Why I took my daughter on a trip she’ll never remember

Why I took my daughter on a trip she’ll never remember

Hardly anyone has ever heard of the sleepy little beach town of Khanom, Thailand. From the beach you can see the island of Koh Samui, a hugely popular tourist destination that attracts more than two million visitors each year. For a month, we were making our home in Khanom. Our little family with three kids ranging in age from 6 to 1, spent our days swimming in the ocean and cruising around town on our motorbike.

At a local hangout we met Toon and arranged for him to take us to Khao Sok National Park. This was a big excursion, which included a lot of time in Toon’s car, but we would see some of the stuff we’d come to the other side of the world to see. We’d ride elephants, canoe down rivers, and sleep in the floating houses on the dam.

Now, back home in America, I look back at those two days as two of the best of our time in Thailand. Heck, those were two of the best days of my life.

After we emerged from the National Forest where we were without wifi or cell coverage for a few days (gasp) I posted this photo on Facebook of me with my 1-year-old daughter Abigail with the following caption. It got a lot of “likes” but I feel like I need to elaborate.

Clark-and-Abby

I know she’ll never remember this trip. That’s not the point. I want our travels to shape the woman she becomes.

We’ve loaded our kids up on planes, trains, and automobiles to far corners of the world for a reason. I know my daughter Abigail will never remember this recent trip to Thailand or any of the other trips we take in the next few years. That’s not the point, though. I want our travels to shape the woman she becomes. I want her to see, before she is able to develop an idea of what’s “normal,” that America isn’t the world. I want her to see people living differently than we do in America and speaking different languages and eating different foods. That’s no judgement of America. I just want my kids to understand the world is bigger, and if I have the power to expose them to these things (and I do), I want them to see this while their view of the world is still very much being formed.

There is another reason, though, that we travel with our young kids.

My daughter will never remember this trip, but

I will.

I will remember carrying Abigail through one of the oldest rainforest in the world. I will remember trying to console her as our long-tail boat zipped across the dam. I’ll remember her delight when she saw the pink dolphin rise to surface of the ocean. I’ll remember how the first time she ever swung on a big kid swing by herself was at a park in Bangkok. I’ll remember the way she treated beggars on the street and our hotel desk staff exactly the same. I’ll remember trying to hold her tightly and keep her asleep while we transferred from a ferry to a car. I’ll remember her riding on me in the baby carrier while I cruised across town on my motorbike.

This is our scooter. Our only transportation unless we call a cab. It only cost about $1/day to drive it!

This was our scooter in Khanom, Thailand and how Abby got around with me. Our only transportation unless we called a cab and it only cost about $1/day to drive it!

There were times while we were in Thailand — several times actually — when we would think about doing something and we’d say, “That’d be great if it were just us and the kids, but it would be a nightmare with Abby…” Sometimes we decided to do it anyway, sometimes we skipped the outing altogether, and sometimes just Monica or me would do something with the kids while one of us stayed with Abby.

I’m happy for all those times, though. It’s important for the kids to see that Abby is a part of our family and that we need to consider her needs as we plan our activities and there’s no activity I missed in Thailand that compares to being my kids’ dad.

One night I was walking back to our place on the island of Koh Tao and saw this romantic little restaurant. I thought about how much I’d enjoy going to dinner there with my wife. That just wasn’t in the cards, though. Not on this trip, not with the kids in tow. But then I thought about how un-unique that romantic little restaurant really was. I’ve been so many romantic little restaurants with my wife. What we did earlier that day — snorkeling and watching the kids point out different species of fish in utter amazement — now that was unique! That was special.

We’ve been traveling with our kids longer than any of them can remember. Our son Jackson, now six years old, is on his second passport. When we’re talking with friends they’ll often say things to us like, “I can’t imagine traveling the way you do with young kids.” This is all our kids have ever known, though. This is just what they do.

Jackson and Emery have figured out how to navigate a metro system and how to hail a taxi. They’re figuring out the world. Abby is too.

So am I.

I am happy to do it with them. What a great adventure.

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You may also want to check out our favorite photos from Khao Sok National Park or Monica’s narrative on riding elephants and sleeping in floating houses at Khao Sok.

For more on our three months in Thailand check out our Thailand Trip 2014 Tag Page.

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Hi, I’m Clark.  My wife Monica and I write and publish this blog.  I’m excited you’ve stuck with us long enough to make it all the way to the bottom of this post.  I need you to know something…

I don’t have life figured out. I’m on a journey.  I am trying to live very intentionally and trying to arrange my life so that it reflects what I value most.

We view life as a great adventure — that’s why we never really got too down even when we were moving into her parents garage.  On this blog you’ll read about many of our traveling adventures as well as how to live a life of your own design. You can like us out on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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Get my book, unWorking: Exit the rat race, Live like a millionaire, and be happy now, available on Amazon. You can also read the intro, prologue, and detailed chapter descriptions for free at unWorkingBook.com.
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