Updated: Sep 20, 2019
"The bus is still moving as we race to clamber up onto its high footstep. It looks jam-packed, and I wonder why the gentleman in the pristine while shirt is so encouraging for our ascent. My husband grabs my 5 year old son's upper-arm and pulls him up onto the bus, looking back doubtfully towards my direction.
I hold firmly onto the fat, sweaty thighs of my 2 year old while I grasp towards my husband's outstretched hand (as well as many other keen hands aiding me in my climb...)
We fall into the bus like a folding fan, unsure as to how many others were collapsed as a result of our arrival. But hey, we were on! We made it - all of us!
The bus spurted, choked and then roared into haste, as it gathered astounding speed.
We paid the finely dressed man with cement-gelled hair 20 Sri Lankan rupees each for this journey into the unknown (we were only advised to take the Government-run blue buses but not told how to differentiate between destinations, so simply hoped or the best).
I wondered how this gentleman could spend all day collecting tickets in this heat, with all these people, and not have a single stain on his well-pressed shirt. This was indeed some kind of secret all western mothers should be made aware of...
We weaved ourselves deeper back into the blackhole bus. Smiling faces beamed towards us with brazen curiosity. Hands fell upon my daughter's red hair, toothless grins broke through furrowed lips and weathered hands fondled tattered rupee notes on laps.
The heat was suddenly made bearable from the lack of glass in the window panes (plus of course the sheer speed the bus was reaching).
We sat down in the back, where no one else is sitting - the amount of space due to some unknown superstitious custom / some danger we are about to be made aware of / or perhaps, simply by pure luck.
We rested in this experience while the sun anchored into the west, dipping into Indian ocean, and radiating majestically through the swaying palm trees.
My son brushed away his tousled, sun-kissed hair from his face and rested his head out onto windowpane, the breeze cooling his sweaty scalp. My daughter, hypnotised from the jostle and commotion, sank her eyelashes to meet the horizon of her fat cheeks, and then fell asleep abruptly.
Such a big, beautiful world out there. So much life happening. Such contrast to the monochromes and deep hues of the Nordics. Such perspective in this moment. To feel fully alive is to feel a moment just as it is, without any desire for it to be different.
And in that bus, I felt eternally grateful to be fully awake to the perfection of this unfiltered experience."
Sez Kristiansen, The Inspired Mama (coming out Nov '19)
The greatest love affair I've had in my life (apart from the dashing Danish man I live with) is travel. The kind of travel that comes from being lost - both in heritage and in soul.
When I became a mother and moved to my husband's home in the Nordics, I had spent very little thought on whether I would keep adventurous travel as part of my life - because of course I would, it was who I was and what I did.
But inevitably, reality snuck in, and I realised the free-spirited nature of how I used to travel needed a few adjustments to accommodate for children. All good, wholesome learning curves that all mothers go through, like discovering the skill of acquiring a positive mindset, simple endurance during hard times, planning and research, compromise, mindfulness so as to not miss the meaning in the small moments, and mostly, letting go of all expectation.
However, in my 'new mom state' I began to let in some well-meaning advice from all directions, and it not only made me question my ability to travel adventurously, but made me doubt the deeper voice within that called me to live a different kind of life.
Why travel long-distance with children so young? Children don't remember the travel and it's expensive! Wouldn't it be better to get an all inclusive over summer where they can just play in the warm pool - it's about ‘them’ anyway and it won't cost much!
I chewed on that logic for a while. I tried to let it sit there, to see what that kind taste that type of travel had - but it churned my stomach, like eating a 12 hour old egg at an all-day buffet, and my Spirit repelled it with such inner disagreement that it simply left my body through some spiritual valve - never to be allowed in again.
Unchartered travel is what I have spent much of my 20's doing. It is where I still check-in with myself in my 30's and how I imagine spending my career writing from its abundance of inspiration. It is essentially my home.
I grew up in several different countries with a mix of heritages from Scottish to Eastern European (with most family living in Southern Africa), and there was only ever one certainty to my life; travel. I travelled with my father‘s work, with his ambitions to better our lives out of Africa, but I also traveled because I grew up with people who had never lived in one place for very long and it was natural to uproot. (read more via the bio here...)
So, with gypsy-genes and a questionable lack of conformity, I decided that on this subject of travel in motherhood, I am not willing to compromise.
And yes, I would consider this type of selfishness one of the most vital acts of self-care in motherhood.
With the sacredness of family travel firmly ingrained in both mine and my husband's values, we have learned many mindset and lifestyle hacks along the way, which makes adventurous travel with young kids, life-enhancing.
And this is inspiration for you, the parent, who will be the ones who capture your child's young life through the memories of new experiences, and the bond that grows from being together in this unique way. After all, imagine your child hitting an important milestone in an place where you were away from the busy-ness of work and chores - in a moment you weren't distracted - in a place you were full awake to?
As anyone who is familiar with the content of this website knows - I am an advocate for prioritising the holistic well-being of mothers, without shame, because when the 'mothership' is in balance and harmony, so are the lives of all those who keep in her company.
So this one's for you, adventurous mama.
1. Keep life simple at home
One of the ways I find it easy to travel with two young children is to keep my life simple at home. It prepares me to value experiences for what they are and without preference, judgement or expectation.
Adventurous travel is rich with many different types of experiences and it requires that the parent has tools for turning stress into a calm in order to deal with the more challenging aspects of physical travel, like delays, crowds and force majeure.
When you already practice simplicity through minimalism, meditation or mindfulness at home, it assures that you will be more prepared for the inevitable during travel.
Keeping life simple at home means you are more likely to keep it simple 'out there' and instead of expecting grand experiences, you make the most of the more meaningful and profound ones, which come in the form of your child trying out something new for the first time, their bravery and accomplishment in tasting something new, their ability to see the good in people, and their lack of judgement.
As a rather minimal family now (thank you, Scandinavia...) we do not have digital devices at home (yet!) and this makes getting on a long-haul plane for the next 28 hours bearable, because our kids get to be entertained with something that’s new to them. You can also do this by packing only the most essential comforts for your child, who will not miss the mass of entertainment of home in favour of new experiences.
2. Consolidate your holidays
If it's at all possible with your work, the consolidation of yearly holidays into one big holiday is an incredible way to experience more of a destination.
When you only have a couple of weeks at most to get away, it's very difficult to choose destinations that are long-distance. Even if you live close to deep wilderness, towering mountains or secluded beaches, you rarely have the time to truly get into the rhythm of travel when you know you'll be back at home in a week.
This to me, is real travel - when you get to integrate yourself into the country and its customs which is only found through spending time getting to know it. This happens when you get to spend time with local people, immersing yourself into 'island-time' - or 'mountain/forest/snow-time' etc.
It is hard to suddenly step away from your busy life into one that is full of slow experiences when you don't have the time to fully relax into it.
Once a year during the month of February, we escape the Nordic's most depressing and dark month to warmer climes. It allows us to travel around a country rather than be a passing tourist to it. Our summers are also spent discovering the country we live in and surrounding landscapes that connect us to my husband's heritage. We also get to watch a lot of National Geographic and keep the curiosity alive during our ‘static’ time at home.
3. Pick places that you want to support economically
Unsustainable-tourism has caused some pretty detrimental affects on the world and now we have more accessibility and more affordability to travel to exotic destinations than ever before.
Almost everywhere is geographically available now and it is worth considering not only about what you want to get out of your travels, but how you will be able to contribute towards certain cultures and economies.
Our collective consciousness is awakening to how we live our lives and what impact we have on our world, so becoming more aware to how you interact with a local culture, where you stay and what you buy is an essential sustainable practice when travelling.
To find out more about the simple was you can travel more sustainably, follow this link to the National Geographic webpage - and when sustainably traveling with young kids, remember you are teaching them about how the world should be taken care of from now on, and in their lifetime, so inspire them with a more caring and conscious way of traveling.
I wrote a poem about the way I love to travel and hope it resonates with you:
Leave little pieces
of your soul
in the salted spirals
of the nautilus,
under oriental moons,
with barefooted children
and in the palms
of those more wise
from the weight of awe."
An extract from Healing HER
4. To fly - Or not to fly...
We are all becoming much more conscious towards the way we live our life within the fine balance of nature - and flying is certainly the least sustainable way to travel. So what are the options to get to a destination and can the travel in fact be the journey?
Train-lines run all over world, with some exceptional ones in Southern Europe, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, California, China and Norway, and and is one of the most enjoyable travel experiences we have had with our young children, providing us most rest and restoration.
There is a slowness to train travel - a simpler way of being and spending time together. There are many options that encourage the actual journey to be the experience rather than the destination.
5. Fit in time for spiritual trips
Nothing gets you in touch with a culture like it's spiritual history.
Like the Bali Gods, the Pyramids of Paratoari, the rock monasteries of central Sri Lanka and the Maori mountains of New Zealand. Teaching your children about the sacredness of life starts by showing them places that have deeply rooted customs and spiritual beliefs.
As my daughter was too young to understand, I took my son to see a Buddhist monk while we were living in Sri Lanka. We had a small ceremony where the head monk tied a singing bracelet to his wrist and chanted blessings of good health and a joyful life. Although my son, (5 years old at the time) didn't understand the exact meaning of the ceremony, he was blown away by the 'specialness' of the experience, remembering the monk's draping red robe, the smell of jasmine incense, the beautiful but untouchable ancient scrolls locked behind a glass cabinet.
He remembered it was something sacred, something different to the rest of life and he wanted to come every night onwards with me to the pagoda to light incense for prayer.
When his bracelet broke a few month later, he cried unconsolably. Which also gave me the chance to teach him about the transient nature of life and how everything passes. Spiritual places inherently hold more ambience and emotion for children, allowing them to feel the mystery of life for themselves.
6. Travel is not about courage. It's about curiosity.
There is a lot going on right now that discourages us from venturing out into the world, to keep safe and within an environment we know.
However, most of what we know is sensationalised and out of context, ignoring the fact that fear has been used as a weapon since the beginning of human history.
Beyond the usual precautions taken when choosing a destination (like theft, areas to avoid, safety at night, government warnings) consider a place with curiosity rather than fear.
Growing up Johannesburg as a young child, I still feel the fear my parents constantly had for our safety, but now I am married to a Dane, who leaves his children to sleep outside in strollers - so I have had to learn the difference between rational and irrational fear.
Travel is an immersive experience and is the soil to where the most profound emotional, spiritual and personal development can take place. It's not so much about where you travel, but how you travel and with what state of mind - especially when you have young children.
I know I want to show my children this world, in a different way to the charter holidays, which might comfort me when I'm older - not only to open them up to their earth-inheritance, but for the woman I promised to honour many years ago.
I hope this has been of resonance with you and your own journey through motherhood and wanderlust.
May you keep what sets your soul alight sacred in motherhood, and connect with me if you share the same beliefs!
Inspired Mama, Intentional living, conscious awakening & wanderlust in motherhood, by Sez Kristiansen will be released in November 2019. Join the subscribers list and learn more about my journey to write this book via a monthly newsletter!
This month, I have worked on creating a FREE FREEDOM CHEAT SHEET, that you can access through your inbox. Let me know if it helps you access more freedom in everyday life!
Healing HER, poetry that nourishes the soul, by Sez Kristiansen reached #1 this week on Amazon!
The new edition is out so READ THE INTRODUCTION HERE...
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