I’m happy to publish this article, written for Tiny Expats by travel enthusiast and fellow blogger, author of Selim Family blog, Samiya. Their family seems to be always on the move, getting from one fascinating adventure or onto another, their kids always going with them. You can read about their experiences here:
We were at Barrington Court, Somerset, England in January this year. Our 7 year old daughter had joined a ballroom dance demonstration/lesson here and the instructor asked Shama if she had taken any dance classes before. I think she was expecting a yes or no and wasn’t quite prepared for Shama’s monologue into why she had to give up Ballet as she and her family were driving in a car to Bangladesh from Sheffield, but then changed plans and were backpacking Asia, but only to cancel that and decide to travel to New Zealand for a year. All the other ‘students’ – mostly adults – listened to her with sympathy and concern whilst glancing our way now and then. I can only guess what they were thinking.
Within a span of 9 months, since we did a 3 week road trip in Europe last year, our life plans changed several times and there was a lot of uncertainty in the air. Perhaps it wasn’t necessary – we had a comfortable life in Sheffield, we had a house, jobs, family, kids loved their friends and being in school. But the need for change, the need to travel, the need to experience new horizons, have new adventures, and meet new people is in my blood. It’s in Ashique’s blood. We started as a couple travelling in Asia 11 years ago now. Getting married and having kids only changed the geography of our travels. Instead of Asia, the past 10 years we travelled extensively around Europe and North America, with England as our base. Bangladesh is thrown in there as well. And now we are exploring Oceania, slow travel through New Zealand, followed by Australia.
I had wondered how the kids would adjust with this big move. Not that travel is anything new to them – they have both been to 19 countries – some several times over. But England had always been the base, had always been the home they came back to after all the travelling. The few months before we left, they actually questioned for the first time why we were leaving and had to move. They didn’t want to leave their friends, they didn’t want to go to a new school, Shama was in tears at having to choose stuffed animals to take and which ones to leave behind. I must admit, I felt guilty at times.
We received several concerned enquiries about taking Shama out of England after what she has been through having Moyamoya and what she still lives with today. We have been asked how we risk travelling with her so much, how we deal with the unknown and uncertainty. Our answer is always the same – our need to enjoy life to the fullest and travel has been fuelled further by what happened to her (obviously her safety is priority and we are sensible where we travel.) Life is short, we want to do the things we feel passionate about, and we enjoy it best when we are travelling as a family.
I look at them now, thriving in their new school, making new friends, loving the new places we are going to in New Zealand, especially all the outdoor activities like sea kayaking, fishing, swimming in the sea everyday! Everyday of our first month here has been an adventure and we have all enjoyed it thoroughly!
How do they cope?
Our children, and I personally think all children, are super adaptable. They embrace the world with open arms, they have very little inhibition. One might say not all children are like that, some children are more cautious than others, some are more introverted than others, and that’s normal. But children are not born fussy, they are not born distrusting and fearing the unknown. We as parents tend to install our worries and fears onto them, we project our prejudices on them, and I am not here to point fingers at anyone who doesn’t expose their children to all elements of nature and world culture – Not everyone has the same privilege as we do working as a doctor and a marine ecologist to fund our travels. Secondly it doesn’t even appeal to many to travel so much and not have a permanent base. To each his own…but at the end of the day – happy parents make happy kids :-)
In our case, Ashique and I are happiest when we are in the greater outdoors, we tend to enjoy mostly nature related travels, having fun adventures, spending ALL our money on travels, living in the present and doing all that we want to do NOW, in this span of time we are alive and healthy.
I would love to say the kids feel the same way, but they don’t, not all the time at least! Yes they enjoy when we are doing fun activities but they are not fans of moving so much, of ‘doing’ all the time. They complain why we have to ‘go somewhere’ But we do it anyways, and there hasn’t been a travel day yet when they didn’t enjoy hiking through new forests, making friends, experiencing different cultures and cuisine. The day will come when they don’t really want to hang out with their parents all the time. When they go off to University, Ashique and I look forward to continuing on our own, preferably on a motorbike :-)
If I thought of my desires only, I would head to South America next, do one or two years slow travel there before moving on to Africa. BUT reality is after Oceania, kids want to settle down ‘for a long time’ do it’s a matter of having to choose where to set base. We have been dreaming about moving to Bangladesh for the longest time now. The kids are quite used to the idea even though it’s nothing like what they have ever experienced before! And the way I see it, we can use Bangladesh as base to travel around Asia again, this time with the kids. Just the thought of being India and Nepal again, exploring new places like Burma and Bhutan, gets me all excited about being in Asia again :-)
So very likely Asia is where we will be headed next! Back to our roots (Ashique and mine) and for the kids to set up new roots in Bangladesh. If you think we got resistance when we wanted to leave England move to New Zealand, can you imagine how much grief we get for wanting to move kids to Bangladesh! We don’t know if it will work out, but we trust ourselves to do what feels right for the family and I have faith the kids will adapt to the drastically different way of life there. And if not, we will move on, that’s the beauty of having such an open flexible attitude to life and travel.
It is hard to believe we left England nearly two months ago now, and it’s been one month already that we have been in New Zealand! Our travels in 2015 led us through Thailand and Australia and it’s now been a glorious 30 days in New Zealand, travelling around the Bay of Islands, West Auckland and enjoying our home by the sea. Look forward to 11 more months in this country, its natural beauty and outdoors never cease to amaze me and we have only touched the surface!
I now have more confidence in my children, in their ability to adapt and embrace the new, their world knowledge and experiences keep growing every day and right now, they are happy. I don’t think these kids have it too bad having such wanderlusting parents..Do you?
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