Travel with Kids: Facing My Fears in Europe

I am about to embark on another solo traveling mom trip. The last time I took off by myself was when Dek was 20 months old. We went to Hong Kong and Shenzhen, China for a business trip with my job.

I didn’t have time to get scared. The trip came up so fast I just went into survival mode. I had to keep the fears at bay or I would not survive.

As we prepare to leave for Europe next week I have looked in the mirror more than once and thought about what I am attempting to do. I am about to bring a 5 month old and a 3 year old to another continent…by myself. Am I scared? Insane?

The simple answer is yes.

Of course I’m scared. I’m not crazy (well maybe a little). So many things could go wrong.

Dek could wander off in the airport by himself. I could lose him at the train station. We could have endless potty accidents and I might not have enough fresh pants to mop him up. What if he sleeps horribly like last summer and we are all miserable because of it? He could put on an impromptu performance of “The Demon-Possessed Toddler” while we are trying to check out a church’s interior.

And then there is his little brother Ty. He could have horrible ear pain on the plane. He could scream for 12 hours every night because of teething. He could break out in a fever and I won’t be able to find acetaminophen in the country I am staying in because I don’t speak the language. He could refuse to nurse and I won’t have any bottles or formula handy.

It could all happen. And it might.

I could easily let all of this overwhelm me. I could let fear hold me back from taking a trip I have dreamt about for over a year. I could crawl into my shell and just wait until the boys are older or shorten our trip and wait until Mike can join us.

I could, but I won’t. That is not who I am.

Yes, this trip is scary, but you know what, so is being a parent. So many things can go wrong every day. Thankfully they usually don’t.

I also have a plan.

We are staying with friends every step of the way. If the kids get sick, our friends already have pediatricians and medication handy. They know where the nearest hospitals are and can be an extra set of hands if needed.

I’ve also done this before. Although I only had one kid, I surpassed all my own expectations when I took Dek to China with me on a business trip. It was exhausting, but we actually had a lot of fun. I got to explore one-on-one with my little man.

This time I’ll have two boys to show me the world. Ty may be strapped in the Ergo or in a stroller for a lot of the trip, but even he will find things that interest him. He already gets me down to his level.

Ty is also at that all-important milestone of rolling over. He might just do it while we are abroad. What parent wouldn’t remember that!

I’m going to grab my fears and insecurities and chuck them out the window.

I also have resources at my disposal. I am part of an amazing group of family travel bloggers, some of whom are single parents traveling the world with their kids. Many have traveled through countries that are harder to navigate than Western Europe. They have survived, not always without struggle, but they have no regrets and aren’t returning home anytime soon.

Check out The Dropout Diaries post The Truth About Parenting and International Travel with a Toddler.

If they can do it, I can definitely do it. If you think I’m looking at it as a challenge you are so right. 

I could let fear overwhelm me. I could let it ruin my trip. Or I could acknowledge that things are never going to be perfect, do my best to protect my children and keep them healthy. I’ll also be praying a whole lot and trust that all of my planning was not in vain.

  • I’ve thought about every scenario.
  • I’ve got a game plan to tackle Dek to the ground if he tries to run off.
  • I’ve got infant and children’s Tylenol permanently packed in a plastic bag to go through airport security.
  • I could probably teach myself to say “hospital” in the four languages I’ll be encountering. Or maybe just write it on a card and put it in my wallet. Yeah that might be better than counting on my brain to function correctly in a crisis.

I can prepare as much as possible, but as some point I will just have to stop and trust that I am a great mom and I can handle this. After all, I can manage to get to the grocery store, and sometimes that is the toughest adventure in my week.

Now I’ll just be heading to a grocery store in another country. Think Dek will keep his shoes on there? Yeah, I doubt it too.

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written by Keryn Means

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10 comments

  1. I’m so excited for you and can’t wait to glean tips from your trip! We’re considering stepping out of our North American comfort zone next year or in 2014. I’ll need those tips and I know you’ll have some good ones!

  2. Mom

    For every world-traveling parent, there is probably a nervous Nelly grandmother in the background whispering all her anxieties to her child. What has helped me most is that you allow me to do this and then you share each plan you have for managing the unexpected. It does relieve some(not all!) of the anxiety. Then, I can sincerely follow your adventures, while praying to a loving God to guide and protect you. I am so proud of your adventurous spirit and look forward to reading about your travels. And…maybe some time soon, I can tag along!

  3. More Book suggestions: ebooks Winnie the pooh, 100 acre wood, Paddington bear ( all probably available as ebooks from the Seattle library and set in one of your stops:)); audiobooks-Skippy John jones series, Thidwick the big hearted moose, the Mountain and the Molehill, and Little Hoot. Have a great trip!

  4. Nothing will go ‘perfect’ but it’s in the ‘imperfect’ moments that you’ll make wonderful memories as a family. You will look back and laugh heartily at the time your kids did this or that interesting thing. So no, you are not crazy, you are totally blessed to be able to do this. I look forward to reading about your European adventure!
    Cheers,
    Char

  5. You’re not crazy. I was somewhat scared about flying with the kids without their dad from Malaysia to Texas and back (each way: 3 flights, 20 hours in the air, 7 hours of layovers). And my youngest kid is 7 years old! Of course, once I got there, I’d be on home turf, so that part wasn’t worrisome. I think my biggest fear is that I get horrible airsickness, and it’s hubby who cares for the kids while I’m huddled in my seat. In the end, everything worked out fine. You’ll do great!

  6. Yes you are crazy. There I said it. But I think you are also brave, adventurous and in for some hard times and really really good times!!!! Can’t wait to read all about them!

  7. You are right! It is not going to be easy! But that just proves what a brave, courageous mom you are! It will totally be worth it, even if the whole trip is a bust, just to prove to yourself that you CAN do it! Can’t wait to hear it all!

  8. You’re not crazy. It sounds like you’re as prepared as you ever could be. I think it will all go swimmingly. Those boys are lucky to have such a brave and adventurous mother!!!

  9. Nicole

    What an amazing experience. So impressed you did it!

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