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Is long-term travel good for kids??

nancy sv

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  • Added on: August 2nd, 2010
The Guardian of the UK just publishd a great article about us: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/jul/31/vogel-family-cycling-america The writer did a good job of presenting both sides of the story and was pretty non-judgemental. Yes, there are issues surrounding long-term travel, but I think overwhelmingly it's positive. I know it is for our sons anyway.
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WT

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  • Added on: August 6th, 2010
Good article about your journey and the controversy, Nancy.

Of course, long term travel is great for kids and it doesn't have to include danger or risk ( or any more than one has at home). Few people would want to take your kind of high stakes trip, but I hope it encourages other families to know that there are many ways to do long term travel and it doesn't have to be controversial either. ( As we talked about in the other thread, it also does not have to exclude long term friendships either if that is important to the children or parents). There are as many ways to do it as there are families.

Breaking a record, taking big risks and long term travel are all very separate things. I'm sure you and others like the sailing girl or mountain climber will also continue to inspire others who have those interests. Stay safe and be proud of your accomplishments.


One thing that does seem odd, is there is this misconception in many of the published articles from your PR that assumes that you lived a normal life in Boise for many years before you took off on this trip. BUT that was not the case, so it makes many of their social arguments extra silly. ( It's not lke you pulled them away from 11 years of living in one place with deep roots into daily life and old friends from prek.....which would have been harder, but they have always lived a nomad life).

You've chosen to live very differently and been into biking long before the boys were born and their whole life has almost never fit into the American suburban ideal ( looks like you just actually lived in Boise for a year when you were not biking and most of that time you were preparing for a long bike trip).

I'm amazed at how much time you have to do PR and write while homeschooling and traveling!
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which I can not do,
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I may learn how to do it.
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nancy sv

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  • Added on: August 6th, 2010
One thing that does seem odd, is there is this misconception in many of the published articles from your PR that assumes that you lived a normal life in Boise for many years before you took off on this trip. BUT that was not the case, so it makes many of their social arguments extra silly. ( It's not lke you pulled them away from 11 years of living in one place with deep roots into daily life and old friends from prek.....which would have been harder, but they have always lived a nomad life).


It's really hard to explain that we've lived the expat life in various countries and at home in Boise for a while, so I generally just skip it. We did live a very "normal" life until the kids were 8 - even though a good portion of that time was in other countries. The boys went to school every day, John and I went to out teaching jobs, etc... Even though it was in other countries, it was still very much similar to what it would have been in the USA.

the boys went to half of first grade, all of second, and all of fourth grade in Boise, so for them that's home. That's where they feel most comfortable saying they are from so, to simplify things, we just say we're from there and leave it at that!

As for time - we travel very, very, very slowly. We have tons of downtime!
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Mama-to-many

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  • Added on: August 8th, 2010
[
nancy sv wrote:As for time - we travel very, very, very slowly. We have tons of downtime!


I think I read you guys often go about 20km a day - am I imagining that?
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WT

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  • Added on: August 8th, 2010
Nancy, yes it is confusing. You said in the other thread about friends for traveling kids:


We lived in Ethiopia until the boys were nearly 5 years old, then in Taiwan for 2 years.


And I know you took that year off biking the US, while based in Boise, so that seems like most of their lives experienced in VERY different cultures and not long in Boise. Sounds like they have spent longer in Ethiopia than Boise and clearly, more years outside of the US.

But thanks for clarifying and it makes sense that they might relate more to Boise since they were there last ( and when they were older).

I must say, I do have mixed feelings about exposing young kids to high danger levels. If all goes well making a record, seems like it might be a positive, but when a child dies in the process, like Jessica or gets serious injury like the Nepalese boy, Temba Tsheri, who lost five fingers to frostbite in an aborted attempt to climb Everest in 2000 etc, it can seem tragic, heartbreaking and reckless to say the least.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/girl- ... 04367.html


I'm a much bigger risk taker than most, but can't help wondering how you would feel if that bear had gotten your son, or any of the many high risks that you have faced led to permanent harm or death of your child or children?

Having had a brother who died young when riding a bike traveling ( hit by a car and no fault of my brother who was far off the road just taking off his shirt, but the driver was going fast and made a huge error) and having recently suffered 11 months of a paralyzed arm ( and major surgery) from a simple fall from a bike, I think you have been amazingly lucky. ( As was my brother for many years as he did extensive biking often in dangerous places).

It certainly won't stop me from biking, but it will keep me from biking in dangerous places or allowing my child to bike or do anything where the risks are high. Sure, there are no guarantees of safety in this world and adventure is great for kids, but where are the limits exactly and why?

As I'm sure is true of many of us who want the best for all of you, I must admit I worry about you too and keep you in our prayers. More than anything, I hope you complete your journey safely! It's a more dangerous mission than I would ever want to do with children. I'm all for long term travel with kids, but think it can be done with much less risk.

I personally don't think any record is worth risking a child's life, but then I don't think much of records as they are often more about ego than experience. I don't like many of the competitive high risk sports for the same reason. I think it is wonderful that your sons are experiencing different cultures and places, but I'd rather it was done without the high risk experiences that you've talked about.
http://www.soultravelers3.com

I am always doing that
which I can not do,
in order that
I may learn how to do it.
PABLO PICASSO

Andromeda

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  • Added on: August 10th, 2010
I must say, I do have mixed feelings about exposing young kids to high danger levels. If all goes well making a record, seems like it might be a positive, but when a child dies in the process, like Jessica or gets serious injury like the Nepalese boy, Temba Tsheri, who lost five fingers to frostbite in an aborted attempt to climb Everest in 2000 etc, it can seem tragic, heartbreaking and reckless to say the least


Gotta say, this is why I'm confused when familyonbikes gets lumped into the same category as some of the risk-taking teens out there. Sure life is full of risks, but it's one thing when your parents are there and doing things one step at a time under supervision and another to be Jessica Dubroff trying to fly across the country at age 7.

The story that really disturbed me recently was of the 13-year-old boy who climbed Everest- good for him, sure, but there is a 10% change of death for anyone who attempts to summit and you kill brain cells by the millions even with supplemental oxygen at such altitudes. Not something I'd ever want in a still-developing brain! So that one weirded me out just because I couldn't imagine what parent would put their child in such a situation.

nancy sv

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  • Added on: August 13th, 2010
I also don't think exposing children to unecessary risk is a good thing - and I don't think we are doing anything particularly risky. There would be a much greater risk of harm if we were traveling in busses than we are on bikes - yes that is statistically supported. (But I can't find the stats right now)

I think a lot of people feel biking is dangerous, but it really isn't. The main risk on a bike is riding in heavy traffic - which we rarely, rarely do. While we are on the open road, the risk of getting hit by a car is very low. Yes, we do pass through cities, but we try to minimize them and are extraordinarily careful when we do. That doesn't mean we won't get hit, but we hope to minimize the chances.

As for the bear - that could have happened had we been out there camping with a car too. If you venture into bear country, it can happen. MOST bears would never have approached me - this bear exhibited very bizarre behavior. all you can do is take appropriate precautions and go.

I loved Lenore Skenazy's response about her son taking the subway in NY alone when he was 9. "Sure, we would have been devastated if something had happened to him, but we have to allow him to grow up and experience the world sometime." That's how we feel - we feel our sons are having hte best possible childhood and are learning way more about the world and themselves than they could in any other manner.

I realize something could happen to one or all of us - but something could happen at home too. In 2006-07 we spent 12 months cycling 9300 miles through 19 US states and 5 Mexican states. Nothing ahappened at all. But three weeks after we got home we went out hiking south of our house in Idaho and Daryl came face-to-face with two rattlesnakes. A month later, I was hit by a car while riding my bike home from school.

There are dangers everywhere. Do we stop our lives in order to prevent it? But then, what happens if we slip in the bathtub, hit our head, and die? (Yes - that happened to a 6-year-old kid who lived down the road from me)

Someone once said, "You see the world through glasses tinted with your experience." john and I have ridden our bikes thousands and thousands of miles through many countries - and never had an incident except in the USA. We think what we are doing is perfectly safe. I find the idea of traveling in an RV terribly dangerous - they are so big and unwieldy compared to our tiny, nimble bikes. But that is my perception based on my experiences - I find the idea of traveling on motorcycle or horse scary too.

Yes, something could happen. But it could happen anywhere.
Last edited by nancy sv on August 13th, 2010, edited 1 time in total.
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nancy sv

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  • Added on: August 13th, 2010
Mama-to-many wrote:[
nancy sv wrote:As for time - we travel very, very, very slowly. We have tons of downtime!


I think I read you guys often go about 20km a day - am I imagining that?


No - you aren't imaginging that. We don't generally go that short distance, but if we're climbing a big hill or battling horrendous headwinds, that's not uncommon.
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nancy sv

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  • Added on: August 13th, 2010
WT wrote:
I personally don't think any record is worth risking a child's life, but then I don't think much of records as they are often more about ego than experience. I don't like many of the competitive high risk sports for the same reason. I think it is wonderful that your sons are experiencing different cultures and places, but I'd rather it was done without the high risk experiences that you've talked about.


No way is a record worth risking ANYONE'S life! For us, the world record has always been secondary. It was an afterthought after we had planned the journey and we would give up the record in a heartbeat if we felt we were in danger.

Honestly, I know way more people who have been injured or killed in car accidents than in bike accidents. That doesn't mean an accident won't happen, but traveling on bike is one of the safest means of transport in the world!
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halfnine

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  • Added on: August 14th, 2010
I also don't think exposing children to unecessary risk is a good thing - and I don't think we are doing anything particularly risky. There would be a much greater risk of harm if we were traveling in busses than we are on bikes - yes that is statistically supported.


Having overlanded much of your journey, I'd agree. And then once you start talking overlanding via public transport through Africa and Asia which many traveling families do, I'd agree even more.

As for the bear - that could have happened had we been out there camping with a car too. If you venture into bear country, it can happen.


I'd agree with this as well.

No way is a record worth risking ANYONE'S life! For us, the world record has always been secondary. It was an afterthought after we had planned the journey and we would give up the record in a heartbeat if we felt we were in danger.


Unfortunately, though, once you decided to attempt a record and also decided to sell your stories along the way for money, you opened the door as to your real intentions. Without those things you'd probably see less criticism. For instance, there is no "travel benefit" to cycling the Dalton Highway. It's purely an adventure. Now, I don't inherently believe it was putting your kids lives in any danger (it's still a travelled highway after all), however had it not been for the record you likely wouldn't have bothered doing it.

nancy sv

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  • Added on: August 19th, 2010
halfnine wrote:
Unfortunately, though, once you decided to attempt a record and also decided to sell your stories along the way for money, you opened the door as to your real intentions. Without those things you'd probably see less criticism. For instance, there is no "travel benefit" to cycling the Dalton Highway. It's purely an adventure. Now, I don't inherently believe it was putting your kids lives in any danger (it's still a travelled highway after all), however had it not been for the record you likely wouldn't have bothered doing it.


True - we wouldn't have. But now that we've cycled all the way to Bolivia, I am SO glad we did the Dalton - it was one of the BEST parts of the wholejourney! There are few places I would love to go back and re-cycle: Mexico, Colombia, Honduras, and the Dalton Highway!!! The
Arctic tundra was one of my favorite places on earth!
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WT

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  • Added on: September 17th, 2010
As I said earlier

Breaking a record, taking big risks and long term travel are all very separate things.


I think halfnine brings up VERY good points.

Unfortunately, though, once you decided to attempt a record and also decided to sell your stories along the way for money, you opened the door as to your real intentions. Without those things you'd probably see less criticism. For instance, there is no "travel benefit" to cycling the Dalton Highway. It's purely an adventure. Now, I don't inherently believe it was putting your kids lives in any danger (it's still a travelled highway after all), however had it not been for the record you likely wouldn't have bothered doing it.


We have been traveling the world as a family for 5 years now ( we sold our home in 2005 and started our location independent life when our child was 5) and we have not had the criticism that you have experienced despite being featured in the New York Times, UK Guardian, Huffington Post, BBC, National Geographic Traveler, etc ( we have never done one press release).

Who knew we would be trendsetters when we took off? We had no idea that people would be so interested in our world trip and that world traveling "digital nomads" would become a hot trend as we left long before Tim Ferriss wrote the mega hit, The Four Hour WorkweeK ( which we are thrilled to be case studies in). I'm not saying everyone "gets" what we are doing or that it is for everybody to do, but not trying to make a record, but just traveling the world as a family, leads to less criticism I think. ( Thus I think the title of this thread is a bit misleading). Most of the criticism that you get uses direct quotes from you about your experiences about the dangerous or hard times with the kids to back up their view points.

I think it is partly because we are not after any records to break and our travel is PRIMARILY to educate our child in the best possible way and have more time together. Plus we live very luxuriously ( and adventurously) as we travel the world on just 23 dollars a day per person and we also make sure we meet the social needs of our child with long term friendships etc.

I am sure there are pros and cons to the record making, but I think the biggest con, is one gives up the total joy of freedom in travel by "having" to do things that you don't really want to do because of the commitment to the record, more than the travel itself. You've talked a lot about months of miserable times where you would have given up, and I always think, wow, I am so glad that we can always do what we want so we never have to spend months in misery.

We have had NO misery as far as travel on our world trip. If something or a place doesn't work, we are not tied to any goal or record, but can do whatever it takes to make us happy. Doing some long time suffering with a child is the opposite of what we want out of our travels. Even when I was injured we made that fun and supportive for all of us based on our needs.

We actually might break some unofficial record for open ended family world travel as we have no plans of stopping, ( and already seem to hold the record for blogging and youtubing about it) but that is purely an accidental thing that does not curtail our freedom in any way.Total Freedom is one of the greatest advantages of long term travel in my mind & why we love it.

I am not saying you don't have freedom, but I think the worse part of the setting a record thing is the burden of it and how it impedes freedom to follow your own bliss as you travel.Completing the goal becomes more important than being able to fully follow you own heart.

That said, every trip is perfect, so I am sure yours is for your family. I just think people should think about what they want out of their long term travels and the pros and cons of the style they choose. Because I hate restrictions on freedom, I wouldn't want to be tied to any record making goal.
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I am always doing that
which I can not do,
in order that
I may learn how to do it.
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Mama-to-many

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  • Added on: September 17th, 2010
I ahve wuite a different take on "hard times". We purposely put our kids in some situations that would potentially be uncomfortable to them, difficult and even possibly undesirable - we wanted them to grow, to rise to the challenge of everything not being "nice" all the time. WE also ended up ins ome reasonably miserable situations through no fault of our own - imagine almost forty degrees, no shade, water run out, one hour of solid uphill hiking (gradient one in two), one hour of steep downhill, and then on for a total of 16 kilometers of walking....and you're only four years old. We woul never have expected that of a four year old and to be honest, for a good three hours she was MISERABLE. But oh so proud to do it all (especially having hiked 12km the previous day!) We forged a bond that day as I urged her onwards, singing memory verses at the tops of our lungs, chasing a melon down the track to take her mind off the difficulty, determinedly pressing on.
While one family might choose to pursue pleasure, others are going to prefer to take the harder road for the insights that can be gleaned, perhaps no other way.
Of course I do not know Family on BIkes personally, but I have not got the impression that they have chosen a route merely because of the record. And even if that were the case, on a really hard day when you are pushed to the extremes of what you think are your capabilities, WHATEVER gives motivation to keep going must be a desirable thing! Even if it is a record. ;) My overall impression of this family is that they have chosen to do some challenging things and have grown immensely through the experience. That doesn't strike me as too negative at all.
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WT

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  • Added on: September 17th, 2010
I see your point Mama-to-many and I agree that challenges can certainly be an advantage. I DO understand perfectly about the kind of bond and challenge that you are talking about.


Do you really think in 5 years of non stop family travel on 4 continents, 32 countries, over 200, 000 miles ( most overland) including deep into the Sahara and rural Turkey on just 23 dollars a day starting with a 5 year old child and two parents in their 50's ( the mom overweight and with a severe mobility challenge due to a crushed knee, broken femur former inury) had NO challenges at all?????

Come on!

http://www.soultravelers3.com/2008/08/sahara-dream.html

http://www.soultravelers3.com/2008/08/crazy-travel-ch.html?cid=126083512

[url]http://www.soultravelers3.com/2008/08/crazy-travel-ch.html?cid=126083512
[/url]
http://www.soultravelers3.com/2007/08/greece-italy-cr.html



My daughter has been amazing through this whole trip and can out walk, out bike, out think folks twice/thrice her age ( in several languages) from all she has learned and surmounted from our travels. At 5 she outwalked most adults all day all over cities like Paris, Amsterdam, Brugge, etc as well as the countryside. She has always carried her own luggage & maps our trips and is an expert on cargo ships, buses, sailboats, trains, planes, subways you name it.

I was not putting their trip down, just trying to separate the differences between a long term trip, breaking a record and taking big risks. They have gotten criticisms because of the big risks ( and quotes from her website about the suffering and promotion).

I think it is fantastic that they have spent this time together and exploring. I personally think that freedom is much more important than any record. I don't think any record is worth risking a child's life.

I certainly hope that you and Nancy have plenty of pleasure and luxury on your travels. ( I know the Vogles have also enjoyed free stays at many luxury hotels between biking so have had some creature comforts as well as challenges). I think pleasure and luxury is a good thing and comes in many forms.

There is not one way to travel but usually many ways that are all part of one trip. I don't think months of misery for the sake of a record is worth it as life is too short to spend it in misery. But I can appreciate that some might like that and that is fine with me as well.

ANYONE who does long term family travel on little money will have MANY challenges and will grow from them. Try breaking your arm in front of your young child, needing surgery in a foreign country. having a paralyzed dominant arm for 11 months and excruciating pain for months while traveling for instance!
[url]
http://www.soultravelers3.com/2009/09/- ... ency-.html [/url]

When mom can't move, dress, cook, eat, go to the bathroom or shower by herself for months and months, the whole family is affected deeply. We found ways to have joy & luxury despite the pain, many limitations and challenge. We've also grown immensely through our travels as every family does!
http://www.soultravelers3.com

I am always doing that
which I can not do,
in order that
I may learn how to do it.
PABLO PICASSO

nancy sv

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  • Added on: September 20th, 2010
I think luxury comes in many forms - we feel that our brand new Eddie Bauer 4-season tents are luxurious!! We have plenty of space, comfy mats and pillows... Luxury doesn't have to mean 5-star hotels.

As for the challenges - when we look back on the journey, those challenges are some of the most memorable parts of the journey. Those are the times when we had to dig deep and truly see what we were made of. We are not riding to the end of the world FOR THE RECORD. We are doing because we WANT TO DO IT. The record is, and always has been, an afterthought. Once we made the decision to ride from Prudhoe Bay to Ushuaia, that became our goal. If the boys get the record, that's great. But they will always know they CAN do it - because they DID it!

Truth be told, even if the record wasn't even in the picture, we would still be doing exactly what we're doing - we want to ride the Pan Am because we can.
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