Hi there fellow travelers! Long time no see..I've been spending some quality time with the family, and by now you should know quality time can only mean one thing: traveling!
Who said traveling with a child is difficult?
2 Months ago, My wife Karin and I decided to go back to where we started off 10 years ago: Machu Picchu. Times have changed since then and our personal situation has evolved as well. Since August 2004 we are the proud parents of Edie Annemare, our by now 1,5 year-old daughter. Edie is used to traveling, as our line of work pushes us around the globe throughout the year, but we had never before taken her to places too far off the beaten track, let alone high altitude. Therefore we were a bit anxious to know if we would be doing the right thing by bringing her along. We were basically weary of Altitude Sickness, or “Soroche”.
Soroche is caused by 2 main factors:
Lack of oxygen in the air:
The higher you go the less oxygen you will find per m3 of breathable air. Therefore your lungs will obtain less of this existential gas per each breath taken, while your brain and heart need the same amount. Therefore you need to breath more often to get the same amount of oxygen, which gives you the feeling of being “out of breath” constantly.
Lower outside air pressure at higher altitudes:
Due to the fact that at 3,400m (10,000ft approx.) altitude there is the same amount of meters/ft less air above your head and therefore less air-pressure on your body then at 0m/ft. At sea-level your body has to have built up a certain inside pressure, to withstand that outside air-pressure. This is done through nitrogen bubbles in your bloodstream. These bubbles have a certain size and strength as to create an inner pressure that meets the outside pressure. Once you get to a certain altitude (for me the barrier lies at 3,000m/9,000ft) very quickly (for example in a plane), your body may have difficulties adjusting itself to the sudden difference in outside pressure and for a while (mostly a maximum of 24 hours) your inside pressure may be higher than the outside air-pressure, causing a series of possible discomforts, such as headache, dizziness, intestine unrest, etc. This all has to do with the fact that your body tries to make the nitrogen bubbles in your bloodstream smaller and readjust itself to the outside pressure, but hasn’t gotten there yet. Normally this is no big problem and you will get over it within 24 hours.
After some research, it turned out that actually smaller children do not or hardly suffer from this sickness, as their bodies tend to adjust themselves much faster then those of grown people. So, we took the plunge and it turned out to be a great experience. People ask: “why would you do it at that age, when they do not have any recollection of it later?”, but we feel children are as susceptible to travel experiences as they are to languages at that age; their mind is a spunge and they will pick up a lot from a trip like this. Maybe they will not remember much in the future, but at some level (I have no medical proof of this of course, but it feels right and some of our friends who traveled with small children confirm it) it will make an impression, open up their mind, make them more open to the different ways the world can present itself… Or at least so we hope…
Bottom line is, we had a great time, Edie as well, and we feel we can take her along on many more of our trips, until she has come to the age where it becomes necessary for her to be in school and with her friends. It will give us a couple more years of traveling freedom and we hope will open up our daughter’s mind for the world. We sincerely feel that getting to know different cultures and ways of living should help in becoming a more tolerant person, and as far as tolerance goes, one cannot start learning early enough.
Best regards from Buenos Aires!