Is traipsing through India, taste-testing grains in Morocco and hiking in Peru still doable once a child comes into the picture?
Why not? Then again, I haven't a real clue, now do I?
In fact, I may feel differently once our baby is born in June.
If you're someone who has historically said yes to every adventurous opportunity possible (Want to jump out of a plane? Yes! Go caving? Absolutely! Glacier hiking? Black water rafting? Mountain climbing? Ah, yes, yes and yes!), then parenthood is bound to come as a bit of a lifestyle shocker, right?
But I have faith that new human life needn't equate to the death of travel. A couple of years ago, a friend told me a story about a woman climbing to the base camp of Mount Everest with her baby in tow. Spectacular, I thought. It was a bold and brazen move indeed.
Then the alarmist in me started ringing: What would happen if the baby experienced oxygen deprivation? What if the mother did and couldn't care for her infant? And is there an emergency service ward on one of the toughest, most romanticized and challenging mountains in the world?
Seems motherly worry had already created a comfy little nest in my mind long before I'd ever even entered the baby zone.
Thing is, I've been told many things about children and travel throughout the years.
Many folks have warned that embracing parenthood means having to say yes to cotton-candy theme-park travel and kid-friendly resorts with onslaughts of cheesy nighttime entertainment.
There have been warnings about the dangers of off-grid wanderings, unkempt lodgings and unsanitary conditions. And then there are those who've finger wagged against any place requiring vaccinations.
So, I thought I'd fish around Google for more information on the topic. Sigh of relief ... There is hope, dear adventurers.
According to the site, Kids Can Travel, anything's possible, from hiking Italy's Cinque Terre and backpacking through Kenya to exploring Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.
Meanwhile, REI offers fabulous advice for backcountry hiking and camping with children, and World Expeditions features family trips to the Himalayas, Antarctica, Sri Lanka and Nepal (though children are generally 10 years of age and older for these treks).
Here are some great tips to help parents prepare for the journeys ahead:
-- Once your child is old enough, involve him/her in the planning process. Eyeball maps, research cool places and create an itinerary as a family
-- Find out if vaccinations or prescriptions are needed where you're traveling. Be warned: Some countries require completed vaccinations months in advance of travel
-- Be realistic about scheduling. Creating a must-see list is exciting, but don't be rigid. You never know what incredible opportunity could come along to steer you off path
-- Backpacking or road tripping with a baby is not as crazy as it sounds. Think about it, babies are still easily portable and can't wander away! Invest in a good carrier, lightweight umbrella stroller and hand sanitizer. It's also smart to map out lodging points before leaving
While it's true I don't know how I'll feel when our own small squish is born, I will say this: I've eaten street meat from sidewalk vendors in Ghana where open sewage grates are as common as goats; I've wolfed down sandwiches stacked with unidentifiable meats in Cuba; and I've backpacked throughout South Africa, gobbling down whatever was available en route and, other than one really nasty cold, I've never been as sick as I have eating at all-inclusive buffets.
Twice I've been hit with the painful stabs of food poisoning at resorts, and a third time at a pricey Las Vegas hotel. And these are considered the safe and secure ways to travel?
Apologies now to our unborn son, but Disney World may not be in the cards. Oh, and totally unrelated, but anything relating to a singing purple dinosaur probably won't fly either.
In exchange, we'll show you the world: Not the manufactured version of it, but in the way it ought to be seen -- by living and experiencing it.
That said, when we're really sleepy and swamped and just too lazy to put in any real effort into planning, we may just pull up a warm patch of sand and loaf around.
Sure, we'll do due diligence and pack sippy cups, animal crackers and baby wipes like the best of 'em. After all, you're going to need them on this big adventure we call life, kiddo.
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