Traveling off the beaten track, Kids in Tow


My kids love good dare travel meals. There was that time when we ate horseback in Uzbekistan, which my oldest son admits was quite cheerful. Scorpions fried in a Beijing alley tasted “crunchy,” my youngest son recalls. Dried giraffe in Kenya? He was a bell ringer for the beef jerky, said my youngest daughter.

In distant lands, tasting exotic street food has become a way for our family to immerse themselves in a foreign culture. Raw? Occasionally. Delicious? Often. But my children’s sense of adventure is my greatest pride as a mother.

It took a long time to get here. Ten years ago, when my oldest was eight, a quesadilla was about as interesting food as kids would enjoy it, and Mexico was the farthest country we had explored as a family.

It wasn’t how I imagined parenthood was going to be. Before procreating, my husband and I had backpacked India, crossed South America by bus, camped in sub-Saharan Africa, crisscrossed Asia on all forms of inexpensive transportation. Somehow, this urge to travel disappeared when I got pregnant. By the time we had three kids under 6, we had unwittingly accepted that all inclusive resorts were as good a family vacation as these weary souls could muster. What happened to these swashbucklers with full passports in search of the new, the novel, the unexpected?

Not gone forever, we promised pinky in 2012, when we had enrolled our offspring in a Mandarin immersion school. Once our youngest was approaching 5 and could perhaps appreciate a bit of culture, we vowed to reclaim the fearless spirit of our youth – along with our children. China would be on the calendar for the summer of 2013, and the scorpion would be on the menu.

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