I won’t pretend that travelling long term with children is easy. Spending months sharing cheapo hotel rooms and fly infested tents with two small bouncy boys and a sometimes moody nine year old can try the saintliest of patiences. And I’m no saint. But there’s no doubt that travelling without them would be a very different experience.
The thing about children, is that they throw themselves wholeheartedly into whatever it is they’re doing. I could live without it when it involves sand and my bed, but when it comes to experiencing new things in new countries, it’s rather lovely. They don’t stand on the sidelines like adults tend to, feeling awkward and worrying about offending someone, they just get on with it.
We don’t go to temples and just appreciate the wall paintings. We buy alms for the monks and receive blessings from amused abbots. We light incense and candles and rub gold leaf onto statues. We pray that London will have a good King. We’ve spent a long time in Thailand.
A simple walk down the street is a big adventure. We have to stop and look at everything. We play with puppies, coo over babies, marvel at discarded fish heads on the beach. These explorations often lead to conversations being sparked and friendships being struck, however fleeting. People talk to us because their enthusiasm is infectious.
They may not eat vegetables very often, but they excel when it comes to trying new foods. Without them we wouldn’t have eaten snake in Vietnam, maggots in Northern Thailand or ice cream in just about every location you can think of. They miss having cereal for breakfast, but they make a good stab at enjoying noodle soup instead.
It’s a funny sort of life, and not always easy, but they rise to the challenge every time. Their resilence and enthusiasm amazes me and I can’t imagine undertaking this journey with anyone else. Yes, we’d be able to enjoy those sunset cocktails people talk of, and get to read our books by the pool more than once in a blue moon, but I think it would be just a teeny bit dull.