I estimate I only have a few months of swearing and cursing left. Possibly less.

My baby is due any day now and I’m told language skills will start to develop pretty much from day one and that within six months there’s a small chance the baby will be making sounds that could be words. So, ideally, I don’t want those first words to be the kind that would normally be bleeped out of a movie.

Mum and child on beach

This is just one example of how you become very aware of what you do as a parent is suddenly to being observed, learned and copied. There are also the endless questions. How will my actions influence my child? How will you teach them to be with other people? What’s the best way to teach them to be polite to others? How will I show them how to express themselves? How can I encourage my child to chase their dreams?

Dad and daughter on beach

It was only a matter of time before I got to the question: How will I teach my child how to travel? This question that really got me thinking and even if you’re years away from having kids or you know that being a mum isn’t for you, we are all capable of setting an example to children we go about our travels. Parents or not, maybe we all should consider if the way we travel is a good example to future generations.

Here are some of the things my partner and I want to say to our child about the art of travel and how to do it… and in the comments below, I’d love to hear your own ideas on how you would teach your child or children to travel.

Footsteps in the Sand

Travel responsibly

The world is your oyster, little one, but it’s also everybody else’s oyster and everybody else’s home. Please remember this when you choose where to go and how to get there. Nurture your awareness of the world all the time, not just when you travel. Read, research and ask questions so you know how to treat a place and its people with respect and always take responsibility for your own actions.

Travel sustainably

Travelling in a sustainable way is different to travelling in a responsible fashion. Sustainable travel puts the planet at the heart of what you’re doing. I don’t know what it’s going to be like when you’re our age but I fear the Earth will be more vulnerable and a little bit more fragile because our generation wasn’t as careful or caring as we could have been. I’m so sorry about that. But learn from our mistakes. Understand that travel doesn’t always have to be quick and convenient and therefore carbon-fuelled. Think about taking your time or travelling in a way that doesn’t use up an energy source that could one day run out.

Children playing in the sea

Travel with an open mind

Travel will open your mind whether you like it or not, but give yourself a head start by always remembering this: we are all different and yet, we are all the same. Do not compare people or places, take each one on its own merits. Embrace the differences in our world but always remember a genuine smile will be understood in any language.

Travel with open eyes

When we take you away somewhere I will drag you along to museums which you will probably hate and your dad will probably make you eat things you don’t want to. I’m sorry about that in advance but we’ll probably still do it because people travel for different reasons, with different interests and different motives. All I ask is later, when you get to choose your own journeys, make sure you travel with open eyes. Good, bad, ugly, there’s so much to see out there. Don’t miss a single thing.

Girl making heart witth stones

Travel with an open heart

I already know you’ve got a big strong heart. I’ve seen it on the ultrasound scans and I’ve heard it pumping inside your little chest. As you’ve grown bigger it’s slowed down, like you’re calming yourself for your entry into the world. I hope this little big heart of yours stays strong and calm and capable of a lot of love. Take that love with you wherever you go as you travel. Talk to strangers, listen to their stories, make them your friends, fall in love with sunsets, sunrises and the people you share them with. There’s no limit to how much love a person has. Believe me, because you’re teaching me that lesson right now.

Kids on a beach

Travel with someone you can be silent with

Because sometimes, possibly a lot of the time if you’re like me, you’ll want to be completely quiet for a while. This is the measure of a good friendship not an indication that you’ve run out of things to say to each other.

Travel to places you didn’t know you wanted to go to

Life is too short to read a bad book. Remember that as it’s always going to be true. But I’m not sure it’s true that life is too short to go somewhere you didn’t know you wanted to go. There have been so many quiet, small places which were a long way off my radar until someone invited me there or I made a spontaneous decision to go and once there, well, I fell in love. Let me name just a few of these places that have surprised me; Linz, Rotterdam, Madeira, Lucca, Ljubljana, Phuket. Now go find your own!

Boy on beach

Never stop having fun

Even when we’re not there and you’re all grown up, you can still benefit from travelling like a child. I still do.

When it comes to travel, distance is not important

The biggest mistake you can make is thinking that the best places in the world are the furthest away from you. Wherever you end up, explore your home as much as you escape it.

Girl in swimming pool

Travel on your own, at least once

I’m sad to say your mum hasn’t done much of this but your dad has and he still tells me stories about these journeys. Aside from being the ultimate self-indulgent way to travel – to do what you want to do and to go where you want to go – it will teach you a lot about yourself.

Kid on dad's shoulders

Dress appropriately

This is my only nag, because both blistering sunburn and cold wet feet will really do their best to ruin an amazing place. Plus, I don’t want you to get sick. I’m your mum. That’s my job.

Find some way to document your travels so you can tell us about it… and later your own children

If all goes well, when you’re our age your dad and I will probably be on some long luxurious cruise or doing something really embarrassing like wearing Lycra and cycling around Europe, but the time will come when we won’t be able to travel any more. That’s when we need you to come show us your photos, tell us your stories and share your dreams for future journeys with us. And if we’re not around for that to be so, make sure you document your travels anyway because one day you’re going to have to share the marvel of travel with your own children.

Kiddie photographer

And if you want to read more about travelling while pregnant here are my tips for flying when you’re expecting and some general travel advice for travelling pregnant ladies.

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All images available under creative commons license.


This post was written by Frankie Thompson who was a Travelette from 2012 – 2015. Originally from London, UK, Frankie was nomadic for several years before settling in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where she lives with her Australian partner and baby boy. She spends her time buying vintage dresses, riding a rusty old bike around the canals and writing books inspired by her travels. Frankie blogs about travel, writing and motherhood at As the Bird flies blog.