Walk the Line – Balancing Order and Chaos in Family Travel

Walking the line, in the metaphorical sense, is the idea that life is best lived “walking” the border between chaos and order. Parenthood has changed the amount of disorder I need to seek out in the world. There is plenty of chaos right here in my house. Cleaning is just beating back the ever encroaching affects of entropy. So even though I walk the line of chaos with dishes, laundry and the horror of two young boys using the same bathroom, I still feel it is a necessary endeavor to teach my kids how to explore the unknown (even if it is just unknown to us). As life and finances allow, I have chosen to show my children the world through travel. Here are my answers to the most common questions about how we keep the balance between chaos and order while we travel.

What Age Can Kids Start Traveling?

The world is a big place and there is a lot out there to explore. The answer to the question of when a child is ready to explore is easy. They come out of the womb ready. Little humans are made to explore. The real question is when are you as a parent ready to tackle the very real step into extra chaos to help them explore through travel. Infants are chaos makers of the highest order. Many of us cannot fathom taking on the task of traveling with them. Those parents that do travel with infants have a very high tolerance for living with the unknown and taking risks. So the answer to what is the right age to take children traveling is when the parent is ready to take them. There will always be a certain amount of inertia to over come on the first trip but I promise it will be worth it.

Where are good places to travel with children?

I like this question. It means the asker wants to get out there and is looking for how to do that. Our family started with trips around the US (easy since we live here), then Canada, Mexico and on to Costa Rica. We have trips to South America and Europe on the horizon. The kids would have been fine with Africa on the first try but we as parents were learning what works for us as a family. Notice we picked English speaking first just to simplify what we could. I recommend avoiding active war zones, totalitarian regimes and ebola outbreaks. But that leaves a long list of countries and places to visit. You will not run out. Start easy to find your rhythm and learn what your family likes and dislikes. If you have safety concerns ask your friendly travel agent or do the research yourself. You can visit Hawaii while the volcano is erupting but you may want a hotel out of the lava flow.

Will My Kids Appreciate Travel?

Yes. I have written about this in previous blogs here. It is worth reiterating though. Children benefit socially by seeing different cultures, emotionally by spending extended time with family, mentally by incorporating new experiences, and physiologically by voluntarily facing the unknown. Whatever age they are, watching you face decisions and unknown problems, they learn how to do scary stuff. Travel has an inherent risk of the unexpected happening. A travel consultant will help balance the risks but the more you are willing to take on that risk the more profound your trip will be.

There are plenty of other questions and advice about travel but, hopefully you will feel inspired to take the jump and book a trip. If you are willing to face the chaos, then your family will come home with a meaningful experience and expanded appreciation for adventure.