As a free-spirited, traveling mama who has taken her children on amazing global adventures,
I am often asked a series of “hows".
“How do you manage three kids alone?”
“How do you keep yourself safe?”
"How do you find places to stay when abroad?"
Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love when people ask me how I travel! I love being able to answer these questions, and I love being the guide that aids in opening up the world of travel to families. This is a passion of mine. I am dedicated to imparting all of my “hows” so that travel can become a reality for you and your family. And while I love to teach the "how" to the masses, there is an inquiry about my lifestyle that I also value: that question is "why".
My "why" is not determined by a desire to acquire sponsored trips; my "why" is not motivated by passport stamp bragging rights. You better believe that I am proud of each one of those stamps in our passports, and I do count countries because every nation we have been blessed to visit has shaped our lives in some kind of way. Whether the experience was positive or negative, our lives have been permanently transformed by every place we have spent time in. Every one of those stamps represents sacrifice, dedication, adventure and friendships built; they tell stories of triumphs, brokenness, hope, healing and newness of life.
I have traveled to over 30 countries with my children, and this is why i do it:
1. I travel with my children to build PERSEVERANCE
Most of our travel is not strategically planned out with every moment calculated. And while I do want my children to be comfortable when we travel, I also use these opportunities to stretch their limits. We've stayed in youth hostels all over the world, camped in tiny houses in Spain, taken a thirty hour train ride from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur and survived eighteen hours in third class on a train that kept breaking down going from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. They learned to navigate Morocco during Ramadan, and can use a squatty potty like nobody's business. In fact, I potty trained LiLi in South East Asia using the squatty potty. They have walked through markets where cow heads are being hacked and unfamiliar odors are pungent—these moments also teach powerful lessons.
All of these experiences have expanded their limits and broaden their horizons.
I am constantly blown away by my children's abilities to adapt to change, and how they feel comfortable no matter where they are. They have learned perseverance through unfamiliar circumstances, and these lessons will carry them into adulthood.
There's nothing like travel to build up a child's resistance and to teach him or her flexibility.
2. I travel with my children to shape their worldview
While I firmly believe that travel is not the only way one can raise global citizens, it has definitely been influential in my children's lives. One of its greatest impacts has been on their views toward Muslims. With Islamophobia on the rise globally, I am so proud of my children's love and appreciation of Islam and those who practice the faith. They do not view Muslim women as oppressed and abused; they see them as powerful business owners, world leaders and glamour queens. They are the women who opened their homes to us and planned surprise birthday parties for them in Malaysia. They are their "aunties" who fill their lives with so much joy, inspiration and love. Some of these women wear beautiful head coverings by choice and not by force.
My children also have no fear of Muslim men. Their Muslim "uncles" would give a perfect stranger the shirt off their back; they are the men who fed us their own food before they fed themselves while in Morocco last summer. Men who are artist, doctors, scientists, taxi drivers, street vendors, activists and peacekeepers. Muslim men are fathers, grandfathers, brothers, uncles, lovers and friends—Muslim men are not terrorists.
Travel reinforces their passion for social activism and radical justice. As they connect with the world and identify themselves as global citizens, they desire to see justice for oppressed peoples all over the world, and not just for those who belong to their groups. They have learned empathy and authentic coexistence from their travel experiences.
One of the greatest impacts that travel has had on my children is their love and respect for all. They watch and learn and observe and absorb all that is around them. Their perspectives are shaped by these realities and not by news stories.
3. I travel with my children to raise them as feminists
Travel is a significant way to teach feminist lessons and to destroy generations of toxic masculinity. I often travel alone with my kids, and this is a powerful example for them. Travel teaches my daughters that being a wife and mother does not mean that they must stop being their wild, free and adventurous selves. Travel teaches them to be brave and to take risks, and that they are able to overcome any challenges life throws before them. Ama and LiLi are bold and confident, and their travel experiences give them opportunities to walk in these qualities.
Travel is also imperative for my son. Travel can be used to break cycles of misogyny and to raise sons who will become powerful men. Nasi will honor confident and powerful women, and he will not be insecure and attempt to snuff out a wild woman's fire. He will not validate who he is through shallow expectations demanded by a broken society, and he will be free to pursue his own passions. He will raise powerful sons and daughters who are also free from the chains of toxic masculinity.
4. I travel with my children because they are persons of color
As a mother raising children of color, giving them a global identity has become a necessary means of survival. Travel has taught them that there are no limits to who they can be, and it has shown them that there is no single story written for their lives because they are the authors of their own destinies.
They are free in their ambitions because they have been given exposure to a world that told them that they belong; they have experienced life through the lens of possibilities that is not often presented to them in the United States. Travel has taught them to be open and to reject fear; it was taught them to say "yes" to the unknown while being innocent and free. They are given space to be great without being judged.
Through travel, my children are able to build an identity that is not constantly connected to pain and systematic trauma. Travel has given them the audacity to believe that they can be anything they want to be, and to fill their lives with whimsical magic.
Don't children of color deserve the privilege of believing that their lives matter?
5. I travel with my children to show other women that they can, too
There's no greater feeling than hearing testimonials from other women about how my life inspires them. Women of all ages, faiths, ethnic backgrounds and political opinions.
I never realized that what I do is revolutionary until I backpacked alone with the girls through South East Asia for nearly four months—Ama was four, almost five, and LiLi two. I met so many young travelers, and local women, on trains and in hostels who told me that they never realized they could travel with children.
They were under the impression that all their travel needed to be done before kids came in the mix, and my example caused for a huge paradigm shift in their thinking. Some of these women had never desired motherhood until meeting me because they didn't want to lose their own lives and desires.
I firmly believe that one must look at motherhood as a new kind of adventure where one makes up one's own rules. Define motherhood for yourself, and carve out your own path to follow.
6. I travel with my children because I love to travel
I never traveled with the intention of inspiring anyone else to do so. I am thankful that my example redefines what many have been taught to believe regarding motherhood, and that it paints a new picture of what family life can be. But I also travel with my children simply for myself. I spent years traveling around the world before I became a mother, and I couldn't imagine a life that didn't involve overseas adventures just because I had kids.
I was still going to float across the globe, and they were just going to have to come along with me! Not everyone agreed with my lifestyle choice and I received loads persecution for my decision.
I decided to just do me.
Motherhood requires selflessness and sacrifice, but one does not have to lose one's passions and dreams because of it. I was a woman with hopes and desires before I had children; I am a woman with hopes and desires with them. Not all of my dreams are identical to what they were before having babies, but I still work hard to live my best life.
The reasons I travel go far beyond quests for pretty Instagram photos that are perfect and polished—I traveled long before Instagram existed. I travel to connect with the world around me; to learn from others, build friendships and to be changed and challenged deep within. I travel with my children so that they can experience this same kind of inner transformation.
The world is beautiful and vibrant, and it is also vast and wide. There is so much to learn by discovering it, and this is why I travel with my children.
why do you to want to travel?
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