Travelling With Kids: Yea or Nay?

I came across this post that I wrote several years ago, before number three was even on the way, and I can’t believe how much our lives have changed.  We’ve had the opportunity to travel as a family and experience incredible adventures together that I will forever treasure.  Does it ever amaze you how quickly the time flies by and in what seems like a blink years have passed?

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“Having kids is not going to change our life”.  That was the mantra that my husband and I would repeat as newlyweds.  Above all else, we were going to continue our love affair with travelling. In our ignorant opinion, parents who compromised were just lazy.  Fast-forward a few years, 2 kids and a mini-van (gasp!) later, I am agonizing with my husband whether or not we should pack the bathing suits along with lots of patience and take our two young boys on vacation.

This will be the third trip we have taken with precious cargo.  When our first born, was only 5 months old we set off in our sporty SUV for a driving trip around Quebec.  It was everything we imagined travelling with a child to be:  our darling baby lulled to sleep for hours by the hum of the road and late night romantic dinners while our babe, snuggled in his stroller, dozed soundlessly.   Sure, it took some planning but travel was entirely possible with little ones.

My smugness bit me on the nose aboard an Air Canada jet a few months later.  Suffering from an unknown allergic reaction, our one year old threw up chewed pineapple all over himself, my husband and me.  The poor business traveler squished in the seat beside us was spared, thankfully.  Being the good mother that I was, I had a fresh sleeper for him but my husband and I spent the rest of the flight avoiding the uncomfortable glances of neighbouring passengers.  All of our hopes were dashed with greater speed than projectile vomit.  Swollen hives, wakeful nights and general misery presided over the weeklong holiday.  I found myself counting the hours until we’d be back home.

When our second son was born, we were wiser, more experienced.  So when my in-laws announced that they wanted to take the entire family on holiday this summer to commemorate a special birthday, my husband and I exchanged looks of terror.  A six-hour car ride with two kids under 3?   Celebratory meals in nice restaurants?  Uh, no thanks.  After plying us with wine, we reluctantly gave our consent.  The car ride was surprisingly pleasant (thank you DVD player) but the five days of torrential rain and being confined to two small rooms was enough to make even Mother Teresa lose her cool.

The problem remains that when we consider resigning all vacations with the kids until post-puberty we are reminded of our own childhoods.   As a boy my husband would ski all day with his brothers and then return to the cabin to engage in shenanigans that to this day make them bust up with laughter.  I remember trips to Disney World, and what remains with me today more than the vision of Cinderella’s castle, are the times that my work-a-holic father was freed from his cell phone and over-stuffed briefcase.

A few days ago while I was walking the boys to school, I overheard an angst-ridden teenaged girl whine to her friend that her parents were making her go to Mexico for Christmas vacation.  The friend agreed that her parents were being “totally unfair”.  What ungrateful and undeserving brats!  While listening to their whining it occurred to me, there might come a time when my boys would rather be in the company of their friends than explore the world with their parents.  That night my husband and I confirmed a flight reservation.  The vacations that we take with our kids are different than the ones we enjoyed as a carefree couple but I won’t trade the sleepless nights, frantic airports or all-you-can-eat buffets for anything.

The reality is that I am selfish.  I want to see their little faces awash with excitement when we step across the gate at the Magic Kingdom and I want it to be my hand they reach for when we are jostled about in a crowded bazaar.  I know it will not be long before they are grown men, who will want a different woman at their side.

They make travel with kids look so easy. Now that's acting!

They make travel with kids look so easy. Now that’s acting!

18 thoughts on “Travelling With Kids: Yea or Nay?

  1. Aw such a good post and a great point…I totally agree and we currently travel with our 1 year old. Took him on a road trip from NY to FL at 4 months and to England & Spain at 6 months. This year we’re a little nervous to take him on a plane but will definitely be doing a road trip. It’s hard (and I’m sure I’ll laugh at this when #2 comes along) but I agree you’ve got to take your kids on adventures when they’re young!

  2. Reblogged this on Travel with Twins and commented:
    Great article. It is always a BIG YEA from us. Traveling with babies and toddler is really hard and I agree with one of the post that it was a trip, not a vacation. However, I am a firm believer of planning before you travel. Being a parents that love to travel, you must one be a mathematician, psychologist, actor, CEO, doctor, lawyer, etc. Do not loose your passion for travel just because of having kids. For example, we used to be a backpackers and took night bus or train to avoid the hotel fee. Now with kids, we stayed in the room with kitchenette instead so we can save money from eating out. Yes, there are no more of the honeymoon phase where we can do anything that we want but we trained our twin girls from young to take a two hours day nap in the stroller so we can have a nice quiet lunch for two hours in a fancy restaurant or coffee with cake. We also trained them to go to bed at the same time at night or in the stroller so we can plan to have the candlelight or fancy dinner with the double stroller next to us sleeping quietly.

    • Absolutely – everything changes with kids but we don’t necessarily change everything about ourselves! Thanks for stopping by and truthfully, anyone who travels with young twins is tops in my books 🙂

  3. I only have one child – she’s 15 months and since she’s learned how to walk, she’s on the move all the time! Since she’s been born, we’ve taken her to Singapore (18 hours via plane ride from where we are in LA!), Hong Kong, and to a few places in the US.

    I have to say, I REALLY HATE traveling with my baby. I’m always at a loss as to how to entertain her on a long flight, or how to make sure she uses her “indoor voice”. I always find myself apologizing for disturbing others! Maybe I’m doing it all wrong, because even though I plan for everything, I always come out of the other end of the trip more exhausted than when I began it!

    • You’re doing nothing wrong. That’s life with kids 🙂 PS – don’t feel you need to apologize to the other passengers. Whenever I am without kids and I see parents struggling my heart aches more for them than I feel irritated by crying. It’s not easy! Nope, it’s not easy! Hang in there (ps – I couldn’t even fathom an 18 hr plane ride as an adult so the fact that she hung in there . . . kudos!)

  4. I travel often with my little ones, and since I have 5 children of various ages. I have done this for a long time. I have learned that they have to help carry their own weight. They each help carry things and above all they must keep up. Sometimes you have to let some things go.

  5. Great post. My husband and I just started travelling with our little ones and unlike you, we felt travelling would never be the same once we had kids and almost gave up on the idea. But we tried recently with a 5-hour car ride up north and the kids were so well behaved …or maybe my expectations were so low.? either way, we are looking forward to more trips together.

    • Kids always manage to impress me. We have had some wonderful trips with the boys and I find when my expectations are low (more likely just being realistic), we all have a better time. Thanks for stopping by!

      Ps – I totally felt like a teenage mom at 25!!

  6. A friend of mine once wisely advised me that while people always worry about traveling with the kids when they are young because they won’t remember anything about the trip or the destination, YOU will always remember the first time you say your baby step on sand and wonder what it was or the look of wonder on their face with every new experience. Don’t wait to travel with your kids!

  7. My husband and I moved to Germany when our twins were only six months old, and we have been traveling all over Europe with our boys (now almost two) ever since. Trips with little ones demand a lot of patience and prep work (particularly that nine hour drive back from Italy), but I have to say that they have made our trips that much more meaningful.

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