do want kids, then yes, I say start soon because chasing after a toddler can be very exhausting. Good luck!!
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Old Jun 20th, 2006, 08:16 AM
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i just read this post and i wanted to comment. First I think noone is ever truely "ready" to have children, there is always alot going on etc... and it sounds like you are getting pressure from your family and doctor. Children are 24/7, a forever responsibility. As for travel with kids, of course you can, there are many places that have great activities for children like cruises, and many big hotels.
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Old Jun 20th, 2006, 08:20 AM
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We have 2 children - ages 3 & 5 and I have never wished I had traveled more instead. You can definitly do pretty much everything traveling w/children, but I've found that my travels now include more relaxing time (days at the beach) than go-go-go visiting multiple sites (they don't get a whole lot out of that stuff when they are little). I look forward to exposing them to more as they get a bit older. Flying hasn't ever been a problem, but there is just so much more to think about and consider when traveling with children that if you plan too much it becomes stressful. We are thankfully out of the bringing along the pack&play and diapers stage!

One thing that we really can't do at this point when we travel with out children is eat at high end restaurants which tend to have an atmosphere that doesn't match well with little ones. We still eat out a lot and great restaurants, but we can't do a lot of the real foodie spots since they tend to be quiet and not set up to cater to children. However it does make us appreciate it even more when we get a fancy evening out without our kids. You will also be limited as far as evening entertainment (theatre, etc). I've never tried any hotel babysitting services but perhaps someone else could comment on that option.

You might find you career is less important to you once you have children - I know I did. You really can't imagine what it is like to be a mom unless you are one, and I've never known anyone who has regretted it. You can always travel more later!

Oh, and house rentals are great when traveling with children - you get your own space w/dh after the kids go to bed!
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Old Jun 20th, 2006, 08:28 AM
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1) Yes, I know many that have done it, but many that would not due to too much stress on their child. Only you would know your own child and whether this was possible or not. Some can travel everywhere and some can't sleep normal for days going across one time zone.

2) Again, this is all so different for each child. My observations have been: some little ones are great, some are not. I would imagine the older they get the better, but not for all kids.

3) My DH and I would give up every experience, every journey traveled, every good restaurant, every museum and each work of art viewed in a second for the blessing of a child.

Something to consider.
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Old Jun 20th, 2006, 08:38 AM
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I had a nice job and, like you, I was never sure I wanted kids. That changed when I was 41 and unexpectedly became pregnant. Having a child has been without a doubt the best thing that has ever happened to me. There's no way to explain the joy (and challenges) that a child brings to your life. We traveled a lot before he was born and we still travel a lot now. It's a little different, but every bit as enjoyable.
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Old Jun 20th, 2006, 08:42 AM
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Happy Birthday, Heidi! The major issues about travelling w/ kids have already been stated here. The unknown factor is what wld it be like travellling w/ YOUR kid???....obviously, you can't know that today! So much depends on the personality of the child. Some are "easy", some are very high maintenance! You said that you & your DH are "not ready" to have a child & maybe you never will be! Having kids changes everything forever. The next time you travel just try to imagine what it wld be like to have a baby w/ you 24/7...run through the different scenarios in your mind....getting to the airport(think car seat, diapers, toys, snacks, change of clothes for you & baby!!), checking into your hotel(where is your baby going to sleep? Do they have cribs that you can rent?) going out for dinner, sitting around the pool (you won't do much sitting!!), hiking, biking, golf, museums,...whatever you do on your trips. I think that this will help you make your decision. You said that you both "have a lot going on" w/ your careers. Again, think about how the baby will impact on your careers. Will you take time off work? Who will take care of the baby when you are @ work? Try to imagine going to work when you have been up several times throughout the night w/ your child....sometimes they sleep, sometimes they don't! It takes a lot of energy to parent....If you decide today to have a child you'll be almost 40 when the child is born! Is your DH around the same age as you? Are you "high energy" people? When you are 55 your kid will be 15....I get tired just thinking about that!!
All I can tell you is that only you will know when your are "ready" & when you are ready, you won't need your family or your doctor or any of your friends here @ Fodors to "remind" you! Having kids is wonderful....the best thing that ever happend to me...but you have to be ready! All the best & have a wonderful birthday on Friday!
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Old Jun 20th, 2006, 08:47 AM
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1. It is most definitely possible to travel all over the world with a child, but one must use judgment and decide what is best for the family. My kid travels well, possibly because I make him do so. My life is not one that is tightly scheduled, and it really varies a lot. Perhaps my son (nearly 2) adapts easily because he has been forced to do so since he was teeny tiny, but who knows. I have friends who say "I could never do that with my kid." Of course, they don't know whether they could or not because they haven't tried. The needs do change, and you just have to know whether it works for you.

2. At what age did it become easier for you to fly long distances? I still hate it, but it's worth it! Again, the needs just change. Tiny babies are easy to transport and sleep a lot. A nearly 2 year old just takes more entertainment planning. DVD players, stickers, new portable toys (Bring Along Thomas - not Take Along Thomas - is a godsend, by the way!), colorforms - all these things are ways to keep a kid entertained on a long flight. Overnight flights work well. My son will sleep anywhere, anytime. Also a product of having no choice but to sleep anywhere, anytime. Parents make different choices about how to raise a child, but I never forced mine to go to sleep in a crib by himself. As a result, naptime occurs when he is ready (fortunately about the same time every day!), as does bedtime, and he lets us know when that time has come. He doesn't mind going to sleep in a hotel, or waking up in a new place (it happens to him all the time). He knows we'll be there with him and that seems to be all that matters. We have friends that have taken their daughter (nearly same age as our son) to Asia multiple times, as well as Europe, and report similar experience. Children really are a product of their environments, in many respects.

Having said that, I think there are some kids who just are homebodies and really want and need to be that way. Nothing parenting can do about that.

3. No. Being a parent is so worth it, and I wouldn't trade it in a heartbeat. We've been able to travel, just differently and in some respects better (more time spent in parks and at playgrounds meeting locals rather than hanging out in musuems and tourist attractions). I'm finally contemplating my first trip away with hubby without the little fellow (just not an appropriate travel opportunity for him), so life does go on.

Having a child is something you need to be ready to do for you, not for the purported ticking clock, or anyone else. Adoption is always an option, as well - so many kids need loving families. And for some people, having children is just not for them - I have a lot of respect for those who make that decision!
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Old Jun 20th, 2006, 08:47 AM
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My feeling is that if you have to ask this question, then maybe travel is more important to you. Then the problems associated with taking the kids along may spoil the entire travel experience for you.

If you and your husband have questions about whether or not you are "ready" (what ever that means) then the answer is most likely a big No. I think that if you really wanted children, you wouldn't feel the need to ask strangers.

That may sound harsh, but some children are a big problem with schedules, health, etc. If you were to have one that prevented you from going where you wanted to go......how would you feel? Do you think that you might regret it? Be honest, and if you think that you might, just ignore the family and doctor. They aren't the ones that will be living your life.
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Old Jun 20th, 2006, 08:51 AM
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First of all, I think you need to decide whether or not you want to have children...period! A decision like that shouldn't be based on travel issues.
If you want to have children, then do it. As stated before, there is never a perfect time. Children can be so rewarding in so many ways.
If you don't want children, that's OK too, but please don't base your decision on how easy or difficult it would be to travel with children.
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Old Jun 20th, 2006, 08:52 AM
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I suppose some people do KNOW they are "ready" but I never did! My kids were both planned, but it was still a feeling of tredpidation when we decided to start a family. I just couldn't imagine going through life without children so we went for it! I gave up a position in management I had worked hard for and enjoyed and prior to giving birth (while I was pg) I wondered if I might reget it. Never have! My boss offered me the option to go back to same position (I work part time mostly from home now) last year with a reduced schedule and for a second I considered it as the money would have been nice, but only for a second. Once I realized what I would be giving up (time with my kids) it was easy to turn down. I guess what I'm saying is that once you have a child it changes who you are and you really can't imagine how your priorities might change.

Don't know if you hike, but we did a 2 mile+ hike w/our 3 & 5 year old over Memorial Day weekend - they loved it! The older they get, the more you can do with them!!!
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Old Jun 20th, 2006, 08:55 AM
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Wow has some good insight. Also, I'd like to say, if your own biological clock hasn't started ticking by now that's something to consider. And energy level. Are you both in good physical shape? With my second I was 35 and my DH almost 41. We have struggled with energy levels, although we aren't in great condition, LOL. We aren't couch potatoes either. Dealing with a teenager now, elderly parents, a major surgery for my DH at 56 yr. old has taken it's toll. I'm not trying to talk you out of anything, just be aware of the challenges.
 

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