Monday, July 9, 2012

International trips with kids?

Several people have been asking me recently about whether or not Pooh will be going with us to Guatemala. My friends there want to meet him, and I want him to meet them and experience life in Guatemala. Normally, I'm all in favor of taking my kid anywhere we go, and he's pretty well-behaved in general, with the exception of the occasional temper tantrum.

Despite his good behavior and our desire for him to enjoy experiences outside of the US, we made the decision that for this trip, we are not going to take him. Don't flame me for it. This was not a decision made lightly, and it has little (though possible a little) to do with security issues. Instead, it was about the logistics of traveling with a three-year-old when only one of us speaks Spanish, and when we are all trying to figure out the way to get here and there. Here are our top three reasons why Pooh will stay home and have a great time with family and daycare while P-Daddy and I make a run for the border:

Reason #1: The surface purpose for this trip is to attend a conference on Mayan languages. It will take place in a relatively small town that I've never visited before and I'm just not familiar with it at all. I can't bring myself to subject Pooh and P-Daddy to being holed up in a hotel room for 4 days with no guarantee of either tv or internet. I can pretty much guarantee that there will be no kids play parks and likely not even a McDonald's with a play area. And because it's a small town, I assume there will be few English speakers, so P-Daddy would be exploring with Pooh without being able to communicate well. While he's happy to do that on his own, it would not be a comfortable situation for any of us with Pooh along. Mostly because he would become a crazy child sitting in the cantina while P-Daddy hangs out...

Reason #2: The underlying purpose of this trip is a reconnaissance mission to check out The Property and the surrounding town. If we can, we plan to walk the property several times to see what kinds of things are already growing, and to check out prime spots for things like a coffee patio and Mayan sauna. While he's a champion walker, Pooh would want to wander all over and explore on his own, and until we've had a chance to check out the area and any potentially unsafe areas, we don't want him running willy-nilly all over the place. I also want to wander extensively through the market to get an idea of the cost of food items these days. My experience in Guatemalan markets is that they are generally crowded, but there are tons of interesting people and things to look at. I would need to keep a very careful eye on Pooh (though he'd be easy to spot with his white-blond hair!), and this would defeat the purpose of being in the market to start with. Besides, halfway through the market, he'd have to pee, which leads us to the next reason...

Reason #3: The bathrooms! I've been in some pretty nasty places in the US, at fairs, amusement parks, rest stops along the highway, etc. But these places don't compare to what you'll find in some public restrooms in Guatemala. At Pooh's age, he is simply not able to wait and wait and wait until we find a clean bathroom. And yes, I know that in Guatemala it is perfectly acceptable for males of all ages to whip it out and pee anytime and anywhere. But that's not really the point. The point is (and this is really Reason #3), Pooh is only 3, and there are obstacles to overcome with kids that age that would not be as evident with an older child. We are just not convinced that at this age, Pooh would really get a lot out of this trip, and the logistical problems of traveling with a three-year-old would outweigh any advantage the trip would provide him.

I say all that to say that this trip is, in essence, a business trip, not a vacation. If this trip were pure vacation, we'd take him for sure. But it's not. And he'll have many opportunities in the years to come to experience what life is like in Guatemala!


  1. I hope you guys have a great and safe trip. Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are basically the same if you ask me, I go to El Salvador to visit family. I know you guys are gonna have a great time. Buena Suerte!!!!

  2. Thanks! We definitely plan for a great trip, even without the kiddo along!