I have a dilemma.

Before I became a parent, I spent quite some times with a successful entrepreneur back in Penang. Because I was a singer and musician, he usually invited me to karaoke session and disco dance floor and some great food places. I also had some oversea vacation following him all over the place. In short, I spent quite a lot of “fun” time with him, who is like my big brother and mentor.

He has a son who was still studying in primary school at that point. What puzzled me is that he never brought his son along for all those fun activities. One day, I asked him why didn’t he ever bring his son along? He candidly told me the reason. He didn’t want the boy to enjoy too much. Before a kid knows how to make hard earned money, it is better not to pamper him.

I thought that is a great way to bring up my child. Let them have a hard time before they learn how to enjoy life. So I thought that I would be doing exactly that when I have my child.

Fast forward to the present day. His son had graduated from college and is now succeeding his business. I admire the way he was brought up, nurturing the small kid to be a wise, mature, grateful and capable adult.

Now my son is in primary school. But I didn’t follow exactly what my friend did to his son. For example, I traveled to overseas each year. I’ve been to quite many countries for vacation including Mexico, the USA, New Zealand, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Europe, SEA countries like Singapore, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand. Most of the time, my son came along with us. As I was writing this from Vietnam, he was with me.

Working on a cruise ship

Of course, not just the vacation trip. We will also go for fine dining, karaoke, luxury cruises, concert, etc. Guess what? He joined us most of the time. I am caught guilty.

Instead of giving my kid a hard time so that he can learn to delay gratification, he gets to enjoy the material pleasure and life experience that money can bring, at such a young age. Am I a good parent? Should I feel guilty?

I discussed it with my wife about this dilemma.
“My dear, are we spoiling our child? I remembered the first time I went to a foreign country was when I studied in UTM at Skudai. When I visited Singapore, my parents still didn’t have their passports!”, I said.

I then added, “If we keep on taking our kid to all these fancy places and pamper him, would it make him a spendthrift? When he grows up and can’t make enough to sustain the lifestyle he was used to having, isn’t it bad?”

When that happens, he will have to ask financial support from us. He will be a dependent or our parasite forever. Shouldn’t we be worried about this potential risk?

In contrast, my wife looks at this matter through a different lens. She said, “We brought him along so he can bring more excitement to us during the trip. We don’t have to think about how he is doing back home. We don’t get to miss him! We don’t need to call back or Facetime every night because he is just right beside us.”

She just right out knocked on my big dumb head.
YEAH! That’s the ultimate reason we brought him along on vacation. We get to enjoy together. We can spend the best time with the people we love the most. We share the unforgettable memories. When we make a photo book of a trip, we are all in it.

So I think that adds another guilt – I am selfish. Taking my son on vacation adds to my happiness. It is not exactly for him, but for me, for my wife and our family as a whole.

If you are a parent, you would have faced the same situation like mine when planning a vacation. Should you bring along your children?

The pros:
– spend the magic moment and have tonnes of fun together
– need not miss them or worry about them because you are separated
– more time for bonding and meaningful conversation
– exposing your children to different culture and ways of living that broaden their views and experiences.

The cons:
– spend a lot more money on vacation: extra beds, air tickets, meals, etc.
– the BIGGEST WORRY: the potential risk of upbringing a child who spends extravagantly and irresponsibly, and turns into a long-term liability.

What do you normally do? How do you weigh the pros and cons?

However, I had made up my mind long ago. I would continue to bring my son along until the day he becomes an independent adult. Do I worry about the risk? Yes, I do.

So I am continuously educating him about managing finances prudently. It is fine to spend money on your “wants” or the things that fulfill you, as long as you have the means.

Here are the words I spoke to him:

“Son, it is alright to spend money. But remember that you have to become someone valuable first because money only flows to valuable things. Become a producer, who produces value to the world. Learn how to do that efficiently and effectively, and you’ll never run out of money.”

How would you do differently as a parent? Share your thoughts here:

I have a dilemma.

Before I became a parent, I spent quite some times with a successful entrepreneur back in Penang….

Posted by KCLau's Money Tips on Tuesday, September 5, 2017


Personal finance author and trainer

    7 replies to "Should You Bring Your Children on Overseas Vacations?"

    • Bailey

      I think it depends on how well-mannered your child is. Yes, I’ll say it. If your child is a spoiled little brat, don’t take them anywhere outside your home country. If your child gets cranky because of jetlag, that’s normal and acceptable. But if they’re screaming their little heads off because the food is bad, they didn’t get a certain souvenir, etc…that’s not okay. This is coming from a woman in the U.S. I love kids and foriegners, but if your child can’t respect U.S. culture, leave them at home with a babysitter.

    • Joe

      Dear KC,

      Thanks for sharing a part of your life and thoughts, which matters a lot, if not most, to a lot of parents. I am not an expert, and am learning as I move along. what you share and ask is really good.
      Here’s my thoughts.

      I believe that my kid and me ( my family basically) only have one time to live, one second to share and a moment to cherish. I cannot for all the wealth in the world go back in time to when my kid is younger to relive that time again, or to spend that moment differently. Once it’s passed, it’s gone.

      So I live each day like it matters to the future of my kid. How I treat others will be how my kid treats others, how I value my things will be how my kid values things, How I value money and what it can do will similarly be how my kid values money, more importantly how I treasure time is also how my kid will treasure time.

      so to answer your question..would I bring along my children on my vacations? Yes i would, provided it is safe for them.

      You are not selfish. You are investing in your child’s future. Will my kid remember the times we travel? Perhaps not all of it, maybe my kid will not even be able to recall at my request what happened but every once in a while a small memory is mentioned which may even seem totally unrelated to the moment and share how my kid felt. This I believe is a memory stored and treasured.

      It’s good that we teach our kids the value of money and how to use/invest/enjoy it.

      My wife and I took our kid on all our holidays, even before primary school. Why? because when school starts proper, there is only a fixed window which we have to go on holidays. Furthermore, those developing years are the best years to form a lasting impression on my kid, and hopefully one which will be treasure.

      Although we bring our phones and tablets along, we limit the screen time we have. it’s Family Time. The screen we get is on the plane to control what my kid sees and hears ( sometimes what is shown on flights are really not so suitable, and the announcements are really loud), and short periods here and there to catch-up with friends and family.

      Here’s Wishing you and your family an enjoyable and successful journey together.May you bring up a kid who is financially wise, savvy and independent; and If I may dare add also help others be likewise.

      Note: I would also advice my kid to not spend money that isn’t theirs.

      • KCLau

        Dear Joe, thanks for posting your thoughts and sharing your experience with us. Apparently, you are a great parent and by raising great children, we are contributing to the society. Kudos to you!

    • Jack

      KC, i normally don’t reply your email but this one got my attention. First of all, I would like to say I’m a Christian, as a Christian we believe everything comes from our Father in heaven. What this mean is worrying about kids’ future is just a waste of time. God give us children so that we can cherish them and love them. Whenever my wife and I travel without bringing our kids I will always feel there’s something missing and the trips will not be much fun. I would like to add a very important point. Most people believe that this is the world of “survival of the strong”. Why? Because we teach of kids that way. For every positive teaching that we put in our kids’ head has a negative effect.


      Hi, very good thought. Well, I will definitely bring my kids along wherever I go as I will be less stressed thinking of what they are up to and how they are doing. I will also be able to spend quality time, time to bond, conversations that you dont or have time to have due to work and other issues. But, i will always make sure that they earn their chance to come with me for the holiday. So that they will be constantly reminded that nothing comes to you FOC and that you need to earn and work for whatever you want.


      • KCLau

        Hi Pathma, nice sharing. What are the things you usually want them to work on to earn the trip?

    • ken

      good sharing : )

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