Traveling with Kids
If you've been around for a while you've seen my number one road dog (aka travel partner) is my son. We've flown since he was three months old, taken long road trips and made some great memories on our journeys together. I've said before too many families think Disney trips are the best way to vacation with kids. Given the ever increasing prices you can just as easily see Mexico, Italy or the United Kingdom as stroll through the World Showcase at Epcot. With a little planning, traveling with kids can be a wonderful experience for everyone.
Travel is good for your health, helps the family bond(the mishaps make the best stories later!), exposes kids to new cultures and brings class work to life. Why not get them started early?! For even more inspiration read Ten Things Children Learn About Life While Traveling. Kids who travel build confidence and resilience in ways you won't get at home in familiar environments.
According to Project Time Off, “Sixty-one percent of kids say the way they want to spend quality time with their parents is on vacation. Yet, nearly a quarter (22%) of working parents reported that their last family vacation was more than a year ago. “ (Go read the report it's eye opening). Besides work reasons, there are some very real fears that keep parents from bringing kids along. Here's some tips on the three biggest issues most parents have with traveling with kids.
Flying – I swore off long flights for a while when my son was 2 because of a particularly stressful 5 hour flight. He was exceptionally active and we flew in the daytime. A major no-no! I was stressed the entire flight, but there are lots of tips out there to prevent this with a little planning now. The friend who suggested this topic has flown to Italy several times with TWO boys that I know are just as crazy as mine. It's totally doable! My top tips... Fly overnight when possible, let your little ones walk the long hallways and utilize the play areas at the airport. Download movies or shows for older kids and bring over the ear headphones. For non-electronic fun Pinterest has tons of ideas for activity bags to keep them occupied during the flight that you can get from the dollar store. They're probably going to annoy somebody in front of you no matter what, so just apologize in advance and hope for some sympathetic fellow travelers.
Eating – Just as food a source of conflict at home for some it can be hard to eat with kids abroad. If your kids aren't the adventurous sort you'll find something they can eat everywhere. Some nearly universal foods that you can find just about anywhere are rice, yogurt, potatoes, cheese , crackers etc. Go ahead and try some new foods yourself and just ask for plain sides for your kids. They may decide to sample something when they get tired of eating the same things, but if not at least they are taking in how these foods are prepared differently around the world. Just think of the many forms bread takes in different places. Tortillas, injera, naan, biscuits, baguettes... So it may not be the healthiest week of their lives, but they won't starve. Relax and just enjoy yourself anyway! If you're nervous about sit down dinners, try a cruise. Most servers on cruises are incredibly patient with kids and will make your evening so much easier.
Activities – Take tours geared toward families. Allow for plenty of rest and free play between historic sites. Does anybody else remember the 'Clipboard of Fun' from Full House?Don't be that guy! No one, probably not even your significant other wants to go on an Amazing Race style whirlwind of every important site in your destination. Have everyone make a list of their absolute must visits ahead of time and narrow them down based on the length of your visit. (Or give it to me! We can probably arrange some private tours to go at your own pace.) Go to a local playground you come across between tours and your hotel. It's amazing to watch kids who don't speak the same language find a game to play anyway.
Look for travel blogs written by families who have visited your destination before. So many world schoolers, travel bloggers and moms share their experiences online you're bound to find some insider tips on even the most obscure places. Some of my favorites are Travel With Kids, Globetrotting Mama and The Travel Mom but there are hundreds more.
Start with these easy tips and you're on your way to creating amazing memories together without the headaches. Are there any tips you've found invaluable while traveling with your kids?