Do you have to stop traveling once you have children?
If your life is set up for traveling then it does not seem to me as if having children will be that much of an obstacle — they will just change your parameters, but they won’t stop you from moving about the world at will.
People tend to live their lives through very narrow frames that do not allow much room for bending. It is an automatic reaction for most people to regard having a baby as being the end of your traveling days. It is for most people. Though my frame on life is also very narrow: I travel, and that is the end of it. So having a baby did not even pose any opposition to traveling, there was no question, no debate: we would travel with the baby and raise her on the Road.
All kids live the lives of their parents, and I find it no more extreme to travel with children than it is to raise them out in the middle of some agricultural nowhere (like where I from), in the middle of an urban jungle, or in the midst of a mono-culturized suburban wasteland. All lifestyles are extreme in that you must choose one to the exclusion of all others. There are benefits and drawbacks to any lifestyle. Just because it is not common to travel with children does not mean that their presence is prohibitive to the lifestyle — many children who are raised traveling love it and keep going for their entire lives.
It seems as if you and your wife are dedicated to traveling. I would say that if you continuously adjust your strategies to meet your changing circumstances that you will be fine living and traveling with children. By this I mean expanding the bounds of your traveling practices: stay in places for a month to six weeks, travel in yearly circuits, work abroad, study language, try to find ways to live consistent, substance filled lives while traveling. It is possible.
My daughter Petra is now eight months old. So far she has traveled overland across the USA from Arizona to Maine, to the Dominican Republic, all over Guatemala, and we are now in El Salvador. It has not been overtly easy — in no way — but raising children ANYWHERE does not seem to be an easy task. The main problem have been a lack of a support network. My wife is often overworked with caring for the baby, and I am often busy working on the website and doing other projects. I know that things would be a little easier if we had other people around who could help with the child care duties. But the benefits is that I am home all the time with Petra — she has BOTH parents with her all day long. If we were living in our home country — the USA — I would need to work full time and my wife may need to work as well. While traveling, we can live cheaply — we just rented out a room in El Salvador for $80 a month — and the earnings from VagabondJourney.com helps to cover most of our expenses.
Though it sounds as if you will have money. This is key. Things are exponentially more difficult for us because we don’t have much money — it is always a stress factor that we are spending more than we are making, no matter how little we spend. I am trying to make a living off of the website through ads, affiliate programs, and reader donations, but it has been a slow process — now into its third year of working at it full time. Though if you have a large amount of money saved to the point where both you and your wife can be with your children almost all of the time then I see few true obstacles in your path.
Before you have children, there is a choice — it is something you are always going to be thinking about and, if you don’t do it, it may be something that you regret someday. But once you have a baby that is it, there is no longer a choice: you don’t say “man, I wish I never had this brat” or “I made a mistake, this sucks.” No, you just deal with it. Once you have a child your base parameters of living are changed — you face each new challenge through the lens of having the child — not having a child anymore is not a choice, and I have found that I don’t even think of this. No, I am a father, that is the way that it is, and it is good.
So to answer your question simply: no, having a child does not inherently prevent a person from traveling, though it does make moving about the world a little more challenging — but a baby makes life more challenging no matter what lifestyle is lead.
I hope this helps.
Original question about if you have to stop traveling once you have children
In 2007 I sold everything that I had along with my then girlfriend (now wife) and we moved to travel around Europe for the whole year. It ended up being around 7 months. Europe was expensive and we learned many lessons. One of the main influences was Rolf Pott’s book Vagabonding. Needless to say, after living in Rome and farming in Germany, I realized who I was and how I want to live. My problem arises with the idea of children.
What does one do if they enjoy the idea of travel so much, that they live in the image you portray (which I LOOOVE) and might want to have a child later. Does the travel stop? We go back and forth over whether we want them, need them, or what would we do about our desires in life if we had them.
Right now we are planning on buying land and building a container house before the end of the year. Next year is the Appalachian Trail, and then possibly to South America. Of course the house would be paid for if we needed to have a place to stay and not pay rent. No rent = buying time for travel.
But if I could ask your opinion, what does a world traveller like you or I do when a child is in the mix? Stop travelling? I have debated this from many sides, just wanted to see what you thought.
BTW… I am an engineer at AT&T right now and this cubicle life is KILLING me. But by the end of the year, I will have cash for the land and container house, which means, no worries or reliance on anyone.