I have always loved to travel. New sights, sounds, smells, food, culture, well anything really; the entire experience makes me happy.
That’s why when I had my girls, I never expected to stop. Travel would continue, albeit a wee bit differently, but continue for sure.
And it has. We haven’t missed a beat, there have been a few challenges thrown our way, but the result is more than worth it.
The girls have beautiful memories and so does this Mom, and even more importantly their appreciation for other cultures and people has grown considerably.
I know there are lots of people that are timid about including their children on a trip and I get it. There’s much more to think about when you take the littles than if you were going alone, with a friend or a partner.
Food dislikes, meltdowns due to delays, boredom on the flight all come along when the kids are with you, but consider this, adults often feel much the same, they handle it differently, that’s all.
I encourage you to give it a try if you haven’t done so already. In my opinion, it’s well worth every inconvenience and upset.
Here are some tips I’ve learned along the way, and while you’re reading, these are also good suggestions when you are traveling with adults as well!
Be mindful that you are traveling with people that might not have the same patience or interests as you. Five hours wandering around the Louvre might sound like a grand plan but that’s 4 hours too long for most children. Consider how you can modify the activity so that it will be enjoyable for everyone.
“Winging it” might work when you are traveling with adults who have a sense of adventure, but it doesn’t work with kids. The Internet provides amazing information on what activities can be found in every destination and with a little planning, you can create days that include age-appropriate diversions that will keep whining at bay.
Take along your children’s favorite snacks and foods that can be accommodated in a suitcase. There’s nothing better than to pull out those “Cheddar Bunnies” when your toddler declares that they’re hungry and tapas just won’t cut it.
Other than babies and toddlers, include your children in the planning process. Show them videos and pictures of your destination and start creating excitement well before you are on the plane, train, or in an automobile.
Keep in mind that every trip with a child doesn’t have to be to an amusement park. There are castles galore in Europe and lots of sites to spark your child’s imagination.
Kids need downtime when you’re not traipsing around being a tourist. Factor in time in the hotel room, watching a video or taking a nap. Don’t worry that you’re “wasting time” because if you push them too hard and for too long, the ensuing meltdown won’t be worth the extra time in the museum, or ride to another site.
Above all, be practical. You know your kids, their triggers as well as what they enjoy doing. And don’t forget that they are watching you, so if you start getting antsy while waiting in line or because the plane is delayed, they will follow along in kind.
My girls love to talk about our trips, and nothing makes me happier than to hear them talk about the places they’ve been and what they remember.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Are you keen to travel with your kids, or would you rather have root canal without Novocain?