Im a totally inexperienced traveller who is absolutely itching for an adventure. I plan to study later this year so I feel like now is the time to go or I might not get a chance for a long time!
I would like any advice, tips, encouragement or stories you can offer to a single mum wanting to take my little boy to Thailand and really experience the culture.
I have contacted several volunteer agencies and applied but none of them seem to want to take on a volunteer with a child, I know there are plenty of things I could do like caring for children and helping out young mothers but I have had no luck thus far.
Am I dreaming? is it just too hard to take a small child traveling without doing the whole tourist thing? I need inspiration!
#1 smeves88 has been a member since 7/1/2013. Posts: 3
thousands of people do that and youll easily meet couples/mothers/pas with kids in tow.
Forget that volunteering-thats just a modern bent mindset that needs to adapt to how TH works. The ''real'' Thai culture will be a big disappointment for dreamers-better stick to what is presented as such to the normal 1st time tourist. I guess Thai mothers (also easy to contact in parks/playgrounds etc) will have more to teach in how to handle kids and more you as reverse.
#2 captainbkk has been a member since 16/2/2012. Posts: 472
I agree with captainbkk that you should probably forget the volunteering however (for starters, do a search of some of the threads on this forum about volunteering - the good, the bad and the ugly. Also, I don't really see how it could be too practical committing to volunteer work with a child in tow. I guess if you were committed enough it would be possible, but as a first time traveller, I'd suggest avoiding that scene altogether.
There is no reason why you need to stick to the 'touristy' route however. Thailand is a relatively easy place to travel around and some of the best experiences that I've had are OFF the tourist trail. In terms of where to go? It really depends on what your interests are... temples, cities, beaches, national parks....and whether you are looking for busy areas, or quiet and laid back? I'd suggest having a good scout around this forum in the Thailand section to just get a feel for what each area offers and what grabs your interest, then start planning from there. Having said that - DON'T overplan! I'm assuming that you are going for an extended period of time? If so, have a guideline of where you want to go, but keep it flexible. No need to book things in advance. This will give you maximum freedom to just take things one day at a time and not stress about keeping to a fixed itinerary (something that could be stressful at times with a child, I'd imagine!)
Caveat: I haven't travelled with a young child, I know others manage it successfully. I would imagine Thailand would be an easy place to do that, though, as long as you keep your journeys relatively short and take it at a slow pace. You will find that the Thai's love kids and will be fawning all over your child!
I don't know, I'd be reluctant to do this with a ten month old. They require full time care and attention (as you must know). You would have no support network out here, so what happens if you get sick? The tropics are home to all sorts of illnesses your body is not used to and doesn't have as much immunity towards. Not to mention getting sick from food...
"The ''real'' Thai culture will be a big disappointment for dreamers..."
Truer words were never spoken. But because of language and constant moving around, dreamers are often able to maintain the illusion and go back home telling folks how they experienced "real Thai culture" and how much better Thai culture is to their own.
It is one thing for you to travel overseas on your own or with other adults. But with a baby you have full time job just taking care of that kid. It is one thing if you eat some kind of crap food that makes you sick - but the baby has to have special food. A sick baby could end up a dead baby! Some kids don't take to flying at all. The air pressure gives them bad earaches. You also need a passport for your kid too! Young, single mothers with little babies traveling international you will be in for a whole lot of trouble. You don't get too many breaks flying either. You have to carry your own baby seat, diapers and wipes, powder, baby oil, spare food for the baby, plus your clothing.
Forget about partying and having a guy stay over for the night because you can never trust a random stranger with a little kid along. You have to be extra careful just being on a beach with a kid. They cook pretty fast out in the sun and it is hard for them to complain other than cry their little bodies off in pain. You can't stay in cheap crappy hostels like you would as a single woman traveling alone. You need your own room because you can't trust anyone in a hostel around a kid. Besides if the kid cries a lot some lowlife may throw it out the window too!
Visit by yourself. That way you can do whatever you want and no one back home is the wiser! But with a kid you have a full time job just keeping him alive, happy and safe. Yeah, some women do travel with their kids but most have husbands with them or the kids are older and can do some things for themselves.
Leave the kid with your parents or the kid's father. I imagine he is paying child support and has visiting rights. He may not want his kid leaving the country too. For some countries for you to get a passport for this baby you need both parents permission. This is to prevent baby abduction by one parent.
I hope this does discourage you from lugging a baby with you just for the heck of it like an extra purse or pair of shoes.
Hmm thanks sirhalberd for your totally negative and unhelpful post, I asked for advice and inspiration, not criticism and discouragement.
Really? my son needs a passport? NO ****!
I am going to assume that you have no children, or have never taken an active role in caring for them if you do.
First of all, My son is breastfed - this means I don't have to carry "special food" for him or worry about him consuming anything that will make him sick, it also solves the problem of earaches on a plane (I know this from experience).
As for struggling to carry my own baby seat, powder, baby oil and wipes - these are all unnecessary items anyway, problem solved.
Here in Western Australia we have some of the most amazing beaches in the world and one of the hottest climates too - thanks for your concern but I know how to look after my own child on the beach.
for some reason you seem to have made the assumption that I intend to go to thailand and act like a backpacker - sleeping around, staying in dingy shared accommodation and partying all night. Well, No - not even slightly interested, but thanks for your concern.
So once again, thanks for your insults but I'll be ignoring this post.
You have not discouraged me from taking my son with me, I am a devoted and very capable mother and I know we will be just fine.
Have a nice day.
#6 smeves88 has been a member since 7/1/2013. Posts: 3
We travelled a lot in Indonesia (where we live) Thailand and Cambodia when our daughter was very young (under one year). It was difficult and I wouldn't do it again. She was breastfed, so that wasn't so much an issue, but simple logistics (like no seatbelts in cars so no way to really travel safely) were of considerable concern.
We were not volunteering, but I can understand organisation's reluctance to take on a volunteer with a young child as, well, they can take up a lot of time and attention -- they may prefer to have volunteers who are able to commit themselves 100% to whatever they are doing. As busylizzy suggested, take a look at the volunteering section of the messageboard to get an idea on what is really going on.
My advice, if you want to experience the real" culture of Thailand would be to forget about the volunteering as it is another layer of complexity, and head to some less-popular destination -- for example Sangkhlaburi, Phetburi or Chanthaburi, all of which are within a handful of hours from Bangkok should there be some medical issue but all are "real Thai " towns where you could easily experience the day to day life that most Thais live.
And just hang out.
Hope that helps.
PS Not sure if you;re kidding re the passport No! bit (sarcasm difficult to pick up online sometimes...) but yes your child will need a passport!
#7 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,706
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On a more positive note - thanks to everybody else for your advice, I realize that volunteering might be a bit ambitious for now.
Somtam2000 - I was being sarcastic, I do realize that my boy needs his own passport and visa (have done a fair bit of research so i'm not completely in the dark) that post by sirhalberd just really pissed me off.
I am planning to not plan (if that makes sense), keeping my options open and enjoying the freedom to do what feels right, again good advice from Busylizzy.
Thanks again and keep it coming - I would really love to hear from somebody who has done this!
#8 smeves88 has been a member since 7/1/2013. Posts: 3
Sir Halberad I do not belive meant any offense. He was pointing out some practical issues. But for me, the big practical issue is if you come with just your son, you are on your own. If you get seriously ill (and it happens) who is going to take care of your son. I moved to Thailand when my daughter was nine months old. We had the entire family to support us and we were not moving around and it was still a challenge. Also, the transportation infrastructure here is not particularly safe (as Somtam pointed out). If it's my own old ass getting killed - oh well, I've lived a full life. But my little girl? I'm real careful there.
"Hmm thanks sirhalberd for your totally negative and unhelpful post, I asked for advice and inspiration, not criticism and discouragement."
Thank you Smeve 88.
Frankly, I don't care what happens to you because you are an adult! You fry yourself on the beach or get sick - no problem because you are an adult! There are many stupid women in this world who end up with children and do not care for them properly. As far as passports go - you go by whatever rules your own country has!
Guess you did some research since your opening line below:
"Im a totally inexperienced traveller who is absolutely itching for an adventure."
Your opening line makes you sound like an airhead who may risk her baby! There are stupid people who think they can carry a baby with them like a spare suitcase! Very glad you are so on top of things!
Since you have all of the answers already why are you on a travel forum?
Like I said above, I flatly don't give a flying flip what happens to you - if you do stupid things - your problem! It is the little baby that I don't want any harm to come to!
I would tell you good luck, but you would probably find fault with that too!
I would like to join in here because it seems to me that sirhalberd is either one of those travellers who, as he put it, would throw a screaming child out of a window, or simply does not have children. They way you are speaking is so rude and unjustified that you really shouldn't be allowed to post.
How dare you tell someone not to take their child on holiday? They are not your children, they are hers!
I have been planning my travels around asia since my daughter was about 1 year old, and whilst she is now 4, I would have no reservations about taking a child so young. They are more likely to sleep through a flight, there are vaccinations available if parents are worried about illness however there's not much a spot of calpol won't heal and all smart parents will get travel insurance for anything more serious. I leave in 4 months time with my daughter for an open-ended length of time.
I'll be packing sunscreen. And pre-booking hotels where necessary. We have passports and travel insurance. I've arranged to meet other families who will be travelling at the same time as me for some adult company. I won't be bringing men back to my hotel because I hardly think, and I speak for smeves88 as well, that that is the point of travelling! I'm not going on a girls holiday to bloody Kavos, where sex and alcohol is on the agenda.
Oh but get this...I have never travelled with my child long-term before (except holidays for a week to various european locations). Are you going to tell me I haven't thought of everything? That I shouldn't take my daughter away for some reason?
@Smeves88...GO FOR IT! If you want more support and information on families from ACTUAL EXPERIENCED FAMILY TRAVELLERS, not some obnoxious idiot on a forum, try escapesartistes.com and flashpackerfamily.com. If you're on facebook, search 'Families On The Move', it's a private group so you'll have to email one of the admins first and explain your situation to them, your travel plans etc and they'll add you. you can post on there and get real replies. there are many of threads/posts on here regarding this so get searching
P.S Well Done on the breastfeeding...shows idiots like this how easy it is to travel with a breastfed baby...and the more foreign food you eat, the easier it'll be to wean your baby onto it when they're ready for food! My daughter eats EVERYTHING!
They are more likely to sleep through a flight,
I supposed you have never been on a plane and sat through a 3 hour screaming/crying marathon....
there are vaccinations available if parents are worried about illness
Yes but infants do not get full coverage from vaccinations as the dosage is very low and they won't achieve coverage until they have had 2 or 3 boosters, and then they will still need adult injections to get near 'life-time' immunity.
however there's not much a spot of calpol won't heal and all smart parents will get travel insurance for anything more serious.
There are lots that calpol (paracetamol) won't fix but Thailand's health services is fairly good. Travel insurance is a must in my view If you can't afford it, you can't afford to travel.
OP - If you want to have a real adventure - do that by all means but probably not with a baby. If you want to bring hiim/her along, that's fine too. It just won't be the same adventure you will have when you are on your own.
I have to say I fall down with Hallberd here. If she wasn't alone, OK, different story. But if she has a serious illness who is watching that kid? And it's not like I don't have experience on this issue. I MOVED here with a nine month old. My two biggest concerns would be travelling from place to place, as road traval here with buses isn't the safest. That and illness would concern me. The idea of "go for it" sounds to my ears too cavalier when talking about an infant.
But surely a baby can be carried in a carrier and it doesn't sound like she's planning a long-term trip, so with the right travel insurance and the right planning, she can eliminate as many risks as possible! I would have no reservations about it, as I have friends who have moved abroad (thus fuelling my want to up and leave) who have small children and have not come across issues with it. Some people aren't lucky enough to have someone who can come travelling with them, like myself and I see it as a good bonding experience for myself and my daughter, although she is of course slightly older.
And I realise that sirhardberd may have serious concerns, but for one traveller to speak to a potential traveller in that tone, being so derogatory, I found to be downright rude and unnecessary!
I kind of thought she drew first blood there.
But the bottom line is this - when you have kids you limit your life until they are able to stand on their own two feet. At least if you're responsible. If you are a single parent, this is more true than ever, because the other person to lean on isn't there (hopefully some other family members can take up the slack). I travel some with my daughter now, but with my wife in tow. The only place I travel with my daughter without my wife is to the the in-laws, and that only rarely because my wife usually accompanies us. I see the risk of accident or illness (although a small risk) not worth taking.
I knew a man who wanted to work in Africa with an aide agency. He had an infant son. Nope, his kid wasn't going to grow up watching cartoons and living a spoiled life. He was going to be an international kid while his daddy was going to save the world. Three years latter his kid was dead and he was thrown out of the country he was trying to help. He never recovered. Psychologically it ruined him. When you are travelling to the exotic, and it's only yourself being placed at minor risk, that's fine. But when you have a small child... With two parents I'd say fine. But with one - I would not do it. As the saying goes "the juice ain't worth the squeeze."