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Why We’re Taking Our Kids to South Africa

This is an inspiring article on traveling to South Africa as a family!

Next Tuesday, Jesse, our friend and my manager (Brian), and our three kids will be getting on a plane with me to go to South Africa.

To say that I am excited would be an understatement. Honestly, I am ECSTATIC!

I left part of my heart in South Africa when I traveled there for the first time earlier this year and I’ve been hoping and dreaming about getting back there ASAP ever since I came home. I love the people, I love the food, I love the climate, I love the culture, I love the local team from Take Action that is serving and ministering there.

Why We're Taking Our Kids to South Africa

So, as soon as I got home, we started talking and praying and thinking about the possibility of our family going together to South Africa. I wanted to introduce Jesse and the kids to the beautiful country and people there.

Because the truth is, I could talk and talk until I was blue in the face about how amazing my trip was and how it had forever impacted me, but I knew that the only way they’d really get to understand why I fell so madly in love with South Africa was for them to actually walk on the soil, meet the people in person, and have firsthand knowledge of South Africa.

Why We're Taking Our Kids to South Africa

So we started talking about dates. We started seriously considering it. And we began looking into the costs and what a trip like this would entail.

We had some honest conversations with our kids about it because we knew it would be a big deal for them. It would require some major stepping outside their comfort zone and it would mean facing their fears of long flights.

While they are all apprehensive about the trip, we feel like the timing is right and this is going to be a life-changing trip for us and our kids. We’re leaving on Tuesday, September 29 and will be returning on Tuesday, October 6.

We’ll mostly be in the Pretoria area and yes, we are going to get to SEE THE CLASSROOMS THAT YOU ALL HELPED BUILD!!! {I’m not sure, but I might just be a wee bit excited about that part of this trip. ;)}

Why We're Taking Our Kids to South Africa

Many of you have asked for more details as to why we’re going as a family and why we’re taking our kids and I wanted to try to fill them in for you by sharing three of the reasons we decided to travel to South Africa with our kids…

#1. We Want to Challenge Our Kids to Step Outside Their Comfort Zone

I would be lying if I said our kids aren’t scared about the trip. They have a lot of fears going in — just like I did when I got on the plane earlier this year for that 18-hour flight.

They are scared of being in an airplane that long (gratefully, we’re taking a different route this time and the flight is only 15 hours instead of 18 hours!). They are scared of flying over water for so long.

They wonder what they people will be like. They worry they won’t understand what people are saying. They wonder if they will feel out of place or awkward.

We’ve been able to have a lot of great conversations as a result. We’ve talked about what to do when you can’t understand someone’s accent or don’t know what they mean when they use a certain word. We’ve talked about how to respond if something makes you feel awkward.

We’ve also worked hard to eliminate as many fears as possible: showing them pictures of South Africa and the people we’ll be meeting, talking about my experiences there, talking about the things I especially loved, having them watch YouTube videos of what international flights are like, and planning the trip in a way that we’re balancing out the hard stuff (like seeing poverty) with fun stuff (like going on an Elephant Interaction Trip — how cool does that sound??).

While I am quite certain there are going to be awkward moments for all of us, we are excited for our kids to have the opportunity to jump outside their comfort zones and face their fears. I think this trip will be something that will forever change them as individuals.

Why We're Taking Our Kids to South Africa

#2. We Want Our Kids to Experience a Different Culture

One of our greatest hopes is that our children don’t grow up being stuck in an Americanized bubble.

We can show them pictures of other cultures. We can read books about other cultures. We can watch movies about other cultures. We can even meet people from different cultures here in the U.S.

But I think there’s nothing that can quite help you break free from the American bubble then just actually stepping onto another continent, walking alongside the people there, and experiencing their life firsthand.

We don’t want our kids to think inside a box. There is so, so much we can learn from other cultures.

We want them to see that there is a very big world out there — of needs, of ideas, of different ways of doing things. Our hope is that this trip will help to expand their horizon and broaden their perspective on life.

Why We're Taking Our Kids to South Africa

#3. We Want to Inspire Our Kids to Be Givers

This is our biggest hope with this trip.

The first time Jesse and I traveled outside of the U.S., it was to go to the Dominican Republic. We came home from that trip forever changed.

We saw how money could make such a big difference — and how far a little bit of our money could be stretched there. We were inspired to dream big dreams and pray big prayers. Most importantly, we recognized that by continuing to live simply, it would allow us to give more generously.

Our greatest desire is to raise kids who are world-changers. We don’t want our kids to be content with the status quo. We want them to realize that their lives can make a big impact.

When I came back from South Africa, Jesse and I committed to pay for the operating expenses for the Take Action ministry in South Africa. It’s been such a blessing for us to give in this tangible way.

We want to make this giving real to our kids. We don’t want our giving to just be something that Mom and Dad do, but we want our kids to catch a vision for how their money and resources can make a difference, too.

Have you ever traveled internationally — especially with kids? I’d love to hear your tips and suggestions for us as we prepare for this trip. We would also so appreciate your prayers, especially that my kids would have peace, not fear, going into next week.

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100 Comments

  • Yay, I’m so inspired you guys are going and that is definitely a place I’d love to visit! I’ve lived abroad and have travelled extensively internationally, prior to having kids.

    We’re waiting until they’re a little older before we do big international trips. They’re 5 and 7. That being said, we do travel down to Tijuana, Mexico quite a bit to help some orphanages down there. We donate clothes, toys, food, etc. and our kids play with the kids down there.

    I love how all you have to do is get a ball and the kids bond and have fun. They completely forget how they are different in every way. I love the conversations we are able to have with the kids and the questions they ask when we visit.

    I can’t wait to hear about your trip. It inspires me to get our family out of our comfort zone to serve and love more.

  • My husband & I just adopted from Ethiopia this year, so we made that trip together (non-stop flight was about 12 hours there, and 16 hours home!). But it was great to be able to send our 12 year old son with dad for the second trip to bring our daughter home. We knew nothing could replace stepping into another culture and getting a heart for the people. It was a great experience for our son! And the Ethiopian people were some of the sweetest and happiest people we’ve ever met — even though they were living with a lot less than any of us. You’ll do great and what a special opportunity for your kids.

  • Amy says:

    Hope you guys have a wonderful trip! We are missionaries here in South Africa (Port Elizabeth) and when we flew down here our 5 kids were just so excited about the new adventure the plane ride and airport wasn’t an issue at all. We have loved raising our kids here, it really has giving them an understanding of how life is for others outside our American bubble. Looking forward to reading your updates. The weather is beautiful right now, one day you will have to make it down to the garden route, it not only has some of the most amazing people (we work with the Xhosa) but the scenery is incredible. Just tell your kids after the long plane ride they can get a yummy Oreo Cadbury chocolate bar and Appletizer in the Joburg airport 🙂

    • Pauline says:

      Am so excited to have come across this – I’m originally from PE, now living in the UK, we haven’t been back in 14 years, but our daughter just recently went over for 2 weeks. Would love to know more about your work – we must make a trip back one of these years!!

      • Amy Coffey says:

        That’s so exciting! I hope she enjoys her time here. We mainly work in the townships, right now we are in Kwadwesi and Sowetto. Church work is our main focus but we also help with school tutoring as well as other things. We have plans to build a camp for teens to have an outlet from the townships, especially during school holidays, we are looking into the Kragga Kamma area for land. Hope you get to come back for a visit soon!

  • Alison says:

    Dear Crystal,

    Thank you for writing posts with titles like, “Why we’re taking our kids to South Africa” instead of, “Why you should take your kids on trips.” Your blog is full of positivity instead of telling people what to do. I stumbled across it when I was a newlywed several years ago, and I’m so thankful I did! I have learned so many valuable things from you and look up to you. You’re great! 🙂

    Alison

    • Thank you so much for your kind encouragement! I know that what WE do is not necessary what YOU and YOUR FAMILY should do, so my hope is to give people a peek into our life and why we’re choosing/doing what we’re doing without saying “This is what you must do, too!”

      Because not everyone can or should do what we do. Just like our family can’t do and shouldn’t do everything another family does.

  • Hey Crystal

    I’m a friend of Lisa-Jo’s (we were at school together way back; she wrote the foreword for my book; and her baby sister is in the same class as my littlest son…). We live in Pretoria; know Pete and Wanda Rous, and have WiFi 🙂 If you need coffee / a chat / somewhere to drop the kids for a swim / a place to underwhelm if you feel overwhelmed / or anything – please give me a shout.

    Much love
    Dalene

  • Jackie Fairon says:

    When you come back to South Africa, please let me know. I live in Durban and I am so intrigued to follow your experiences as you travel. I am a Rotary Ann and have had a lot to do with adult education, teaching domestic workers to read in their Thursday afternoons off in Zululand. I’m getting old but want to offer my services giving Zulu (or any other) speakers conversation lessons. Trouble is, it’s so dangerous going out, I was mugged two months ago, and am lucky to be alive.
    I love everybody, but am specially blessed to have a lot of Zulu friends mostly from church. The thing I like is the way they seem to love and accept me, when we whites have such a history here of being anti-black and colonial minded.
    Anyway, that’s the story. May God bless you and your family richly this year and make all your dreams come true.
    Kind regards
    Jackie

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