Can You Ruin Childhood by Traveling?


I was once asked if I thought it was possible to ruin childhood by traveling. Of course, my gut reaction was to give a smart-ass response and toss the question back in the questioner’s court by saying, “Do you think you are ruining your kids’ childhood by staying in one spot?” But of course I didn’t because I don’t believe a childhood is messed up just because some of us choose to travel and others choose to stay in one spot. I see benefits to both traveling and staying put. Neither is the RIGHT answer. Is there a RIGHT answer to this parenting gig? Isn’t it a bit individualized?


Does Travel Ruin Childhood

Here’s the thing, Will and I are messing something up in their childhoods. We all are. Whether we travel or stay in one spot, we are going to make mistakes. That’s life. The Sueiro family is just doing it with an ever-changing backdrop. But, are we specifically ruining childhood by traveling? We don’t think so.

What I can say for certain is that our family goals and values are much more clearly defined now that we are traveling. We have the time to focus on our family and what matters most to us. The following were our five key reasons for traveling with our kiddos when we started out three years ago, and they still ring true today.

We want to spend enormous amounts of time with them for
the remainder of their childhoods. 

We value education and feel that learning through travel is priceless.

We want them to have an epic, out-of-the-box childhood.

We want to expose them to real-world experiences and people
who live differently than us.

We want to invest in making memories and building relationships
instead of buying stuff.

Now, if the above reasons for traveling are one day going to screw them up, we’re prepared to take that risk. I can see it now: “Mom, I wish you would have chosen to spend less time with us, because it really messed me up.” “Dad, how could you have ever thought that visiting the site of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima would be more educational than reading about it in a textbook?” “I wish I could have seen the world on my dime!” “Why did we have to go white water rafting in Costa Rica instead of buying a new flat screen TV?”

Who knows? Maybe they will be messed up by that last one. Now, I’m not trying to say that just because you live your life very differently than we live ours that your kid’s childhood will be ruined either. I embrace diversity in our human lifestyles and experiences. But, what it comes down to is that ruining a kid’s childhood goes deeper than the simplicity of traveling with them or deciding to staying put. I think we all know that.

Will they be pissed off one day because they missed the prom? Maybe. Will they dream of making that winning goal on a sports team? Maybe. Will some of the pop-culture jokes from their home country go over their heads? Maybe.

On the other side of the coin, had we stayed in one place, would they have been disappointed that we never ventured beyond Florida for family vacations? Maybe. Would they have wished for more family time instead of career and personal obligations taking precedence? Maybe. Would they have resented our constant pressure to make them shine in every aspect of their lives, because of our egos? Maybe.

Can you see how this can go either way? We absolutely can, and that’s why we decided the risk of “messing them up” through travel was worth it. There is no secret formula for perfect parenting or the perfect childhood.

In the end, this is our journey and our choice. I never presume to know what is best for anyone else’s children, and I demand the same respect in return. We are all here on this journey together as parents, right? We all love our kids, and we believe we are doing what is in the best interest of their mind, body and spirit, agreed?

So yes, Will and I are messing up something, for sure. I hate to break it to you, but you are, too. And, all of our neighbors are, as well. And, so is the CEO of Facebook and the parents in the remotest regions of the world. If it were not for the mistakes we do make in parenting, and the ability to learn from them, we would not grow, and history would continue to repeat itself.

Time is the greatest gift to share with each other. ~ Quvenzhané Wallis

So, to respond to the gentleman concerned that we may be messing up our kids’ childhoods, I answer this.

Yes, we are messing up something. However, what we are not messing up is giving them two parents who love them very much. Two parents who have taken great risks to give them lives full of love, dreams, and time. Avalon and Largo, when you look back on your life and our mistakes (because there will be mistakes), we hope you always remember that we gave you the gift of our time and love. And, we have never regretted it.


What do you think?

Your turn, readers! Whether you are traveling or staying put, do you have concerns about “messing” up your kids’ childhoods? Do you wish you could travel more? Do you wish you could stay put more? Let’s share. There is such comfort knowing that we all have concerns about “messing” up. We are all on the same team and the support we can offer each other is priceless. I like to say that there are not sides drawn in our home between the two ways of life described here. We do not believe in “team travel” or “team stay put.” We believe in team “parent.” As such, we believe that we all must stick together, be there for one another and share, so we can be sounding boards for one another. So, please share.

Also, if you are interested in ruining your kids’ childhood, your retirement, or any other part of your life through travel we can help. Check out our services to see which one best meets your needs.

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16 thoughts on “Can You Ruin Childhood by Traveling?

  1. Beautiful. Great post. You are speaking my language. I just put in 4 loads at the laundromat, and stopped at a playground in an empty campground. My kids are screaming their heads off and having a blast with each other. We sorted through clothes this morning planning what to pack to bring to CR. some days it’s so hard and I long to be settled in a house and a “normal” routine BUT on the flip side, so excited to be starting this adventure. The fall chill is already in the air… Looking forward to a hot winter. I am so sorry to be missing you by only 2 days!! Blessings as you set off to your next destination.

    1. Thank you Carmel. Wow, you are almost there. I remember those last couple of weeks being crazy and emotional, hang on. You will find your new “normal” in CR. Sometimes I wish our life here was not so “normal” Ha! Thank you for your words of encouragement. Our real life paths will cross one of these days. Plus, you can always come for a visit. Besos!

  2. Before we left my mother made the statement that my children will hate me for choosing to sail off with them. I thought about the things I didn’t like while growing up even though my parents never sold off everything we owned, bought a boat and set sail. Was sailing away really going to ruin them? Do what you think is good for your family…kids will always grow into adults and wish certain things may have been different. I challenge anyone to find someone or to say themselves that they had the “perfect childhood” and wouldn’t have wanted to change a thing.

    1. I completely agree!!! Nothing will be perfect, but a life of travel with a family who loves them is pretty darn perfect in my book. Tonight we said goodbye to Avalon’s spanish speaking dance group. The kids have met new people and created a bond outside their comfort zone. They have learned how to make friends beyond their culture, gender and language. Priceless. Travel rocks! Thanks so much for sharing your story Aimee. I think many of us travelers can relate deeply to your words. Keep on doing what you are doing because your girls look incredibly happy. Besos!

  3. When we first left our “standard” life in Peru, we brought along my oldest daughter who was 13 and had never done anything like it. She didn’t like it, she didn’t fit into it. so in a sense I did feel like we were messing her up. In truth we weren’t it’s just that some kids don’t respond well to worldschooling. She missed her school, her friends, her cousins. She went back to Peru and she spends her time there, in school with her friends and her cousins. On the other hand, the little ones thrive on it.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience. More proof that there is no “right” answer to this travel vs. staying put experiment. You have now got me thinking about another subject for a future post. Is there a perfect age to take off and travel with your kids or does it depend on the child? I will be weighing in with your opinion on this one. Fantastic that you decided to take what worked for your child into consideration. Thanks for following.

      1. My little one is a little bit like her older sister and likes to not move too much, unlike her brother who has unending energy. So even if they both thrive on travel, they still have differing styles between them. I can tell you it makes for complicated plans! 😉

  4. Jessica, great perspective!
    I travelled a lot as a child, and as a young adult I wondered it that had ‘screwed’ up my childhood… I would try to have a more stable home for my kids. Now with a bit more of life behind me, I see my kids are missing out on a lot of experiences I had. Resolving that now 🙂

    1. Thanks for commenting and giving us your perspective. It is so nice to hear from someone who traveled as a child. Good Luck with resolving it with your children. Let us know how the travel works out.

  5. Great article. We stayed put in one place for 5 years (our longest) and one son formed close friendships in the neighbourhood and so when it came time to leave he struggled the hardest. I think if you are too long in one spot it can be worse than moving more often! Some people though are more comfortable with the shifts than others. I also moved a lot as a child but feel it was positive and always wanted that for my own. They are continuing the trend and with 3 young adults, 2 of them are saving madly to get back on the road again (and one of them is the kid who I said struggled with leaving friends:)
    Many of these things though relate more to family dynamics and communication. Children who feel engaged, accepted and loved, and know they have a voice in decisions will adapt the best to anything parents throw out.

    1. Thank you Kate for your kind words and thank you for following us. I would have to agree that the longer in one spot can make it worse, but even more I love what you said about family dynamics and communication. I have found that if the parent thinks the child is missing out on things at “home” then the kid seems to feel the same way. Love this…Children who feel engaged, accepted and loved, and know they have a voice in decisions will adapt the best to anything parents throw out. Thank you. Just curious if the one that struggled was the oldest? I am working on a post discussing if there is a perfect age to take off and travel and if it is harder at a particular age.

  6. Beautiful. I fret a lot about this as I try to strike a healthy balance for my son. In response to “the perfect age” question, I did a lot of informal research on that. It seemed that some kids started to protest around 14 -wanting a more stable friend group. My plan is a lot of natural world and language learning world-schooling in these early years. (My son is 3.5) as he’s happiest on nature adventures and I’d like for us both to be mulitiligual. As he gets older (8?), I’d like to weave in more intensive historical/cultural education that brings some textbook learning to life. I’m prepared to settle down if/when he makes a credible protest, but right now he insists he prefers “adventures” to going to school. Love this post and looking forward to the age one. BTW – second to last full paragraph made me cry! Beautiful. Great parents. Lucky kiddos.

    1. Thank you for your kind words JW and welcome to the blog. I love hearing your thoughts on the best age to travel. With our kids I thought our older one would have a harder time, but our younger did initially. It was nothing major, but more than his sister. Honestly they now go in spells where one will miss home one day and then the other a different day? Luckily it is nothing major and they are into the adventure 99% of the time. Welcome! Keep on commenting. I love hearing others perspective.

  7. My parents were in the airforce and so we travelled a lot (20plus schools for me). Where it has affected people I know is there wish to become attached to friends. We got so used to moving on that deep friendship are harder to make.
    On the upside change and adventure are easy and I love meeting new people.

    1. Always +’s and -‘s to each choice in life we make. I could not agree more. There is no perfect solution for this staying versus going life. Thanks for sharing your story Peter and welcome to the blog.

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