Traveling with Kids
Staying true to the promise of “adventure” which we engraved on our rings ten years ago; we travelled extensively as a couple and we continue to travel as a family with our two little kids; and the question that we get asked often is “ is it hard traveling with kids?”
Well it all depends on your perspective: yes traveling with kids who need constant attention is very different but a little bit of context and mindset change can help. Here is how I look at it: every stage of life brings its own fun and challenges and embracing it all rather than trying to change or resist it helps me stay in control and happy. Reality is that we as parents really have about 10ish years when the kids NEED to hang out with us and maybe another 10ish years when they may come with us but prefer to do their own thing. Think about it, we will probably only have about 18 summers with kids at home and I want to embrace the limited time I have with them and enjoy all the chaos, craziness, energy and fun that comes along traveling with them. The point is yes you will not have the same freedom that you would have traveling without kids but that does not mean it's not fun!
So tip number one: Adjust your expectations: it’s a lot more work taking care of and entertaining the little kids and a lot less time for you and your partner to enjoy adult activities but again that does not mean it's not fun! Here is the golden opportunity to bring your inner silly kid out and relive your childhood through this little creation of your own. There is so much joy watching your kids' wondrous reactions the first time they experience things in the world: like getting on a plane, touching the sand & snow and even not following the same rules as at home. There is joy in teaching them about the process of travel and all the new things experienced together! Not to mention learning about new people, culture and foods.If you are convinced, here are few more tips to make traveling with kids a little easier and more joyful:
- Practice packing light and efficiently, it's an art but it does make things easier as you carry less stuff with kids. Do you really need to take everything? I.e. we usually only pack diapers and powder milk for a couple of days and buy more at the destination.
- Book tickets at more family friendly times to reduce the stress. I always try to get tickets mid to late morning or early afternoon so everybody gets a good night sleep, peaceful breakfast and has enough time to happily leave the house. Plus if your kid still takes a nap, the chance of an afternoon nap on a flight is high.
- Double/ triple check that you have all the required documents i.e. passports, entry forms, vaccination cards etc. you really don’t want a lot of surprises at the airport or train stations with kids.
- Pack enough snacks and entertainment for the way. Children usually have favorite obsessions at each age like stickers, play-dough, lego, paining and watching movies for older ones. Do your research and get something fun and novel for the age.
- Don’t plan too many activities in one trip and plan to stay in one place for at least 2-3 nights. Checking in and out with kids is a lot more work so if you want to have time to settle, relax and enjoy, don't rush things. It's better to enjoy one place happily and peacefully than stressfully moving around to see more.
- If you can; bring help like nanny, au pair, grandparents, other family/ friends with kids. This might cost more money but in my opinion it's worth it to have some extra pair of hands. You can also be selective of what kind of travel you need more help with. I.e. you probably need less help on a family beach vacation in Hawaii and more on a ski trip that you intend to ski or Europe trip where there could be more late night activities.
- Divide and conquer with your partner if you need time doing something you love. For example if you both need to get some exercise you can take turns walking with the stroller/ baby while the other hang with the older kid or take turns staying in for afternoon naps. There are a lot of creative ways to find time here and there for yourself if you need to.
- Get a family friendly place/ room with comfortable amenities. I usually try to get the ground floor with access to the outside from the balcony so it's much easier to get in and out with the stroller. Plus if you are on a beach vacation: when the kids are sleeping you can come to the garden and have a couples drink without having to really leave the room from the hallways. Or if we go skiing, I try to book a “ski in, ski out” place to reduce the effort to put everyone in the car, park and drag equipment. You might pay extra but I think it will be a wash when you consider all the time and effort to move kids around.
- Lastly, take it easy and loosen some of the rules like strict bedtime, diet, screen time etc. after all you made it to a nice vacation together and your kids will not be hurt if she/he eats few more french fries or stay up a little later but they will for sure remember the lovely memories created together with less of structure and more spontaneously.
Cheers to lots of fun and adventurous journeys for you and your family! Hit me up via email if you want to chat more.