Appreciated guest article from the Joseph family, Soliswiss members. Reading time: 5 minutes
1. Identify your fears and real dangers
2. Preparing for long distance travel with children
3. Trust yourself, your best travel insurance
Many parents dream of discovering the world with their children. Imagine: the biology class observing the big animals in Africa, the economics class surveying the markets of Asia and the history-geography book replaced by a visit to the Inca ruins in South America. Isn’t this a caviar education?
We left 4 years ago with our 1 year old son to travel by sailboat. We have met many other families on our trip and are currently on land in Central America. All these parents share the concern of preserving the integrity of their family in unknown territory.
How do you approach a trip abroad and make sure you stay safe then? Based on these encounters and experiences, here are our 3 main considerations. We offer them to encourage traveling parents who wish to open new horizons for their children to take the plunge.
Identify your fears and the real dangers
The vibrant promise of adventure that comes with a long-distance family trip resonates with a fear proportional to the excitement. Unfortunately, this first legitimate obstacle is often amplified by the projections of the people around you.
Sometimes it is even other travelers who warn you about an imminent and impalpable threat that supposedly awaits you. They will not fail to tell you the vague and dramatic travel story of a friend’s boyfriend.
And for good reason, leaving your comfort zone requires courage. A courage often fed by the dream that it is a question of not letting oneself be spoiled. The first exercise for this is to sort out your own fears and those of others.
To leave with a free mind, keep your ears open, but carefully select those you decide to really listen to. Generally, the most experienced are the most discreet. They will calmly inform you about the real dangers to be taken into account on your way.
Secondly, accidents are possible everywhere. However, no one walks with his or her nose in the air waiting for the roof tile, neither at home nor elsewhere. The second step towards the realization of your family travel dream is to ask yourself frank questions.
How much of the project you have in mind is reckless, or even unconscious? Do you overestimate the dangers? What are the risks you are willing to accept? Do you feel capable of handling a problematic situation? Are you willing to prepare for all eventualities?
This brings us to the next point.
Preparing for a trip around the world with children
At this point, the game is to push the worst-case scenarios to the limit, break them down and discuss them as a couple. Contrary to popular belief, the more extreme an expedition is, the more prepared it is. Both former divers, we often borrowed the What If method from cave divers. It’s useful to have our action plan ready in case of problems before we go sailing or wandering in unknown lands.
Knowledge is your greatest asset. The more you know about your destination country, the more prepared and confident you will feel. To travel safely, this is when you activate your network and get out your travel guides. The main questions to address are
- Administrative formalities
- Political and economic news
- Local customs
- Climate and environment
For example, we fear snakes. There are actually quite a few around our home in Costa Rica. So we decided to do an introduction to bushcraft during a weekend of camping in the jungle. Did you know that a snake has no interest in biting a human? It saves its venom for its smaller prey. By learning a few things about their behavior, we now know where they live… so we can better avoid stepping on them!
Above all, we realized that sunburn and mosquito bites are real and omnipresent dangers.
On this subject, let us note that Nature is predictable and fair. With the human being, it is more complicated.
Let’s slide to point 3 to talk about it.
When safety is threatened from within
Traveling as a family is a radical departure from the traditional rhythm.
By living together 24 hours a day, proximity can create new dynamics. Unfortunately, they are also accompanied by new tensions.
It is a real responsibility to make sure that everyone finds their place.
Indeed, if one or the other does not experience the trip well, it opens the door to inattention. Making bad decisions in a hurry or out of anger can have serious consequences.
Trusting yourself is your best insurance
There is so much to see on Earth! While it’s understandable to be impatient to get to the next destination, to rush is to deprive yourself of the ultimate luxury. The luxury of simply having time to live.
Doing nothing can be difficult for some. This is understandable since we live in a system dominated by the principle of profitability. But isn’t it to escape and free yourself from this pressure that you want to go on a trip?
The point here is that slowing down allows you to reconnect with yourself because you are your best protection. We have indeed realized the role of instinct. It can save you a lot of trouble if you are relaxed enough to hear that little saving inner voice.
Because traveling is essentially about meeting people. Always memorable, they are sometimes good, sometimes not. So, observing, discussing, bonding and being attentive to your feelings is your best travel insurance.
The second point is to let yourself be free to stay or not. Use common sense and logic. If you don’t feel it, it’s better to move. Rather than trying to check off a bucket list, remember that you are looking for a great experience with your children first. Safe and beautiful places are everywhere. For a serene trip, we prefer to stay in areas where the fun is stronger than the apprehensions.
Globally, the trip for 4 years has given us confidence in others. Everywhere on the planet, the majority of people like their tranquility finally. With a little common sense and preparation, everything will be fine. If fear can be a salvation, it can be tamed. Traveling is a privilege and the world is the best school for young and old. Fear should not prevent you from experiencing this fabulous discovery of the World with your children. It is definitely the joy that should be the driving force of family travel.