Changing family travel
Take a minute and think of the major decisions you have made in your life. I mean the really big ones. The ones that determine your direction and influence all the other smaller decisions that life forces you to make. Creating two point four and changing the family travel game, has forced me to reflect on these decisions.
For me, I have 3. This doesn’t seem a lot considering this year has seen my 40th birthday come and go, but that’s it, 3 big decisions.
It is 1 out of the aforementioned 3 that is most relevant today and that was the decision that my wife and I made to quit our jobs, walk away from the companies I had started and take our 2-year-old son travelling around the world. A tough call for someone like me who is most comfortable when structure and familiarity dictate and definitely not a decision that was taken lightly.
Read more: About us
But choose it we did and in September 2017, everything we owned was either sold or put into storage and we waved goodbye to Oman, our home for the previous 5 years and started this family travel adventure.
An unforgettable adventure
In the weeks leading up to our adventure, I questioned whether or not we had made the right decision. We knew that it was the right time to leave Oman but never expected to do it in the style we did. Anyone that knows me will know this would not be typical behaviour.
I won’t bore you with the details of everywhere we went but in brief, we kicked things off with a visit to Malaysia, onto Indonesia and Bali to remind ourselves how to surf, Thailand, Cambodia for an evening of eating bugs, Philippines, Australia, back to Oman, UK (twice), USA (twice), Nicaragua, Costa Rica for some zip-lining, Panama, Colombia, Mexico (twice), Belize for a scary scuba experience, Cuba, Italy and then finally the UAE. Visiting 18 countries across 5 continents and we found ourselves taking stock of an unforgettable adventure.
But how did any of this shape my family’s life?
Interestingly enough it had nothing to do with the air miles collected or the countries ticked off bucket lists. It was the intangible impact on my family that struck the biggest chord and watching my son grow and develop in a way I never expected, justified our decision to immerse ourselves in this adventure.
So what did I learn?
Firstly, never underestimate the value of time with your loved ones. Not just being in the same room. I am referring to the engaged, distraction-free, invested time with one another and this is what family travel delivers. Suddenly the old adage you thought would never apply to you, starts to make sense: the days, especially the early ones with a lack of sleep, are long and the years, between the first day at school and waving them off to university, are short.
Secondly, experiences do mean so much more than possessions. My promise as a parent was to ensure that before adulthood gets it claws into my son, I will do everything I can to prepare him for life in the best way I can. No different from every other parent who has walked this well-trodden path before me. I will try and make him adaptable to change, be flexible, respect others and ultimately raise someone who has a positive impact on the world in which he lives. And one of the ways I can deliver on this promise is through travel. Not allowing myself to fall back on the easy options, short flights, kids club and something with chips for every meal. I will strive to endure the challenges of long haul travel with broken sleep, breakfasts when we should be eating dinner and naps when we feel like it.
Read more: Experiences VS Possessions
Thirdly, travel with my son, enriched the whole process. Now, anyone that has travelled, whether for work or pleasure, will know that at times it can be a stressful and infuriating process. On top of this, adding children to the mix comes with its own unique set of challenges and emotional struggles and so this might seem a strange lesson. But no matter how many flights were delayed or bags were lost, the shared experiences far outweighed these hardships. It would be easy for the ‘shine’ of new experiences to be dulled through overexposure to them, but watching a toddler experience so many firsts, pushed me to see things through his eyes and ensured my levels of energy and enthusiasm remained high.
Read more: Our destinations
The benefits of travelling with young children became more apparent
My final takeaway from this experience was how resilient children are if we give them the chance to be. With family travel, my son learned to adapt and be flexible. He learned that patience and understanding and remaining calm are invaluable traits that will shape him as he gets older. Learning to respect new cultures and not seeing people as different, he played with children, local and tourist alike, in the carefree manner that I envy. The benefits of travelling became more and more apparent, and I’ve written more about them here.
Read more: The benefits of travel for children
Reflecting on all of the above and talking with other parents who have had similar experiences, or more importantly, want to have, really made me consider how this journey could continue. Would there be a way that I could merge my adventures with my experience in the travel and leisure industry, to create a product or service aimed at families with young children.
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