Sunday Reflections: Is Traveling All the Time Taking a Toll on My Family?
It’s no secret that we travel frequently. I mean, we always have. Ian and I were travelholics long before we had kids. Just name a place for a good price and we were there. We even insanely traveled to Cancun in 2009 during a swine flu outbreak because a deal popped up for flights + three nights at an all-inclusive hotel for $199 per person. We were travel mad, and we knew it. We agreed that we would try to continue traveling after starting a family. Travel has always been something we truly valued. For us, there is no feeling, terrifying or exciting, as touching down in a foreign land and getting off the plane not knowing how to speak the local language. It is so fulfilling for us when we get to interact and learn from people with different backgrounds and cultures, although, my favorite has to be exploring with my taste buds. I live for stopping at roadside food stands and trying whatever has been prepared with love for that day. When we had Joshua, no one was surprised when we took him on his first domestic flight at six weeks. When he was only 4 months old, we took him on his first international trip to Ian’s hometown, Manchester England, so that he could meet his great grandparents, uncles, and cousins. Although we had to do a lot more preparation to set out on our regular journeys, traveling with a baby wasn’t as bad as we’d imagined. We were on a roll, so much so, that Joshua ended up taking his first steps in Dubai.
When I gave birth to Harper in 2015, traveling slowed a bit. I was back to work after only 8 weeks of maternity leave though I’d just had my second cesarean delivery. I was desperately struggling with postpartum anxiety, and Ian was sleep deprived and barely surviving at work. It was difficult adjusting to life with two kids, and we knew it would be even harder to travel with two instead of one. They both demanded our attention, and we felt like we were constantly outnumbered even though the score was equal. After much contemplation, we were finally brave enough to take them on an international flight. Harper Leigh was 6 months and Joshua was 2.5 years old. We tried to prepare. We had to get extra creative with our in flight entertainment. If you have children, you know very well that a 6 month old and almost 3 year old are interested in very different things. The flight could go terribly, but we boarded and prayed for the best. I wrapped toys and books, old and new, in wrapping paper and shiny aluminum foil. I was armed with crayons, goldfish crackers, and spare clothes for accidents. We had resigned to not being able to snooze on another flight again. If one slept, the other was awake. It was like they took turns keeping watch to make sure that mom and dad got no rest. Our first international flight as a family of four wasn’t easy, but it was a success and of course that gave us the courage to keep going.
Fast forward to 2017. The kids were becoming a little more independent. We no longer had two in diapers, and could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Our nervousness of traveling with two little ones was slowly dissipating. The more short flights we took, the more the kids seemed to catch on to how this traveling thing worked. We celebrated Harper’s 2nd birthday on a white sandy beach in Puerto Morelos Mexico, and she loved every minute of it. Although we had to book flights for four, we were mostly using miles for our tickets, so we didn’t experience a huge financial hit. When we ran out of miles, I later learned why most people don’t travel with their kids. It can be expensive as heck! During that getaway for Harper’s birthday, we booked a resort that offered a kids club. We weren’t aware of how amazing “kids’ clubs” were. We’d wake up, have breakfast as a family, then drop the kids off for half the day while we sipped mojitos in the adults only pool. We were living the good life.
We’ve continued on this path for the past couple years, and at ages 3.5 and 6, our children are now seasoned travelers. However, since starting this travel blog six months ago, I feel like we are all traveling much more often than we used to. We are in a different country almost every month, not to mention the little domestic trips in between. Lately our family adventures have seemed to lose some of their shine. No matter how much you love doing something, when you turn it into a business, it inherently becomes a job. Yes, I know. Everyone says that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. I beg to differ. There is so much more that comes with building a business than just focusing on the part you love. Even if you’re a chef and you love cooking and creating new flavors, it doesn’t mean that you enjoy cleaning, inventory, and kitchen equipment repairs. However, all of those duties are a part of the job. I love traveling, and I’m passionate in my conversations with people about travel. I thrive from teaching others how to see the world on a budget. One of the best rewards for me is seeing the sparkle appear in someone’s eyes when they realize just how big the world is. On the other hand, I struggle big time with technology. I’m not very tech savvy, and figuring out how to set up and design this blog has been the hardest thing for me. I’m still trying to decode SEO. Two words, EPIC. FAIL. I taught high school Chemistry for a while, so as you can imagine, I don’t have much experience with photography, video editing or any of the other artistic talents needed to be a successful travel blogger. However, I’m committed to perfecting my craft, so I keep working at it daily. I’ve been feeling the growing pains of Traveling Miya, but was unaware that my family was being affected by it also.
Ian and I are heading to Italy soon without the kids. This will be our first time visiting Italy, but our fifth country this year and it’s only February. That’s a lot of travel, even for us. Today, I mentioned to Joshua that I was taking another trip. He immediately asked if his Dad was going too. I said yes, and he replied disappointedly, “ Why do you travel so much?” Although I didn’t show it, my heart sank. I felt guilty like I was doing something wrong. Of course, I didn’t let him know that what he said affected me, but I asked more about why he felt that way. I asked him if he still enjoyed traveling. He said yes, but that Mama and Dad could travel, but he wanted to stay home. Now, I’m sitting here thinking what in the world have we done? Was starting a travel blog/business a bad idea? I didn’t want to take something that my kids love and turn it into something they dread. I thought that we were making great choices for our kids by allowing them to explore the world. Every time we traveled, we’d make sure to have kid friendly activities. We always ensured that they had experiences directly related to them. If I’m honest, I had begun to notice that visiting our favorite destinations had now started to feel like invasive journalism assignments. Well, today I got a wake up call that I wasn’t the only one that felt this way. His small question was a jolting reminder for me to take a step back and maybe slow it down a little. I’m grinding to make Traveling Miya a success, but I have to realize that all success comes at a price. Traveling the world, creating videos, and writing to tell others about how they can do it too is a dream come true for me, and I’m not giving up on it. However, paying a little more attention to what my kids need while still trying to fulfill my own dreams is probably an even better recipe for success. We will definitely continue our family adventures around the globe, but maybe we will do it at a much more natural pace.
What are your thoughts? Have you ever been presented with conflict that occurs from chasing your dreams? Has it affected your loved ones and what did you do to resolve it?