Travel to a Third World Country With Young Kids and No Plan is a Recipe for Disaster

Kristen Marks

by Kristen Marks

Kristen Marks is a travel enthusiast, empty-nest mom to two young adult children, athlete, attorney, author, speaker, proud wife of almost three decades (to the same wonderful man!), and the founder of My Pink Lawyer®, Florida Estate & Legacy Planning attorneys. Kristen has been crafting professional estate plans for Floridians and their families for over 28 years.

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“I’m sorry, we are fully booked. It is the Christmas holiday after all.”




[I was going to record what I was really thinking here but my husband tactfully pointed out that I might offend you so the G-rated version it is.]


This was the fifth place we had stopped that day, looking for a vacancy on the Pacific Coast of Panama in 2010.


Our kids were 8 and 10, tired, cranky, and hungry.


Hell, I was tired, cranky, and hungry.


We had just finished up our first week in Panama on the Atlantic Coast which I had planned in advance.


Although not without its own adventures (more on that part of the trip another time), as least I had pre-booked a house to rent so we had a guaranteed roof over our head (remember when I told you that I hated to camp?).


My husband was in charge of the second week of our first Latin American trip with our kids.


Andrew, savvy self-proclaimed international traveler that he is, decided that we would save money by “winging it.”


After all, he travelled for three months around Latin America by the seat of his pants on virtually no money after college.


That’s right. Single, kidless, starving college student who is willing to sleep absolutely anywhere, eat only beans and rice, and hitchhike in third world countries with just a small backpack and a paperback book for company.


That sounds JUST LIKE our family, right?


Sounds JUST LIKE the sort of plan this Suburban Mom wanted to subject her pre-teen kids and herself to. 


Yeah, right.


Besides, he says, you can ALWAYS find a cheap, quaint place on the beach in a pinch.


Maybe in the early Nineties in Honduras, Guatamala and Costa Rica, honey. But certainly not two decades later in Panama, one of (if not the most) industrialized countries in Latin America.


EVERYTHING was booked on the Pacific coast of Panama a year in advance.


Ok, so I exaggerate because we did not have to resort to sleeping in a tent on the beach.


But we came pretty damn close some nights.


I was a nervous wreck everyday until we finally made it back to Panama City three days early before our return flight and checked into a “high end” (translation: expensive, not five star) hotel.

Panama City.jpg

Never thought I'd be so happy to see Panama City again.

Poor Andrew. He is just not a natural planner. He is laid-back and trusts that everything will work out. And, to his credit, it usually does.


I, on the other hand, am a planner to a fault. I want to know every contingency and have back-up plans in place. [Thank goodness I planned our trip to Italy this past summer!]


Clients tell me that they appreciate my organization and attention to details in their Family Succession Plans.


They tell me that I brought up situations that they had never thought about before.


I guess you could say that planning and organization is my Superpower which is why I probably navigated to this area of the law in the first place.


With so much at stake, the last thing you want to chance is your Family Succession (Estate) Plan.

And family succession planning is not just for the wealthy.


EVERY FAMILY needs a solid Family Succession Plan to prevent unnecessary government interference, exorbitant legal fees, lengthy time delays, and messy family fights when a loved one dies.


Jill in Panama.jpg

Peeing in a hole in the ground in the "bathroom"-10 cents.The look after doing so-Priceless.

So, I confess that our Panama trip was a little traumatic for me. It took us another three years to work up the courage to venture out of the country again with our kids.


Andrew learned his lesson, however, and turned over all future vacation planning to yours truly. Good call, honey!


Kristen “Gotta Know Where I’m Sleeping Tonight” Marks


P.S. Thank you, Jen Grove, for this video review of My Pink Lawyer. I appreciate the opportunity to serve you and your family with your family succession planning. By way of some background, Jen is in a blended family situation with “his, her & our children.” She is a mom to an adult child, a college student, and teenagers still at home.


P.P.S. If you’ve ever hired us to do your estate planning or handle a probate or guardianship matter for you, I’d greatly appreciate if took a moment to post a quick online review about your experience with us. It helps others in a similar situation decide who they can trust and want to work with. You can do so here. Thanks!

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