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Confessions of a Thirty Something Traveller

I often think about my love of travelling and how having children would have implications on that.

So when Torre DeRoche of Fearful Adventurer and author of the book Love with a Chance of Drowning posed a question I felt compelled to answer it.

Torre asked:

If given the chance, what adventure would you embark on despite your fear?

Torre set two conditions: 1. It inspires you, 2. It scares you.

Hmm… What adventure inspires me and scares me? There are adventurous things that scare me – like flying or heights (no bungee jumping for me thanks or doing something like this), but I wouldn’t say those things inspired me (although I am in awe of those who do them). Ok, back to the drawing board.

I still have plenty of adventures I’d like to undertake, but whilst they inspire me, none of them really scare me.

Fearful Confession www.heleninwonderlust.co.uk

To my friends, I’m the brave one.

Whilst I’m not an adrenaline junkie, I love to travel the world by myself and have no qualms about taking long solo journeys and doing adventurous things like white water rafting (that’s my legs there on the right), hanging out with Great White Sharks (eek) and climbing big ass mountains (puke propelling myself all the way up).

WhenTwo Worlds Collide: A Confession www.heleninwonderlust.co.uk

But I’ve been hiding a secret. ..

There is one adventure that I am afraid of. I’m in total awe of those who have done it. My mum’s done it, many of my friends have done it, in fact billions of women have done it. What am I talking about?

Having children. The thought of having kids completely terrifies me. Being a parent is the ultimate responsibility. I love kids. In fact I’ve worked with them for much of my adult life. Nothing inspires me more than seeing a young person develop. I’ve worked with children all around the world and their natural ability to play, use their imaginations and find joy in the simplest of things makes me happy. But to have my own?

Currently when I travel, it’s only really me that I have to worry about, so I do travel to destinations that are pretty much deemed non ‘kid friendly’. Not that I think travel stops completely when you have kids, quite the opposite.  In fact, I can imagine that travelling with children gives you a wonderful new perspective on the world.

But I would have to moderate some of the types of travel I like to do, at least for a while. I mean, I couldn’t take a child along with me whilst I’m working as an overland leader for two months in Africa, could I? But then I know I wouldn’t want to leave them at home either. I read a post that kind of explained my fears, from the ‘other side’ when Christine Gilbert wrote, The Slow Death of my Dream to Sail the World. Even without children, I understand this.

Fearful Adventure www.heleinwonderlust.co.uk

But it’s not just the travelling thing. I’m an auntie. Those of you who have nieces or nephews will know what a joy it is. My little niece is the most beautiful little girl and I love her with all my heart. I’m generally referred to as ‘Crazy Auntie Helen’, which I love. She has brought so much joy and inspiration into my life, it’s unreal. I can’t bear the thought of something happening to her, so I can’t even imagine how that must feel with your own children. I think I’m scared of loving another person SO much.

The thing is, I missed the twenty-something traveller boat. In fact I didn’t discover long-term travel until I was 29 and never would have expected my life to take such a turn, but it did and that’s the exciting thing!

I do regret (sorry I know us adventurers aren’t supposed to admit regret) that I didn’t start travelling at a younger age, purely for the fact that there’s so much to see and so little time. But I also love being a slightly ‘older’ traveller, I grab experiences with both hands because I know how precious the time is. I’ve spent the last 33 years relatively footloose and fancy free (kind of). But if I had children? Well life would inevitably be different and I’m scared of what that would mean.

Being older comes with complications though. I know 33 is not old in the slightest, but there is a time window on having children. I have time left, I know that. But another twenty years would be nice. A lot of my friends of my age are having kids, people like to constantly remind me of the fact that I’m “not getting any younger”, and ask “when’s it going to be your turn?” and tell me that I need to stop travelling and “settle down”. My husband wants kids, and I do too, I really do, eventually. But I just wish I had been a bit more productive with my younger years. But hey, that’s life. We do what we think is best at any given time and then we must stand by our choices and give them the energy they truly deserve. No half measures.

A Big Kid www.heleninwonderlust.co.uk

Change is inevitable. Having children would undoubtedly change me, my view of the world and the way I travel it. If I am blessed enough to have children of my own one day, it wouldn’t stop me travelling, but it might change the way I travel… at least for a while. I’m not quite ready yet, and I might never be.

I’d be stepping into the unknown, like I’ve done so many times before, just with a lot more responsibility this time. It’s all about adapting, learning and  making the most out of whatever situation you are in. I’m a traveller, I’m good at that. And being a parent could be the ultimate adventure, not something to be scared of. Just a different type of adventure.

About Author

I'm a travel blogger and tour operator with a passion for Africa travel. I love the great outdoors, going on epic trips around the world and helping others travel!

39 Comments

  • Angela
    June 9, 2013 at 11:06 am

    I feel the same way, Helen. Kids are scary and sometimes I think I may just never be ready for them. Lucky for us, women are having children at older ages these days. My mom had my little brother (on accident) at 40! We’ve still got time to be selfish and kidless and make that decision a bit later on.

    Hope we get to do sambuca shots together before that day comes!
    Angela recently posted…Himba Girl, NamibiaMy Profile

    Reply
    • Helen
      June 9, 2013 at 12:48 pm

      Thanks Angela!

      I guess you’re never ‘ready’ and you have to throw yourself into the unexpected and just go for it! Well, in a few more years anyway! 🙂 A few more things to do just yet!

      Yes, definitely up for the Sambuca shots!

      Reply
  • Charlotte
    June 9, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You need to compile all of these memoirs into a book, kind of like Eat Pray Love but you could call it Explore Dream Discover! So inspirational and well written! Xxxxxx

    Reply
    • Helen
      June 9, 2013 at 7:35 pm

      Thank you Charlotte, that would be the dream! x

      Reply
  • Simone
    June 9, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    Love the article Helen, can definitely relate!

    Reply
    • Helen
      June 9, 2013 at 7:36 pm

      Thank you Simone. Glad you enjoyed reading it!

      Reply
  • Bec
    June 14, 2013 at 8:07 am

    Wow Helen, just stumbled on your amazing site!

    You do inspire me! Your such an amazing person and the things you do for others is inspiring.
    Leaving behind home and going to Africa and then to the rest of the world anc then back to Africa amazing..

    Children.. concerns us all, and yes we are getting no younger.. Peoople keep telling me one dday il be ready, I just hope so… Bring on the next travel adventure 🙂

    x

    Reply
    • Helen
      June 15, 2013 at 11:57 pm

      Thanks Bec!

      You still coming to Europe this summer? I think I definitely need to go back to Oz to see you! x

      Reply
  • ashree
    June 15, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    I might say I disagree about having kids; but in terms of travelling more freely without children on our own, I couldn’t agree more of this! They certainly messed most of your time, but I don’t know, I still find the joy of it. Not convincing you to have kids right away, but I got your point of travelling freely, I kind of miss that way.

    Regards.
    http://www.jakpost.travel/

    Reply
    • Helen
      June 21, 2013 at 5:50 pm

      Hi Ashree,

      Who knows, I may prefer travelling with kids, guess I’ll never know unless I have any. That leap into the unknown… But I guess it will just be ‘dfferent’ and that’s the ‘adventure’! 🙂

      Reply
  • Annie of TravelShus
    June 17, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    i feel the exact same way. thinking through this problem every day.

    thanks for writing it out for all of us. its a tough decision!

    Reply
    • Helen
      June 17, 2013 at 8:59 pm

      It’s hard isn’t it! I know some people travel with kids, and I love that! But just not sure what that will look like for me in the future! Only time will tell! 🙂

      Reply
  • Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans
    June 19, 2013 at 1:58 am

    Gosh – I so relate to this post! I’m also married and will turn 33 in about a month and that clock is ticking louder and louder. I keep saying that 35 is my cutoff age for starting a family, but 2 more years of “freedom” just doesn’t seem long enough. Yet, I know that if I don’t have kids, I’ll regret it for the rest of my life. I just want to be able to give my kids an awesome life and to be able to travel with them the way my parents traveled with me. I don’t think think you’re at all selfish for not being ready for motherhood yet. I don’t think that motherhood is something that you can ever be completely ready for. Instead, it’s something you grow into.
    Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans recently posted…Derinkuyu: Going Underground in CappadociaMy Profile

    Reply
    • Helen
      June 19, 2013 at 8:12 am

      Hi Dana,

      I’ve just turned 33! Scary isn’t it? I feel totally the same as you! People always say “You’re never ready, you just have to do!”

      Helen x

      Reply
  • Jacqueline
    June 19, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    I totally relate. I’m currently at that same crossroads and even though I am in theory willing to settle and have children with the right person, it seems that life is ever pulling me the way of the nomad. Both are honourable and wonderful, only time will tell as you say. Ultimately, it’s all good whichever way you go. x

    Reply
    • Helen
      June 23, 2013 at 8:01 pm

      Yes I think we’ll all find our own way and adapt to that change when it happens! I guess the unknown is always going to be a bit daunting.

      x

      Reply
  • bbom
    June 25, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    wow amazing article, it touches me from within! bbom bbom bbom bbom bbom

    Reply
  • maillot de foot pas cher
    July 4, 2013 at 12:47 am

    maillot de foot pas cher…

    Quite great submit, impressive. its fairly different from other posts. Thanks for sharing…

    Reply
  • Arianwen
    August 28, 2013 at 10:44 am

    Aw, thanks for the link to my post! I would completely agree that having kids is way scarier than those silly things I got up to in New Zealand. I hope I can still have kids at 40 because I am nowhere near ready to think about it at 30!!
    Arianwen recently posted…Where do I Learn to Ski in Europe?My Profile

    Reply
    • Helen
      August 28, 2013 at 8:31 pm

      Ha ha, no I definitely reckon the stuff you did is way scarier! 🙂 x

      Reply
  • Janice Stringer
    November 26, 2013 at 9:14 am

    Hi Helen,
    I committed to your biggest fear before I was internally ready and yet it has been my greatest adventure. Having children has been the most growth promoting time of my life, possibly during one of the most painful times also  – as I had children at the same time my Mother was slowly dying of cancer – only the joy of my two beautiful babies could balance out the pain of watching someone so important in your life die an extremely painful death. They brought me joy when death brought me loss and they have continued to do so, throughout my life. 
    I have even travelled with them around the world, which was totally amazing and allowed me to feel fulfilled as a whole person. Motherhood is an amazing journey.

    Reply
    • Helen
      November 26, 2013 at 9:55 am

      Hi Janice,

      That is one of the loveliest things I have read. Thank you. I have a niece, and when I’m with her, all the horrible stuff just seems better somehow, so whilst I’ll never know what you went through, I can understand in a little way.

      You are very inspiring and I think at some point I will folloow in your footsteps. I hope anyway. I know that if it happened for me, I would embrace it. I’m not one to do things by halves and I can imagine seeing the world through your kids eyes is pretty magical. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave such a lovely comment.

      Helen x

      Reply
      • Janice Stringer
        November 26, 2013 at 10:26 am

        Dear Helen,
        What a beautiful thing to say. Thank you.
        I didn’t realise until you said it in writing that what I did was embrace the experience of Motherhood even though I was unprepared and without guidance, I looked very much to my husbands family at the time to develop my skills in parenting but  the decisions to be the kind of mother  I wanted to be and then work hard in being that for my kids was mine alone.

        So thank you very much for allowing me that insight. Precious and delicious for me at this time of year.
        Take care

        janice

        Reply
        • Helen
          November 26, 2013 at 10:48 am

          🙂 x

          Reply
  • Jennifer
    January 4, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    I’m 27 and had my first taste of long term travel whilst at University, and have been travelling ‘on and off’ since then between career breaks and squeezing in 3 week holidays over xmas! Whilst I used to think that having children would put a stop to travel completely, I have now changed my mind on this altogether after seeing people travelling with children in India and also SE Asia last year. It really inspired me as I’d love to take my children travelling (when I decide the time is right to have kids!) as I think travel makes people into much more rounded individuals. Nice post 🙂
    Jennifer recently posted…Hiring a motorbike in Luang PrabangMy Profile

    Reply
    • Helen
      January 5, 2014 at 1:00 am

      Yeah I’ve seen lots of people make it work and they really inspire me! It might stop my real crazy trips for a little while, but I’ll never stop travelling!! I met a couple in Africa travelling with their two kids who were 9 and 10! Very cool!!!

      Reply
      • Janice Stringer
        January 5, 2014 at 12:48 pm

        Just find the way that works for you – and work out the finer points as you going. Then you’ll have many different kinds of amazing trips!

        Reply
        • Helen
          January 5, 2014 at 12:53 pm

          I think that’s the ‘plan’! 🙂 One of my New Years Resolutions is to stop being such a ‘what if’ worrier! Thanks Janice!

          Reply
          • Janice Stringer
            January 5, 2014 at 12:59 pm

            Think of the ‘What if’ worrying as useful – its letting you know the uncontrollable aspects of life that are important to you. Just give yourself a little time to assess those what ifs and look at how, as an individual you can help calm the part of you that worries. I am developing my faith, slowly and at times with difficulty but I believe that I can use this to help me with those what if moments. Maybe you can too… 🙂
            Janice Stringer recently posted…Has it all gone a bit Ryanair?My Profile

          • Helen
            January 5, 2014 at 4:01 pm

            Thank you Janice. 🙂 Wise words as always! 🙂

          • Janice Stringer
            January 5, 2014 at 6:41 pm

            🙂
            Janice Stringer recently posted…Has the World Gone Ryanair?My Profile

  • Kiara Gallop
    March 12, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    Like you I didn’t start long-term travel until I was 29. I got stuck in a rut, moving from one long relationship to the next, with people who didn’t share my passion to travel the world. Now, like you, I’m regretting having not done so when I was younger. As regards having children, it’s definitely something that scares me but does it inspire me? I don’t think it does. I don’t feel inspired by the enormous responsibility that motherhood would present, or by the pregnancy, the sleepless nights, the expense, and the lack of freedom. I often question why I don’t possess the maternal instincts that practically every other woman on the planet does, and I do feel like the odd one out, like I don’t fit in. But then I look at all the travelling I am able to do and the adventures I am lucky enough to have, and how little time or money I’d have to do that if I had children. I guess we just have to run with what feels right for us individually. Great, thought-provoking article though 🙂

    Reply
    • Helen
      March 12, 2014 at 11:13 pm

      Thanks Kiara. I feel very much the same. I’m still really on the fence. I think I will have one, or two… ut I’m still reluctant, wanting to travel instead. I feel like the odd one out too! x

      Reply
  • Nadine
    March 16, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    This is a wonderful post. I just came across your blog and so far I love it. There’s a lot in this post I relate to: I completely agree with your words, “I missed the twenty-something traveler boat”. I’ve had those same thoughts so much recently; I’m also 33, and my own traveling just began last year. I keep thinking about and planning out new travels and adventures for the next few years, and then I stop and think, “Oh yeah, what if I ever want to get married and have kids?” 5 years ago I felt like I had all the time in the world, for everything. Now? I suddenly feel like there is not nearly enough time. Thanks for sharing yourself on this blog, I’m looking forward to reading more!

    Reply
    • Helen
      March 16, 2014 at 8:04 pm

      Thanks Nadine, what a lovely comment!

      It’s a really difficult thing to process in your brain. I think, over the last few months, I’ve realised that full time travel might not be for me. However I am still in love with crazy adventure travel and the thoughts I wrote about almost a year ago still float around my head and I’m like “Oh my God, so little time”! I often wonder if I’ll ever make sense of it all!

      33 is still young, so at the moment I am still rolling with whatever comes along at trying to live in the present instead of worrying what might be. Hopefully I’ll knw if it’s ever the ‘right time’! 🙂

      I hope we figure it out! x

      Reply
      • Janice Stringer
        March 17, 2014 at 8:19 am

        As a woman, whom travelled across the world with her family at 40, I would like to interject, if ok?
        I am working hard to create a writing career – the Gods don’t always seem to be working with me, so it is quite difficult. I am attempting to tap into that freedom you experience on the road, having stepped out of society (the most difficult place to be at times) and still be a Mum. Its quite a challenge to balance the two – the needs of the individual and of a family!
        Good luck to you both with working it all out and its good to hear that others have difficulty processing life – as I do!

        Reply
        • Helen
          March 17, 2014 at 9:30 am

          Hey Janice, of course it’s ok to interject! Comments/discussion is good!

          I think it’s brilliant that you are doing both – Wonder Woman! 🙂 I often say to my husband that if we have kids we should take them on the road, however I don’t think he’s keen, it’s not really his thing. But, you never know, one day he might think differently! Heck, I don’t know how I would feel if I had kids, and wonder would travel be as appealing if I did. I don’t know and I suppose I’ll never know until I have them. I have a number of friends who travel as a family, my friend Erin of Travel with Bender is amazing at it! But you and your partner have both got to love that lifestyle I think.

          I’m also not sure if I’d want to be a full time traveller either anymore. I used to. It’s great to go away for a little while, but now I think I’d miss my family and friends too much if I was away all year. I want to watch my little niece growing up. But then, it’s been a while since I’ve done a big, big trip to Africa… that might change my mind! Owning a safari lodge in Africa would be the dream and family came out to stay for 6 months of the year!

          Oh, I don’t know, I’m so confused! 🙂

          Reply
          • Janice Stringer
            March 17, 2014 at 10:06 am

            Hi Helen,
            My long term dream is still owning and running a tent village in NZ – the thought of growing old in the UK leaves me cold if I’m honest. I feel lucky, as I realise I’ve been given a second chance at life but also a little scared as I’m not 25 anymore, so life doesn’t look quite as long now! Every step I take is a step towards what I want but I don’t know how it will pan out, what way to turn or step to take next. Its all a little unnerving at times – maybe not so much so, if I didn’t also have a family and my personal beliefs about the responsibilities entailed with those.
            I think its good to talk too 🙂

  • saim malik
    October 25, 2017 at 5:50 am

    wow beautiful images and also your post thanks for sharing this

    Reply

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