Unfortunately, relaxing by a pool – nice as it is to do for a few days – was neither mine nor my husband’s style, so the eyebrows stayed raised and off we went to the Indian sub-Continent with our son.
What followed was an amazing holiday, full of opportunities and interactions that would not have happened had we not been travelling with a toddler. His blonde hair and infectious smile started many conversations with locals and rather than being hassled to buy things, we were invited into people’s homes to meet their families.
Sure, there were some days that were harder than others when he was tired or just plain grumpy, but, like everyone, we got those days at home too. We quickly learned to plan the days, making sure he had down time to just be a kid and kick a ball, have an afternoon nap in a proper bed or play with the few toys we had taken with us. Like most kids, as long as he was fed, had enough sleep and was with us, he was pretty happy.
When our second child was born a year or so later we decided to head off again. With our daughter only 8 months and our son 3 years old, our friends’ eyebrows went up even higher than last time. Now we had one in a backpack and an energetic toddler racing around…were we crazy?
But, once again, having the kids with us put a totally different perspective on our travels. This time, we did actually head off to Fiji but not to a resort – we backpacked around the outer islands staying in guesthouses and sleeping in open burees on the beach. With the Fijian people being so family orientated, we slotted into village life easily and were never short of a ready babysitter to look after the kids when we wanted one. In fact, we often found that the kids were whisked away from us for a cuddle and a play whether we asked them to be or not!