Our addiction to adventurous travel has returned!
Last year we visited Thailand with our three children (then 2, 4 and 6) E, J and L. It was so incredible that we returned there this April. We also have further “round the world” adventures planned for later in 2019 and beyond.
The place we just visited is remote to say the least (in the Phang Nga province, 25 minutes north of Khao Lak). Getting there involved indirect flights followed by a long overland journey. But once there we had 5km of unspoilt natural beaches to explore. It was paradise.
“Are you mad?” friends uttered before we left. “2 flights / 20 hours+ to get there, and with small children?” they cry. “Are you sure you don’t fancy staying in the UK or going somewhere closer with an all day kids club?” others stammer.
Even the nurse at our GP appears to be in on the idea that one should Never Go Anywhere Exciting Or Far Away With Children. Last year, when considering what immunisations we needed, she sternly asked – no informed me – that we “presumably would not be partaking in any local street food whilst away”. Amused I calmly responded that we most certainly would be, but that we’d be careful with our choices. The look she gave me was so disapproving that I may as well have said I regularly beat our children.
This year, we returned to see the same nurse for some follow up/new vaccinations. She looked at me, sighed and asked critically whether I was “planning on making these trips a regular occurrence?”. I smiled demurely (unusual for me) but firmly said that we would be. After a further and prolonged sigh, she agreed that certain vaccinations with a 25 year shelf-life (Hep A) were worthwhile. I left feeling irritated and unnecessarily criticised: it was not about the cost to the NHS etc but simply disapproval that we should take our children so far away. It felt like she would have preferred we go to a huge family-friendly European/American package resort, or self-cater somewhere more local.
I am very fortunate. Mr R and I have travelled extensively together. Before that, I had an incredible 6 months travelling on a round the world ticket when I was 25 and backpacked most university vacations (after 6-8 weeks of “temping” to earn my fare, as I paid for all these trips myself). I want to share with my children the experience of travelling off the beaten track as much as we can, whilst doing so in an environment that is extremely comfortable (more for me than them!) and safe. I want them to walk on silky white sand beaches. I want them to snorkel in water warmer than bathwater and see incredible marine life. I want them to try food they’d otherwise not even see, let alone taste. I want them to leave their North London (lovely) bubble and understand how privileged we are, but also that difference is not always so different (I love the Thai expression “same same but different”. Works in so many contexts). I want them to shop in local markets, soaking in the smells of eastern foods and spices. I want them to see so much beauty but also the poverty and reality of life outside our immediate world.
On a selfish level, I sometimes worry that I’m doing this just because I want to relive my backpacking adventures and pretend I’m not actually approaching 40. Or that our rose-tinted version in posh hotels is no different to any other family holiday. Or that my obsession with finding the most perfect, isolated and idyllic white sands and turquoise waters has gone too far. All of which are probably completely accurate, but my desire to share my love of travel with my children is also extremely real. With no complaints as yet from the children or Mr R (other than my travel addict perhaps getting out of hand when I suggest three such trips a year) our adventures look very much set to continue. And I for one cannot wait.