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Birthday Reflections: How Important is Travel?

travel reflections

All week I’ve been planning today’s post in my head. It was going to be titled “10 Reasons You Should Go to Botswana Right Now” . . . or something to that effect. It sounds good, right? I may get that one out next week. But as I was sitting there thinking last night, I realized that today was my birthday. If I were to honor my celebratory day (after all, we get one special day for ourselves each year, right?), then I would write something that’s special to me.

Not that I don’t love writing about specific travel destinations. I just prefer penning more self-reflective pieces. And as I mentioned in my last post, I really miss writing. I don’t do a whole heck of a lot for myself these days. I have a new little human to care for, and I absolutely love caring for her. So I am taking some time now- on my birthday- to do something for me; sit here, reflect and write.

Travel Reflections

travel reflections

Amazing Thai sunset over the Andaman Sea

I’d like to talk about travel for a moment. I started this site because I’m extremely passionate about traveling and writing. People travel for different reasons: vacation, curiosity, boredom, education, relaxation…. I travel for the journey, both of the soul and mind. I look for transformational experiences- even on something as tourist-focused as a cruise. Each time I go anywhere, my primary goal is to learn, experience and grow. I have an insatiable curiosity and appetite for knowledge.

travel reflections

Botswana sunset

The journeys we take through life don’t always necessitate flying on an airplane or driving great distances, though. I’ve been thinking a lot about life and my situation lately. Having a child really changes things (what everyone says seems to be true!). It’s amazing to feel the depth of love that comes with having a baby. It makes all the difficult times (and there are plenty! how can something so tiny be such hard work!) worth it.

But I’ve been feeling that nagging pull at my heartstrings. When something comes along that changes your lifestyle permanently, it’s tough to adjust. I’m sitting here typing, trying to concentrate while listening to my baby girl cry in the bathtub with her daddy. Should I go get her? No. Focus. Write.

You see, I used to have the relative freedom to travel when and how I wanted. Now, I have an adorable little tether grounding me to my home. I’ve always fully intended on traveling with children, and I know I will, it just won’t be as footloose and fancy free as I’m used to. Think about all that baby gear! Not to mention timing travel to fit in with a three hour cyclical routine of nursing, wake time, sleeping (and staving off those piercing unhappy cries!).

Besides that, my husband has a near 100% veto on my travel plans now (since I have to bring baby along, at least for the next year). I’m definitely not used to that! Getting his buy-in can be pretty difficult when it comes to travel. Honey, I think I want to go to Nepal, and I’m going to bring our baby. Yea, right! (But that would be amazing, right?)

travel reflections

Okavango Delta

Change

I’m starting to feel a slow change in mindset. I’ve been so focused for so long on experiencing other countries and cultures, mostly to satiate my own curiosity and thirst for knowledge of the world and myself. I guess you can equate it to those who are permanent students, wanting to constantly learn from the classroom (I have a bit of that in me as well).

What I’m starting to realize is that there are so many things to experience and learn about in life, so many personal journeys we take as human beings that happen closer to home than half-way around the world.

travel reflections

Sunset in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

My internal struggle now is determining how to balance my drive and determination to see the world with the need to let go and focus on nurturing and shaping the life of my child and participating in our family, which will include traveling, but not center around it. In other words, my priorities are shifting. 

travel reflections

Cambodian boy with his pet tarantula

For as long as I can remember, I would feel restless, as if I was wasting my days unless I went somewhere new every three to six months. I don’t collect countries or stamps in my passports. I don’t want bragging rights or to one-up anyone. I simply want to experience as much as possible of our beautiful planet and interact as often as I can with different types of peoples. I don’t think I’m unique in feeling this way by any stretch. That’s why many people travel and have travel blogs or websites.

travel reflections

A woman weaving in the Okavango Delta

Paradigm Shift

I’m just realizing now that there is something so much more important to focus on! I guess I’m having trouble adjusting to how I see myself in the context of the world and where I channel my energy. As people, we’re constantly learning, changing and growing.

What I’m wondering is, does having a child spur a paradigm shift in most people’s lives? Whether your focus is travel/exploration or something else: running a company, owning a small business, teaching, going to school… I guess I could ask this about any profession. Most people figure it out with day care or nannies. But travel is different in the sense that it takes you away. This applies more to women than men, but most women can’t be away from a baby for more than a day for the first 6 months to a year (if breast feeding… professionals can pump at the work place). Then beyond a year, you have to consider your child in any traveling decision that takes you away for any significant amount of time.

 

travel reflections

In summary, the method/style/duration/type of travel must change for me, at least temporarily. Also, my focus is shifting towards the much bigger picture of nurturing my child and family as a whole, less on my own personal experiences. I guess that’s what it means to grow up and start taking care of others. I’ve resisted “growing up” for a while now… I guess at 35, it’s about time.

travel reflections

A trip with family years ago to Montreal and upstate New York… Type and style of traveling can shift based on family needs.

So, as I reflect on this, and continue to do so, I’m really interested in how others feel about the subject of having children and travel.

In the comments below: Go!

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20 Responses to Birthday Reflections: How Important is Travel?

  1. Celine August 8, 2014 at 12:27 PM #

    Hi Lindsay! I can relate to a lot of the feelings you wrote about. When our little one arrived just over a year ago, my husband and I promised we would find a way to keep traveling. We took her on our first family trip when she was 3mths old to Barcelona. We enjoyed it so much that it inspired us to create babycantravel.com and write guides for people traveling with babies.

    Of course, there is still a shift in our thinking and planning now that travel involves a little one. We certainly have to allow for a slower pace of travel, which takes some getting used to.

    I do find myself thinking about the days when we can take her to places like Botswana. I want her to be able to appreciate it, so we will be waiting several years for that!

    For now, we are still finding many places to enjoy and the time exploring as a family!

    Take care,
    Celine

    • Lindsay August 18, 2014 at 7:20 PM #

      Hey Celine! Thanks for the comment! I appreciate the encouraging feedback. I plan on taking her on travels, it’s just going to be a hurdle convincing my husband that it’s “safe” for her to go to a foreign country. He’s very over protective. That’s really my biggest challenge… So, I fear that fact alone may limit my travel unfortunately. I definitely envision spending weeks or even months in Africa with her when she is a little older. I knew a family that took their grandchildren every summer. So enriching culturally and what a great way to learn about the world and life! Botswana would be amazing- one of my favorite countries! And considering that it’s actually one of the safest countries in the world…. maybe it won’t be as hard of a sell for me!

  2. SJ @ Chasing the Donkey August 8, 2014 at 12:28 PM #

    Congrat, on being a mama. BIG congrats!! As for travel with a baby, I have a 2 year old and am still figuring it all out. Yes it’s different than those foot-loose-fancy-free days pre baby, but it’s also so much richer in many ways, as I see the delight in my sons eyes for doing or seeing things for the first time – it’s almost more exciting than my firsts. And if you ever figure out the best way to pack for the kid without taking too much let me know, I have not yet managed to do it.

    • Lindsay August 18, 2014 at 7:31 PM #

      Thanks, SJ! I dream about raising Eleanor as a global citizen. I don’t think I mind slowing the pace down- at least for a little while. I just can’t wait to explore the world with her, and like you said, see the delight in her eyes!

  3. Megan August 8, 2014 at 12:33 PM #

    Lovely post, Lindsay. (And happy birthday!)

    I don’t think that you’re alone in the being-tethered-to-two-lives thing. Even without having a child, I feel that way. I think it’s beautiful though, that you’re exploring it and that you’re seeing the opportunity for growth and knowledge in nurturing your child and family. Travel will always be there, and I can only imagine how amazing it will be for you to share that with your little girl–showing her the world through your eyes, especially since you see it in such a beautiful way. 🙂

    • Lindsay August 18, 2014 at 7:38 PM #

      Thanks Megan! I can’t wait to explore with her! I hope she shares my curiosity about the world and love of people!! Right now we’re exploring our immediate surroundings together, and it’s so amazing to watch her take it all in and learn!! I’m learning a lot too!

  4. Trips By Lance August 8, 2014 at 1:10 PM #

    I guess I knew you were close to my age, but I think I forgot and honestly thought you were 28ish! Stacey had an opportunity to go to China for free a few months after our son was born. She couldn’t do it. There are and will be sacrifices. Some of them will really suck. I wouldn’t say it’s part of growing up, but it’s part of being a good parent. But shifts or travel sacrifices? You take that little girl with you as much as you can. Find different places to travel. Explore the U.S. more. Don’t worry about things for these first several months. We didn’t travel after childbirth until our son was about 10 months old. That had more to do with finances, honestly. If we were in the financial situation we are in today I do think we would have traveled more. But my wife was in graduate school and then the economy tanked right as she was starting a career as an interior designer. So our son’s first flight was when he was 5. We’ve been playing catch up since that time. We had friends who put their babies on planes after a few months. Only you can decide when the time feels right for that. We did put him in the car for a four-hour trip when he was 7 weeks old. And it was painful. But after that first trip he became an immediate car ride pro.

    • Lindsay August 18, 2014 at 9:17 PM #

      Ow! Four hour car trip at 7 weeks! She can barely ride to the doctor without losing it! Well, I shouldn’t say that because she’s getting better. We went to someone’s lake house this weekend. That was an hour car ride! We’re flying with her this week to Louisiana! At 10 weeks. I guess I am guilty of comparing myself to other people who jet set with their babies.. or even holding myself to my own standards of how I was raised (my parents brought us everywhere, and my mom made it look so easy!) I guess I’m also more deliberately focused on travel than I have been in the past, with a travel blog and all.. ha! I just need to keep reading all the advice from my fellow family travel bloggers and just go with the flow! I would love to do more local/U.S. travel too.

  5. The Guy August 8, 2014 at 1:14 PM #

    Many congratulations on the arrival of your wonderful daughter.

    I could never speak as a mother nor should I.

    As an outsider I can understand your lust for travel and the desire to explore. I also know that the time for a child as a baby is a short one and she is undoubtedly a priority. If it was me, I would try to stave off the pining from itchy feet and try to enjoy every moment with my daughter. Travel would be uncomfortable at the moment especially in such different places.

    I would maybe wait 2-3 years. Then my daughter would be old enough to grasp the concept of travel and be intrigued by her surroundings. After all, for me, travel is an education/

    • Lindsay August 18, 2014 at 7:10 PM #

      I agree with you that I should treasure every moment with my daughter and plan to do so! She’s already growing so fast, I feel like I am missing something! I don’t think I’ll wait 2 years though! We’re already planning immediate travel in the states. Not sure when we’ll have an international trip though. Should be within the year!

  6. Tom Edwards August 8, 2014 at 1:28 PM #

    It’s a great question you’ve posed here—and one that I’ve though about extensively. I have done graphic work for a couple of travel bloggers whose niche is just that: traveling with children. Apparently it is possible and can be a lot of fun! I hope it’s okay to post URLs here… their sites are http://www.wheressharon.com and http://www.theworkingmomstravels.com

    Cheers!

    • Lindsay August 18, 2014 at 7:06 PM #

      Oh- you did Sharon’s design? Awesome!

  7. Alysia August 8, 2014 at 8:05 PM #

    I have four “babies” and after each was born it took awhile for me to feel like I wasn’t living in a different dimension. The larger our family has grown, the more complicated travel has become- especially in terms of expenses and school. The older they get, the less flexibility we have. But we still travel, mostly with them. In fact, traveling with them is probably my favorite thing in the world. I have severe wanderlust, but have learned to be happy and satisfied exploring places closer to home. When finances allow, I would love to travel internationally with them. I look forward to that day.

    • Lindsay August 18, 2014 at 7:05 PM #

      I love that simile! Like living in a different dimension. So true! I completely feel that way right now. So, I’m torn between two schools of thought- one being that it’s supposedly easier and definitely cheaper to travel with young children/babies and the other that they can appreciate and learn from travels more when they’re older. I envision weeks in Africa with Eleanor during the summer instead of camp. Guess I need to make sure husband is on the same page….

  8. Trisha Velarmino August 10, 2014 at 1:31 AM #

    Whatever you do, do not stop travelling! I don’t know what it feels to be a parent but when I become one, I would definitely figure out a way on how to still do what I love and not stop there. Congratulations anyway. Life is a blessing. Embrace it. <3

    • Lindsay August 18, 2014 at 6:56 PM #

      Trisha, I definitely don’t intend to stop! I’m just having the inner struggle of re-prioritization at the moment!

  9. Nikie August 10, 2014 at 8:16 PM #

    Awesome article.

  10. frankaboutcroatia August 15, 2014 at 12:29 AM #

    Hi Lindsay, just was going through this week’s Free for all Friday, and ended up reading your entire post, although I don’t have children myself. However, I do agree with you that having a child shifts your focus entirely, and it’s just a natural process. It also gives so much joy. That said, while traveling with child can be different than travelling as a couple, it can still be lots of fun. There are many bloggers out there traveling full or part time as a family with kids. Belated Happy Birthday, and congrats to both on being parents.

    • Lindsay August 18, 2014 at 5:24 PM #

      Thanks!! I know a lot of folks do it (travel with kids), but my husband doesn’t really like to travel, so that makes it a little more challenging! I’m going to keep pushing for it though! We’re taking her to Louisiana this week, so first flight before 10 weeks… not too bad!

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