Our family has an ever-growing love for travel. We prioritize exposing ourselves and our children to diverse cultures, creating lasting memories. While it hasn’t always been easy, the rewards have far outweighed the challenges. In this blog, I will share our real-life experiences, insights, and helpful tips on traveling with kids.
Meet my family!
13 years ago I boarded a plane with my husband and our then 3-month-old daughter. To my surprise, we were upgraded to first class! Most people would be thrilled, but I was on the verge of tears. This was our first flight with our little girl. I had no idea how the pressure would affect her ears or if she would eat, cry, or have a mess in her diaper! All the scenarios were running through my head as we sat down. I had her diaper bag ready to go and within reach. The look of panic on my face was evident as the flight attendant came by to ask for my drink order. She assured me it would be ok and said she would keep the drinks coming.
However, I was more concerned about those who paid for their seats. They definitely did not want a crying, crabby baby in their first-class area. I assumed it was going to be miserable, but after one Jack and diet for me, and a bottle for my daughter, it was a seamless flight.
She smiled at people, giggled, and slept. As we exited the plane, I thanked the flight attendants for their kindness. Others complimented our daughter’s ability to travel; I swore I would never take an upgrade with a baby again- surely this was a one-time shot with such a great, dispositioned child!
That was the first flight of many, as travel became a part of our family (economy-plus seats from now on). We now have two children, and I’m grateful our son was not in that first-class seat as it would not have been the same experience! Our kids are now well-seasoned travelers. But, it took years to get them to the point where they can pack their own items (I still check the bags) to make long flights doable.
Traveling with our kids is important to us for a few reasons.
First, we want our kids to have experiences that allow them to be globally diverse citizens with an understanding of other cultures.
Second, we want to show them parts of the world that have inspired us, amazed us, and left us wanting more.
And finally, we want to create memories and bonds that will last their lifetime – not only with us, but with the places we travel.
Is it always easy? No. Is it always relaxing? No. However, my husband and I look at our kids, now 10 and 13, and realize we only have so much time with them under our roof. We hope they continue traveling with us as they grow, but know that while we have the opportunity, we need to take the risks, the good, the bad and the ugly!
The good news is that after a decade of traveling the world with my family, I’ve developed a pretty good list of tips and tricks to make things run smoothly.
Tips and Tricks for Traveling With Kids:
Always have a plan to keep kids entertained when you travel
Devices, devices, devices! Although we would rather they take a break from electronics on vacation, it’s an easy solution to keep them occupied during travel time or unexpected delays. Beyond that, the kids can use the device for photos, maps, and even a scavenger hunt for new discoveries!
Try having your older kids research where to go for dinner or what to do with 2 hours in a new place. Engaging them in the travel planning process gives them purpose, rather than feeling like they’re just along for the ride.
Expect the unexpected – and always get travel insurance!
What happens if one of the kids gets sick, strains a ligament, or breaks a bone while traveling?
It has happened! Thankfully, we were in Hawaii and our insurance was valid. However, had that happened on an international trip (where a passport is needed), we could have spent thousands out of pocket covering the medical bills. This summer we are traveling the Mediterranean for two weeks and the conversation of insurance came up. I did not even bat an eye. It is a MUST. We will be on a ship for 7 days and the idea of anything short of a sniffle causes for pause.
It may seem like an expense that is unnecessary, but one slip could send your vacation to a crashing halt. You may be stuck with no way home or an unclear understanding of medical expenses. The peace of mind that comes from having insurance is worth the cost itself.
Plan travel with kids in mind, not as an afterthought
Traveling with kids is really different than traveling with your significant other or with a group of adults. The time between itinerary items might need to be longer, there are extra expenses to consider, and not all excursions or even restaurants are suitable for kids.
When you decide to bring the whole family along for your trip, it’s essential to plan an itinerary that will be fun, safe, and enjoyable for everyone. Ask your kids what they want to do while you’re on vacation, and find out what they’re most excited about. Your travel agent can help you plan activities and make reservations that will be the right fit for your family.
Traveling with kids: the bottom line
We understand that traveling with kids is not always easy, but there are valuable lessons to learn along the way. Through personal experience, we hope to inspire others to embark on their own family adventures. Remember, it’s not just about the destination, but the bonds we strengthen and the memories we create along the way.
Contact R3 Travel today and let us plan your next family getaway!