Working in the travel industry has always given me access to amazing journeys, since my early 20’s I’ve been high tailing it around the planet gaining understanding and having incredible adventures, I am the first to admit how lucky I have been.
Once I had children I thought this may stop but instead of stopping us we simply changed our way of travel. Once they hit the ripe old age of 18 months off we went again, no longer with clothes in my back pack but children. My husband dragged the, now rather large, suitcase with our wares behind him and we travelled slower, but we still travelled.
Hands down the most incredible journeys have taken place for us in Latin America, for many it may seem like an adventurous to take children but it is no further than the USA and it is so rich in the important things in life, the food is incredible, the infrastructure is like it has never been before and the locals are so welcoming.
There is no better education than the real thing, you can read all the text books in the world about a location but there is nothing quite like experiencing it first hand for it to make complete sense. The Pantanal is one example of a location where we introduced the children to the incredible wildlife that can be seen in the Amazon and the wetlands of the Pantanal, our son’s fished for piranhas, watched toucans fly, spotted rare giant otters and capybaras and it was all in natures wonderland, no fences, no glass, no zoo, they saw how these creatures lived in harmony with nature. It was the perfect platform to understand how ecosystems work.
- Respect for the planet
Visiting wildlife in situ creates a deep understanding for the importance of our wilderness, it’s not an easy concept to grasp when we purchase our food from the supermarket and visit animals in zoos. But more than that, in locations such as Latin America we see traditional cultures still living 100% from the land and relying on natural supplies and conditions for basic survival. Exposing our children to this basic survival need and being able to explain the importance of our natural environs with a living example plants a very early seed of appreciation in the next generation and going forward we have ambassadors for our planet.
- Cultural Tolerance
Travelling to a country where you are the minority is the best way to help our children understand how foreigners must feel when they settle away from their home country and it helps to break down those stereotypical instincts of keeping distance. In Latin America visitors are welcomed with open arms and smiles, our children are quickly taught that skin colour and language are not barriers and they learn first-hand how good it feels to be welcomed when they are out of their comfort zone, going forward they adapt this cultural learning into their own and become far more tolerant, understanding and welcoming.
- Broadening horizons
Knowing that the world is bigger than their neighbourhood I agree is a privilege but if it is possible to show the kids this then it is a wonderful way for our kids to realise that life doesn’t stop at the end of the street, that employment opportunities are far and wide and, most importantly, that we are a global village and we need to look after each other.
- Family memories
Travelling with the family in Latin America has been one of the most rewarding experiences of our lives, we visited the Pantanal the Iguazu falls, Buenos Aires, Salta and Cafayate, everywhere we went was interesting, vastly different and memorable. By the time we hit this continent the kids were 3 and 6 and even the then 3 year old still holds firm memories of our time there, perhaps the first memories of his life? We often talk about the wonderful experiences we had the fascinating people we met and the interesting places we saw, it is an experience we can always draw on as a family and keep our memories personal. We’re heading back soon, the kids will be 6 and 9 this time we’ll visit the Galapagos, Amazon and Machu Picchu where they will be exposed to the theory of evolution, natural medicines, tribal cultures, ancient history and incredible geography. I’ll be taking the kids out of school for what is deemed ‘unjustified leave’ for this, my argument would be, you try and teach them the things I’m about to expose them to and have them remember, bet you can’t!
Written by Meg Hall
Author: Meg Hall
“During my first trip to Latin America I found myself travelling solo down the Amazon River. At the time I wondered if it was a good idea, in the end I had an experience that would change my life for the better as I found my personal boundaries had widened.”
Now having now experienced Chimu on the ground in both Antarctica on my own and in South America with my precious cargo, my two young sons, several times, I can hold my head high and say, “it is the only way to travel”. The only difficult decision to make is when to go! I cant wait to get back!