International Travel with Children

“Do we really need this?”

“Well, how much does it weigh? I guess if I am asking that question, we do not need it.”

“Did we want to check luggage this trip?”

“Did we check to see what ‘restroom’ is in the local language?”

The conversation for an international trip goes much different than a local trip! (For my post discussing local to you travel click here).

As I compare local and international travel, I wanted to start off by defining international travel. Traveling Internationally means you travel outside of your passport country, and the culture you are landing in is vastly different from your own. I say culture specifically because the locals may speak your native language but that does not mean that they will understand you culturally.

I am going to give more facts and things to remember when traveling internationally. You will have to weigh the pros and cons for your family, but remember that pros and cons for your family may be opposite for my family. I would also say that those pros and cons may change based on what time you go and the place you go. What may be cons now may change to be pros later, and only you know what is best for your family.

5 Considerations for International travel

  1. Price

Probably one of the biggest deterrents to international travel is the price tag. I will admit this is a daunting aspect of traveling. Though price is a big factor, I do not want this to turn you away. First, I have always seen the price as worth the investment. Every trip I have ever been on internationally, no matter if things went right or not, were absolutely worth it. I learned about myself and I learned about others in ways that grew me tremendously.

Second, if price is an issue, that just means you may need to put in more effort. (I discuss how price can impact deciding where to stay when traveling here.) Finding that bargain in order for you to be able to travel may take time. There are apps and sites these days that can help you stay in the know on the best prices and options. Also, you can find many blog posts all over giving tips on how to cut costs when traveling. I would recommend being specific and looking up tips for the specific place you plan to travel.

Third, be willing to make cuts now for that dream trip. There are some out there that do not travel internationally due to fear of the unknown; they are just homebodies and have no desire. However, if it is important for you or a dream of yours, then the sacrifice now will be worth the trip later. You can also find many blog posts on simplifying your life to cut costs. Making that step may be the first step to international travel.

2. Culture shock

Culture shock is the response you have when you travel to a location that has a very different culture from your own. There are different reactions to culture shock, but it is very real. It is actually difficult to explain when you have not been through it before. The more different the culture the more culture shock will affect you. It is also important to remember that you can face culture shock when entering a new culture, but you can also have just as intense culture shock coming back into your own culture.

I do not want to scare you, because culture shock is not inherently bad. Honestly, I am so thankful for each time I have faced culture shock. It helps me learn about myself and my culture as much as other’s. When getting back to my passport country, I see how to appreciate what I have in a new way but also to appreciate the culture I went to in a new way. Overall, culture shock is fascinating and worth the journey of going through it.

3. Flexibility

If you live life, I feel like you should know that flexibility is necessary. Life has a way of throwing some crazy stuff our way. However, this can be even more so when you travel, especially international travel. For all those “Type A” planners out there, that means you could make a very detailed plan, and things simply not go the way you thought. For all those “Type B” nonplanners out there, that means you need to take the time to do some research and a little planning in case of crazy circumstances.

Learning flexibility is good for so many reasons! The lessons I have gained through travel have taught me to embrace the unexpected, plan for the crazy, and love the unusual (at least unusual to me). It may not have always been easy, but it has always been worth it. If you set your expectations low and prepare yourself mentally for change, it won’t be so much of a shock. For our family, we simply say, “Our adventure changed a little” when we face an abrupt change. We have learned to let it roll off us and move on to what needs to happen to adapt to the change.

4. Adventure

Adventure is such a fun word. Looking at the first 3 points—price, culture shock, and flexibility—you probably were not excited to read those. I hope I showed how they should not be scary, but just realities you will face and get to work through. However, adventure is an exciting word, something for you to look forward in your travels. Based on numbers 2 and 3, I think you know what I am going to say: adventures are not always how you envision them. The reality is, when you enter a new culture you do not know how you are going to respond, and when you travel you do not know what is not going to go according to plan.

What I want you to remember is whatever adventure you do have, it was still an adventure! Try to remember the details because what you went through is your story, and you can embrace and cherish your story! I have had some pretty bad things happen to me while traveling, but those experiences make me who I am and are big parts of my story. I learned about myself and others through those experiences. On the other side, I have had things go so much better than I expected, and I learned from those experiences also. Finally, at times it doesn’t take some epic event to make your journey an adventure. Allow the little things to be part of your adventure.

5. Global Impact

You are part of this world. Just let that statement sink in. You are part of this world, and you have an impact to make. Whether you travel or not, you do make an impact. When you travel internationally, you leave a small footprint. That footprint has a global impact. When you travel you have a decision to make—am I going to care about my global impact or not?

I realize that is a deep question, but it is true. If you travel to another culture, they will notice if you try to learn how to respect them. Respect looks different in every culture. So, are you willing to put your worldview aside for a minute and learn what respect looks like where you are? Are you going to ask questions about them to see where they are coming from or are you going to make fun of their culture? Will you put in the effort to meet them where they are or are you going to make them serve you where you are coming from?

Your impact on others is a reality, but it is up to you the type of impact you make.

Every action we take impacts the lives of others around us. The question is: are you aware of YOUR impact?

Arthur Carmazzi

Each consideration I gave you has its positive side and its negative side. Let’s be real, that is true of everything. What I want to challenge you to do is see what you would consider negative and how that could be seen in a positive light. Those who travel internationally and love it have weighed the pros and cons and saw that even the cons can be beneficial. I wanted you to see these considerations are different from the considerations with local travel (link here). I also wanted you to see that traveling locally and traveling internationally have different functions, which means that though this is a comparison, you would really travel locally for very different reasons than traveling internationally.