Planning and Experiences, Travel Themed Photography 29

10 lessons learnt from 10 years of life and travels with Shahaar

Your child’s birthday is always a reason to celebrate and feel happy about… To me some years are more of a milestone than others, I have a thing for numbers. On Shahaar’s 7th birthday, I wrote a secret poem for him– my first and last poem to date – which I only shared with my best friend. That was before my travel blogging days when I kept such sentiments to myself. As opposed to now when I share my everyday thoughts with the world! Okay, maybe not every thought, but mostly everything related to travelling as a family and few personal life posts 🙂 Today my baby boy turns 10!! So you can imagine I cannot let such a milestone to slip by without reflecting upon it on our family travel blog 😀  UPDATE: Added another lesson at the end from life and travels with Shahaar as he turns 11 today


On that introduction, and keeping to the theme of Selims Raasta – here are ten life lessons I have learnt from travelling (literally and metaphorically) up and down the road of life as a parent.  I hope it can help to shed preconceived notions that one can’t travel anywhere in the world with children, how it can be easy and fun, how one can enjoy ‘adult’ sightseeing whilst travelling with kids, how important it is to expose children to nature, and the joys of family travel with little ones, whilst they are still young and want to travel with you!

Start them young and it just gets easier

You always hear people say we will wait to travel till the kids are older. They fear how difficult it will be with crying babies, changing nappies, adjusting to different sleep time, the list goes on…we had our first opportunity to travel internationally with Shahaar when he turned 8 weeks old. He got his first set of vaccination and we were off the next day to Switzerland where we spent an amazing holiday in the Swiss Alps with dear friends. We took Shahaar to Bangladesh when he was 4 months, travelled to Sunderbans mangrove forests by boat and to other parts of the country that same trip. I travelled through 4 states in USA when he was 10 months and did our first 10 days camping roadtrip driving from London to Scotland just after he turned one.

What made it easy?

Maybe it helped that Shahaar was the golden baby, he was very easygoing from day 1, he went to everyone and was happy to chill out on his rocker. He was content to just go with the flow as it was ‘normal’ to him to have changes every few weeks(he moved houses 8 times before age of 3.)  Food – not an issue for 6 months as just breastfed. Sleep – took naps during the day when he did! Yes, you have to think of a few extra things – dipaers and extra clothes – but I honestly found the key was to RELAX (mentally) and letting the baby be an extension to your travels. Perhaps I was a little sleep deprived? As long as not stressed, it didn’t matter 🙂 And it got easier over time!

Easier to do some things when travelling with little ones!

We find it easier to go on long hikes (babies don’t whine as much as older kids do) and have peaceful long meals (if timed right and eat when the baby is sleeping). In some ways it’s easier with babies as they take long naps. During those times it’s easier to sightsee at museums or still have long drawn out meals at restaurants. Babies and little ones also don’t have expectations from travels – give them open space, fresh air, water bodies, and they tend to be happy.


Cheaper to travel when they are babies and when there was 1!

This is by the most important lessons we have learnt! Age 2 is the key…do lots of travelling before that whilst airfare is still for family of 2. Most attractions kids are still free, hotels don’t charge extra. We managed to squeeze in Eiffel Tower 7 days before Shahaar turned 3, a very early age to start charging in my opinion. And let’s not forget meals..gone are the days when we didn’t have to pay for four people when we eat out. Travel more whilst there is only one kid!

Importance of experiencing all elements of nature

Ashique and I have an ingrained love for nature, wildlife, the greater outdoors, all our travels pre kids were based around this and we are both passionate about conservation and sustainability. Needless to say this is very much a part of our family life and travels as well 🙂 It gives me so much pleasure to see that reflected back in the children’s temperament, hobbies, art, and their knowledge, understanding and compassion for all living creatures. You really will NEVER go wrong exposing your children to the wonders of nature, be it in your backyard, local park, national parks and around the world.

Kids can enjoy history, ruins and sightseeing too 

There are many ways of getting kids interested in history and culture. It helps when your 3 year old is obsessed with knights! Castles and amphitheatres become quite popular! It helps to talk about history from before – before we went to Verona we talked about Romeo and Juliet. Before we went to Eiffel Tower or any of the Museums in Paris, we built it up so that they can enjoy it (in small chunks of time). We did the same for temples in Thailand and Souks of Morocco. Exposing them to history from a young age allowed us to enjoy all this whilst travelling with little ones.

Exposure to different aspects in life – teaching and learning about adaptability

We are lucky that the children have such a dual heritage where they get to enjoy freedom and ‘luxury’ – in terms of safety and comfort – in the western world having grown up in UK. But at the same time they have been to Bangladesh several times and enjoyed the chaotic and crazy experiences of riding a motorbike, fishing with local fishermen in ponds, and just learning and appreciating how people in other parts of the world live. We never shied from exposing them to all aspects of travels and this in turn has made them very adaptable. They are able to use various kinds of public toilets (or deal with lack of) and stay/travel in different conditions – dealing with heat, cold, mosquitoes and pretty much being able to sleep anywhere!

Teaching responsibility, independence and letting go

Teaching kids about survival skills when travelling and giving them the independence as they grow older can sometimes be hard as a parent! Shedding part of that protective motherly nature and letting Shahaar use a Swiss Army knife, explore on his own, teaching about safety on a boat, hooking bait when fishing – all lessons that are crucial in helping him to become his own independent self and a seasoned traveller.

Learning about the literal meaning of Circle of Life

I found out I was to become a mother and lost my own mother within a span of a few months. I already wrote a post about this as a Memoir to Ammu, but here I just wanted to add how carrying Shahaar during those heartbreaking months helped to bring meaning to life again. One of the realizations I had when Shahaar was born, was how no one else loves you as much as a mother does. But it’s also nice to know, for now, I am also the love of Shahaar’s life 🙂

Reliving your childhood memories and sharing new experiences  with your children

This is now one of the best part of travelling with the kids! They are at an age where I remember travelling with my parents and it’s great seeing them experience new things, trying out hobbies, going through phases that I myself went through. Finding out in Morocco that Shahaar loves ‘Lassi’ too and sharing love for Star Wars.  There are some things we exposed him too young (which he didn’t enjoy) – white water rafting at age 5…Proud moment when the kids finished their first long hike -7k in Black Forest and even prouder to have done the 20k Tongariro Hike with them in New Zealand. The travel memories are endless!

In the blink of an eye, they grow up! Enjoy these precious time whilst they are still children 🙂

UPDATE: Shahaar turns 11 today, I am the mother of a tween now! So much has changed in this one year…we have left our home in England, lived in New Zealand for a year, travelled in a campervan around Australia for 2 months and have now moved to Bangladesh for…awhile 🙂 Here’s a new lesson added to my life and travel lessons with Shahaar (and Shama)

Trust your parenting instincts and do what feels right for your family, children really are more resilient than you might think!

We have been in Bangladesh for one month now and in Shahaar’s own words – it’s been a fun one month with so many friends and family around. I cannot count the number of times we have been told it will be hard for the kids, they will find it difficult to adjust and even more disapproval that we took them out from their comfort zone twice – once when we left England to go to New Zealand and now again from NZ to Bangladesh. It hasn’t been a bed of roses, I won’t lie…life in Dhaka is intense and filled with it’s own…issues. But so far it feels right, for us, as a family. I am happy to say, the kids have been adjusting great, loving all the company, enjoying the luxury of Dhaka life, but at the same time adjusting to the heat, mozzies, traffic, pollution, language barrier, different food and all the other things that comes in the package of good and bad of Dhaka life. As we felt they would…children are resilient! Ashique and I are thankful for the good friends and family all around that are helping to make this big move here after 12 years abroad go smoothly….and as always, ever so proud of our two young adventurers 🙂

adjusting to life in the urban jungle :-)

adjusting to life in the urban jungle




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  • Eileen says: June 22, 2015 at 11:02 am

    Awesome post and happy birthday to your son! It is great to expose your children to travel and nature when they are young! Such wonderful experiences from all your travels. Thanks for sharing, have a happy week!

    • says: June 22, 2015 at 11:12 am

      Thanks Eileen 🙂 Happy week to you as well!

  • Potty Mouthed Mummy says: June 22, 2015 at 11:43 am

    Love this! You are so right, starting them young is definitely the way to go. Such a lovely post

  • Phoebe @ Lou Messugo says: June 22, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    I felt such affinity with this post as not only did my “baby” turn 10 last week too but we’ve been travelling with him since he was 6 weeks old. I felt like I was reading my own thoughts, were so on the same wavelength. Happy birthday to your very handsome boy! #mondayescapes

  • Clara says: June 22, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    What a great post – your words resonate so much we me. I travelled all over as a child and now we are trying to do the same with ours. We have probably done a bit too much “soft” travel recently though (Florida, Europe etc) – we’re moving to South Africa in a few weeks so I am determined to try being a bit more adventrous with them now. Mozambique, Madagascar, Namibia…here we come 🙂

  • Lorrie says: June 22, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    Happy Birthday to your son. The years do fly by, don’t they? Traveling with children can be great! We did a fair bit of traveling with our young family. The exposure to different cultures and languages widened their world view in very positive ways. This is a great post!

  • Snap says: June 22, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    Happy Birthday to your son. Loved seeing your travel shots. Start them young and they’ll love adventures! Happy Monday!

  • Wander Mum says: June 22, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    Great post. I am totally with you on it being easier when younger. First trip for my daughter was when she was 9 weeks old. So much can be done/seen when they nap and we would actually get an evening with just the two of us as well. Plus the Free flights are great too! Happy birthday to your son. X #mondayescapes

    • says: June 22, 2015 at 9:44 pm

      Thanks for the birthday wishes 🙂 We miss those cheaper flights, now going anywhere four of us quite steep! Hence have started doing more local road trips rather than flying. Or moving to another country and doing slow travel for a year – which is what we are doing now in New Zealand.

  • melody pittman says: June 22, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    What a fantastic post! Thank you so much for sharing something so intimate with your fans & followers. Your children are so blessed to have been given the gifts you guys are giving them, the experience to have their eyes opened in every sense by seeing the world. I take my hat off to you for bringing them into your world and not changing your life to just be the baby’s mom & dad. Loved this!!

    • says: June 22, 2015 at 9:43 pm

      Thanks so much for such a kind and positive message Melody 🙂 Really lovely to get such warm feedback when I write more ‘personal’ posts reflections on life and travels, rather than just describing our experience at a destination. My day just got a little better 😀

  • Crysta @ WellWornSuitcase says: June 22, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    Yes, yes, and more yes! I couldn’t agree with you more!

  • Judith @ Lavender Cottage says: June 23, 2015 at 12:42 am

    I see all the life experiences your children are having through the photos and think how enriched they will be as adults. Happy birthday to your son and thank you for linking to Mosaic Monday.

    • says: June 23, 2015 at 3:55 am

      Thanks Judith 🙂 I feel all four of our lives are enriched by our travels and I am always grateful that we are able to travel so much!

  • Sue Reddel says: June 23, 2015 at 2:33 am

    What a lovely post honoring your son. He is so very lucky to have had some many global experiences in his 10 years. I’m sure your travels have made him a better person of the world. Kudos to you and your husband for doing such a fine job raising your young man. May you all have many, many more interesting journeys together.

    • says: June 23, 2015 at 3:56 am

      Thanks Sue for the kind words and positive encouragement 🙂

  • kami says: June 23, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    I always admire people who travel with their kids from the very early days! Sure, I bet it gets exhausting but kids get so much from that and learn more about the life than they would do normally! You guys rock!

  • Jolanta | Casual Traveler says: June 24, 2015 at 2:37 am

    Aw, what a beautiful tribute to your son! You are so absolutely right that you have to start them young! If they experience something from young age, they start taking it for granted. And yes, the kids learn so much while traveling. There’s no point putting off travel because you have children, if you can travel WITH children, right?

  • Heather Cole says: June 24, 2015 at 7:28 am

    Ah, this is a lovely tribute, and you make it sound so easy and rewarding to travel with children. I think it’s right to start them young though, and if we ever have children we’ll take a leaf out of your book and be hopping on a plane the minute they’ve opened their eyes…well almost 🙂

    • says: June 25, 2015 at 8:13 am

      Haha 🙂 I love your enthusiasm Heather! That’s the right spirit for travelling with kids 😀

  • The Educational Tourist says: June 24, 2015 at 9:57 pm

    What a lovely post and what an incredible traveler your kiddo is! Traveling the world is wonderful for kids and opens their eyes and it is fun to see things through them. Loved it!
    Natalie, The Educational Tourist

  • Ting at My Travel Monkey says: June 26, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    Selim, I love this post so much. You and I share exactly the same ideals when it comes to travel and children. I wrote a similar post and agree with each of your points. And ultimately, it’s family bonding on such a heightened level – you guys will have these wonderful memories together forever. You cannot put a price on that 🙂 Thanks so much for linking up with #MondayEscapes

  • eileen g says: June 28, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    We’re not as daring as you — and we had too many expenses to travel much in the first year — but I agree that waiting until kids are older does not make it easier. The younger you start the more kids take travel in stride and the more adaptable and agreeable they are. I like to joke that you can travel with kids to any country that has kids. Not literally of course, but it puts a different angle on the idea that you can’t take children to one place or another because it’s too fancy or too exotic.

    • says: June 28, 2015 at 9:14 pm

      I like that phrase 🙂 It just shows that you can really take kids to most places as most places have other kids!

  • Corinne says: June 29, 2015 at 4:51 am

    Samiya, I agree with you on all points. I always cringe when people say they will travel when their kids get older. Sorry, you’ve missed the boat! Train them early. My oldest daughter’s first trip was tent camping (all we could afford) through the south of France and the east of Spain when she was five months old! And both my girls have grown up to be independent world travelers on their own. They would tell you it’s in their blood! Excellent, excellent advice!!!!

    Thanks for linking up with #wkendtravelinspiration!

    • says: June 29, 2015 at 6:12 am

      Thanks Corinne for the positive feedback 🙂 That’s wonderful about travels with your daughters camping in south of france and spain. That’s exactly what we did with our daughter Shama when she was 5 months (and shahaar was 3)! Did a road trip from Bordeoux to pyrenees and further south camping along the way, have such wonderful memories from that trip too!

  • Michele {Malaysian Meanders} says: June 30, 2015 at 5:41 am

    Happy Birthday to your boy. My youngest just turned 10 years old, so I completely understand your post. He has had such a fortunate and worldly childhood. The best part is that it’s what he considers as normal.

  • Shikha (whywasteannualleave) says: June 30, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    I think it’s great the way you guys make it seem so easy (or relatively easy anyway) to travel with kids even from a really young age and prove that your travel dreams aren’t hampered at all by having a family. Happy birthday to your son!

  • Shere says: June 22, 2016 at 11:04 pm

    I totally agree with all of your lessons learned. I think we have so much things in common. My grandmother (who was like a mother to me) passed away 2 years ago, just four days after we arrived to visit her with our baby (liam was 6 months), the only thing that made her laugh. I see the children play and I have to think how much she would have enjoyed seeing them too.
    BTW I’m writing from a campervan, camping through norway with our 3 months old baby and 2,5 years old son 😆

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