Kids and travel – a happy mix?
I think our kids are great.
I don’t think there’s a parent in the world who doesn’t think that about their kids.
Does that mean I like travelling with them?
At this point in time, I can confidently answer that question with a resounding – YES.
Don’t get me wrong.. it’s frustrating, tiring and at times, really quite disgusting. But I can truly say, as someone who’s done a lot of travel both independently and with other people, kids and travel are a perfect mix.
Travelling with our kids has provided some of the most engaging, fun and memorable trips we have ever been lucky enough to enjoy. Let me see if I can explain why with some recent examples.
Kids take stuff in their stride
First of all, kids have an uncanny ability to roll with things. By way of an example, let me share a short story.
It was a rough day on the water travelling by fast ferry to Athens, and the boat was very bumpy. Little Chubs was cruising around enjoying the sensation of the boat moving and every now and then you’d hear a little squeal of delight or a ‘whoa’ as there was a big bump. He was having a ball!
All of a sudden, he comes over and sits on my lap (which is very unusual). He’s gone all quiet and he’s resting. Then he starts to sniff and tears are rolling down his cheeks. “What’s the matter sweetie?” I ask him. “Got a sore head Mama” he wails. Lovely Hubby and I both look at each other, fearing the worst – did something happen while he was walking? Did he bump his head? Is it a brain tumor? All the usual completely irrational parent fears.
Next thing he wails again “Got a sore head Mama” and I lift him up so Lovely Hubby can see him better, just as we notice him go a lovely shade of white. Next thing, he’s projectile vomiting up his lunch and breakfast straight into Daddy’s hands.
We’re both dancing around yelling ‘eww’ and trying to get sick bags, napkins and whatever else we can find to try to deal with the situation. “Did you bring spare clothes?” “Where are the wet wipes?” “You shouldn’t have fed him” “Well you shouldn’t have let him run around”. An urgent exchange occurs along with various expletives and panicked noises.
Then we looked over at the Chubs where we plonked him down and there he is sitting and staring at us, amazingly unperturbed by the whole incident. His lovely sister did not even look up from her book the entire time.
There are always many incidents like this whenever we travel: mummy and daddy are panicking and the kids are just cruising along. They seem to just have this uncanny ability to get on with things and accept that things happen and you deal with them and move on. A good lesson for all of us!
Kids like to be ‘doing’
As anyone who has kids will know, kids are not big fans of sitting around talking. They like to be out and doing!
When you travel with kids, because they’re so into everything and they appreciate being entertained, it forces you to get out there and do things as well.
They get up early and they’re ready to go and do stuff. Frustrating as this can be for parents who just want to have a bit of a sleep in, once you embrace this fact you will find that you will make so much more of each day.
On our recent trip, we did a bit of island hopping – Cyprus, Paros and Santorini. At all stages of the journey, wherever we were and whatever we were doing, the kids would want to be a part of it:
- Out on the boat exploring the islands, they were there wanting to drive the boat
- Every town we’d visit, they’d be looking out for a playground
- Wandering through cobbled streets of lovely old European cities and they’re playing hide and seek in doorways
- Strolling through tourist areas, they actually want to do the little tourist things on offer. We’ve had tarot card readings, engaged with buskers and hung out in a mirror maze
- They charm people in shops, restaurants and in the streets and make friends really easily. Usually this results in great opportunities to meet new people and have many lovely moments with strangers.
As a result of their thirst for experience and high levels of energy that you can’t help but feed off them. If you look at the positives of all the early mornings and whinging of “I’m bored” during the day you realise that this is what gets you going. Keeping the kids amused ensures that you make the most of every little interaction along the way.
Kids live in the moment
Another great thing your kids will bring to the table is their ability to live in the moment.
I think, as an adult travelling alone or with friends, it’s easy to miss out on a lot of fun, silly moments. These days, we spend a lot of time on our devices – answering emails, looking at or posting on FB or taking photos.
This can mean that you miss out on some amazing moments that are easy to skip or ignore.
One of my best memories from Santorini was one afternoon, we put some music on our little stereo and sat out on the deck for the sunset. First of all Lovely Hubby and I were focussed on taking photos and posting stuff on Facebook.
After a few minutes we realised we were missing all the action happening with the kids.
We looked over and there they were dancing and singing together and really just enjoying being silly and having fun!
So, we put down our devices and joined them in some family boogie time. We had not a care for what the thousands of tourists standing above us looking out at the same sunset would think.
As a result, this is now a memory that is burned on my brain to take all the way to the grave. The warm sun dipping spectacularly behind the volcano as our little family danced the evening away to some happy tunes. So fabulous!
kids will fall asleep anywhere
Finally, know that if kids are tired enough, they can fall asleep in the most unlikely places. When you are travelling and dealing with things like jet lag and broken routines I think that this is even more the case.
The Chubs has fallen asleep in the strangest of places:
- In his pram being pushed across big boulders and rocks among the spectacular rocks of Petra. His little head was clanging from one side of the pram to the other
- In the world’s bumpiest old 4wd scooting around Cyprus on my lap. He didn’t even stir when I hoiked him over my shoulder to schlep around a museum of Cypriot history
- He slumbered undisturbed while we were trying to navigate the fastest, steepest escalator in Prague without injuring or killing ourselves
Granted, not many of these activities were particularly kid-friendly nor wildly appropriate for a 2-year-old. However, given their circumstances, they were strange places in which to have a nap. He clearly has no regard for his own comfort, nor that of his mother (who was mostly either holding or pushing him).
You simply have to admire that committment to nap times. Maybe our boy is a little too committed!
However, I know there are many parents out there who are scared to travel with their kids as they are worried about things like nap times.
If you take nothing else from these stories, believe me. If your kids are tired enough, they will sleep anywhere! Consequently, don’t make breaking their routine an excuse to not get out there and travel.
So there you have it – four great things that kids bring to add a new dimension to your travels. My conclusion is that we should enjoy every second as the cliché really is true that they are only little for such a short amount of time. Make sure you make the most of those opportunities to just be silly and try everything on offer.
See things through a kid lens – you may never get the chance again!
Like and share if you agree and as always, love to hear your thoughts and comments.