I always knew I wanted children, in fact at 16 I couldn’t wait to have babies… but I knew I had to. There were just so many things to do before children ruled the roost. I wanted to travel. At 21 I finished uni and covered Africa, Asia and Australia in 3 months and realised – IT WASN’T ENOUGH! The world is huge! I must go again. So I established my career (in healthcare management in the National Health Service), found the man who was to become my husband and convinced him we should quit our jobs, rent out our house and travel the world. We would go for at least a year we told everyone. It’ll be our last chance before children. Can you tell I thought the world would be closed to me once I had kids??

We travelled for almost a year, we covered most of South East Asia, Japan, New Zealand and more. Then we realised you can have too much of a good thing. Ooh, wouldn’t it be nice to see our friends and family, to not be packing and unpacking every night, to have disposable income (or any income for that matter). We started to fantasise about the mundane-ness of normal life. It felt good to book our flight home.

Four years, 2 children and a new house down the line and we have more than itchy feet – we are climbing the walls! But the funny thing is, it’s not the toddler and baby stopping us from globe-trotting just at the moment. In fact, I am so excited to go travelling with toddlers. While traveling the world, something which should have been obvious become clear – there are children all over the world. D’oh! How had this not occurred to me before?

The children in India walk to school arm in arm looking very similar to those in England. Incredibly, even the children living in the Mumbai slums can be seen heading out to school in pristinely laundered, white school shirts. The children in Thailand learn their alphabet by chanting, just like I remember singing my ABC’s at school. 

Do you know what I didn’t see when I was travelling South East Asia? Very few children were obese, few children wanted to stay indoors, no children had iPads or games consoles. Children played outside, even if ‘outside’ was a makeshift cricket pitch balance precariously on top of a rubbish tip. And they LOVED it! People always ask me how I coped seeing “all that poverty” in India. My answer is that I didn’t really see poverty. I saw hard working families who were happy, who ate well, and didn’t want for anything. 

“Success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get”

By this definition, the families we met in India were far more likely to be happy than anyone I know in the UK. It is this lesson that I cannot wait to teach my children. We do not need to earn lots of money, we do not need to buy fancy clothes or have the latest gadget. To be truly happy all we really need to have something fulfilling to do with our day, to have people in our lives that we love and to be able to see the beauty in what is around us.

Those Indian kids playing football with a tattered, deflated ball amidst the cow dung and free-range chickens taught me so much about appreciating what we have and not focusing on what we don’t have.  

Ok, so travelling with kids will be different, there’ll be a whole load more luggage for a start! But it is clear to me now – my travelling life is far from over. And I have no doubt my kids will be infected with the travelling bug at a VERY young age.