Can you backpack with your kids?

The road to reaching your epiphany moment – when you decide to eschew the conventions of a practical, typical life, and follow your dreams – has many different routes. Life-altering changes such as personal health scares, the death of a loved one, redundancy or some other moment of crisis are often cited as the trigger for people to take destiny by the horns and pursue the life they long for. Luckily for me though, I arrived at this point without any life-shattering event.

backpack through laos

The tipping point, if you can call it that, for my husband and I was simply seeing our two small children grow and realising how time spent as a family is never wasted time. All too soon they would be sucked up into the system of school, college, job, so taking the bold step of world travel with our young brood felt like the right thing to do, right now. First thing I had to do was negotiate my way around my own procrastination tendencies and leap straight in, as we needed to remain focused on what we wanted to do and why we wanted to do it. The plan was to maximize the time we get as a family and the money we had to spend while we were away.

The biggest part of our decision-making time was spent deciding where to go. Our wish list specified places that could offer warmth and beauty within a chilled out and safe environment, so we decided to travel to Laos. We wanted to travel slow and not feel we had to rush from one destination to the next, as we knew that would be (a) expensive and (b) stressful for the kids and us.

Travel with young ones can be unsettling, even when you are just taking a short trip, and repeatedly worrying about packing up and hauling everyone off to the next destination would have been exhausting. Laos was a great choice as we were able to take things at our own pace and not get caught up in the whirling rush of thrill-seeking back packers. When we did choose to travel, like when we took a boat trip down the Mekong to see the magical Irrawaddy dolphins at Si Phan Don, we were able to relax and enjoy it and went at a pace that we felt comfortable with.

backpack through laos, spain, granada, alhambra

One of the greatest advantages of travelling with children is that people are generally sympathetic to your needs as family, particularly if they have children of their own. Kids have a fantastic ability to immerse themselves in whatever situation they find themselves in, and easily started conversations with people we met along the way. Although we didn’t do any hiking tours through the jungle or venture too far off the beaten track, we didn’t feel like we missed out on anything because of travelling with little ones. The laidback atmosphere, mesmerising beauty and exotic peacefulness of Laos has a dramatic effect and enriched all of our lives, both as individuals and as a family.

—By Abby Wilkinson. She is a freelance writer and mother of three exuberant children. Born and bred in the UK, she has spent time living in the US and regularly travels to Africa and around Europe. She loves to draw upon her experiences and observations of travel and motherhood in her writing.


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  1. Having just recently returned from my first visit to Laos (mainly for the annual Elephant Festival in northern Laos – utterly fantastic!) I of course was eager to read this post.

    But I must say… I’m confused. First, the post says at the top that it’s “by Talon”, and I gather perhaps the initial paragraph may be his words, but…

    Right under the pic, the post starts rather abruptly with “The tipping point, if you can call it that, for my husband and I was simply seeing our two small children grow”.

    Huh? Talon – since when do you have a husband and two kids??? In short, it wasn’t until I got to the very end of the post that I learned who this presumably woman with a husband and a couple kids is.

    Also, there seems to be precious little on the subject of Laos – the title of the post, so naturally I expected at least a smidge of where they traveled, what they did, etc. Instead, it seemed just a very vague and abbreviated post on traveling with kids – that could easily have been written about a dozen other places on the Planet besides Laos.

    Sorry, but this post just left me very confused, disappointed, and wondering… why?

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    • Good points! I meant to change the title because I noticed the same thing, but in my haste and being distracted that slipped past me. It’s been changed now.

      I’ve moved her bio to the top as well. Hopefully that will be less confusing for people. My theme puts me as the author since I’m the one actually plugging it into the blog. I’m working on finding a way to change that or having a guest poster profile or something so that it isn’t so confusing when I have guest posts on the site.

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      • Ah, yes – now it makes much more sense. Sorry to whine Talon, but just goes to show – some of us read your posts carefully for every sweet morsel. And guest posts can be a little dicey.

        That said, I must say – yes, yes – backpacking all over the globe with rugrats is very doable. As a solo mom, I backpacked with my two daughters (then aged 5 and 8) for a summer in Mexico, and three years later, for more than 6 months all over Europe – living in France and Italy for a spell, and backpacking through Switzerland, Greece, the Netherlands, etc. staying in hostels or camping. It was bar-none, the BEST education I could give to my daughters!

        (check out my “Wordless Wednesday: The Way We Were” post for a rare pic of our bedraggled lot, along with how the Europe adventure came to be.)

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        • I’m very happy you said something! Chances are it could’ve/did confuse other people as well. So thank you!

          It definitely is the best education available. Absolutely priceless. BTW, we’re headed your way next month. 🙂

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