Dangerous Travel With Kids

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Our four-wheeler slipped and slid on the monsoon-soaked dirt road. I laughed nervously and gripped the door with white knuckles. As we came around the corner, we saw burning tires blocking the narrow road. That’s when I wondered if maybe I shouldn’t have brought my kids on this trip after all. Is it ever acceptable to expose kids to dangerous travel?

How do you quantify danger? What risks are acceptable? Do you take more risks traveling solo than you do with your kids?

I thought a lot about these questions this summer when I took my kids to Nepal. It was the height of the rainy season, which made the steep mountain roads seem especially treacherous. Almost every day I would read about a vehicle that slid off the road and fell hundreds of feet somewhere in the country. The incident with the burning tires was resolved peacefully, but not before we sat for a few hours on the road waiting.

As I reflected on these worries, I realized that what I was missing was not safety, but the illusion of control. Going about my daily life back home, I delude myself into thinking that I can control the threats that my kids face more easily than I could on this trip. In reality, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for children in America. There’s no guarantee that we would have been any safer on a road back home.

This is not to say that you should needlessly expose your family to foolish risks. Often though, we exaggerate risk when we are outside our comfort zones and minimize it when we are in our comfort zones. Do your research, take precautions, but don’t let fear paralyze you into not traveling.

Weighing the risks against the benefits of the trip, I’m still glad we went.  We’re going back to Nepal in a few weeks – not during the rainy season.

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