This post is the first in my “Family Travel” series, which will include posts about places to go, family travel gear, tips for staying sane while traveling with them, and interviews with inspiring traveling families. (If you’re new, please hop over to Spreading Our Child’s Wings.)
This first post will look at some of the reasons not to travel with kids (from what other people say) and, of course, why I disagree with them.
1) You’re a parent now. Take your kids to Disneyland.
This was told to me on a travel forum where I asked for tips for traveling in Italy. I was surprised by one person’s response and the fact that it was then recommended by 22 other readers! Here it is:
“A two-year-old is hardly likely to appreciate what Italy has to offer. Sorry, but you’re a parent now. No more grown-up vacations for you. Try Disney or something.”
This just makes my blood boil!
“Sorry, but you’re a parent now.” The tone implies that I am denying my role as a parent, that I’m being selfish by wanting to travel to Italy with my toddler.
“No more grown-up vacations for you.” It’s not like I wanted to take him to Italy and then go to nightclubs or drag him to a bunch of museums. And I resent the separation between “grown-up” vacations and children’s vacations. We have fun doing things together. There is no need to cross off destinations because they’re not Disney. My son would be happy going anywhere as long as we are together.
And a word about Disney… I have two friends who love taking their daughters to Disneyworld/Disneyland, so there is no judgment coming from me on this one. I think that’s great for them, and I know their kids love it. However, I personally am NOT interested in spending my vacations with my kids at a Disney park. It’s expensive, involves a lot of lines and crowds, and is predictable. I also don’t want vacations to center around typical “children’s activities.” I’d prefer a place we can all enjoy. Maybe I’m a Scrooge… Let’s see if I change my tune on this one.
2) I’m not going to travel with my kids because they won’t even remember it later!
I hear this pretty often, so I know it’s a common sentiment. Before I explain why I disagree, I need to mention something. We have traveled with our older son several times because we have to. We have family in Brazil and Indonesia, and it’s important for us to visit them. This is especially true of Brazil, where we have a lot of family there who can’t all come visit us, and it’s very important to my husband to keep his cultural and linguistic ties to his native country.
Kids remember things earlier than we may expect. My son vividly remembers lots of things he did in Brazil when he was 3 years old. What is more important is that his travels have colored the person he is. He sees the world differently because of the trips he has taken with us. And at the same time, we have had so much fun traveling together.
3) There’s nothing for kids to do there.
There is always something for kids to do. They are explorers! With a little planning and a good attitude, just about any destination can be family-friendly. As part of this series, I will post tips for keeping kids entertained on the road. For now, keep in mind that children love to learn new things. Make any day out a time for learning about the world around them, from plants and bugs to transportation and new foods.
4) We don’t have the money for a big family vacation.
I know this feeling, but there are lots of less expensive alternatives, like road trips or renting a house. Keep it simple, and keep it close by if necessary.
5) The flight to _____ is too long.
Trust me, the flight to nowhere is too long. We have taken many long flights overseas with our older son, but we did a marathon trip once– we flew with my son from Sacramento, California to Bali. We took 3 flights, crossed 15 hours of time difference, traveled for a total of 29 hours, and did it all with a toddler who got sick right before we left and had a fever the whole way. We made sure he stayed hydrated and rested. We were exhausted, mentally and physically, but we made it. When we look back on the trip, we have tons of great memories, and the long flight was just a blip in those three weeks overseas. (Check out my tips for traveling with little ones on airplanes.)
6) Take the kids to Grandma’s.
GREAT idea. I would love to drop my kids off and take a trip somewhere without the hassle, but… not all parents can take their kids to grandma’s. Some kids (like my older one) are not comfortable being away from their parents for very long. Some kids may not want to stay at grandma’s for 2 weeks while the parents are away. Some grandparents are busy. I really hope to take a trip to Italy with my husband while my kids stay with family, but in the meantime, we enjoy traveling with our children.
Balancing family and travel is hard. In fact, balancing just about anything with kids is hard. I understand where some of these concerns come from. If you are a parent and aren’t sure about traveling with your kids, I hope that you may feel inspired to find the joy in exploring the world with your children.
What do you think about traveling with kids? What concerns and/or suggestions do you have?