This is not an article on how to make traveling with children easy.
Traveling with children is not easy. There’s no magical item to stash in your hand luggage that will ensure a 24 hour flight will be a joy, sprinkled with fairy dust and giggles. Well, perhaps the air hostesses provide that from the drink cart. However you’re a responsible parent now so it’s only an option for all those other passengers onboard. Yes, those ones who sat glaring in your direction at the boarding gate while chanting the mantra in their heads…please not near them…please not near them.
Traveling with children is hard.
With one child, travelling is hard. With two it is hard and if, like our family, the rug rats outnumber the grown ups, its hard.
Forget How You Used To Travel
Traveling with children usually means, forget the light packing, leisurely sightseeing, impromptu day trips to that cute monastery and not booking accommodation. It’s not as much fun crashing on the beach if you can’t find a suitable place to sleep with the family as it was when it was just you and your partner. Trust me.
You have to forget about the way you used to travel. The way you packed, the type of accommodation you used to stay in, the sort of activities you did…everything. You have to start the travel experience all over again.
All this may have you thinking your next holiday will involve going to your local caravan park. Pretending you are miles from home but in reality close enough to go back home. You know… just incase you need to get another pair of shorts when your child has decided that three pairs in one day is just not sufficient. Or you foolishly brought the teddy that was their favourite last week, not this week.
Before you book in down the road though. Yes, traveling with children is hard work, and sometimes you will seriously question your sanity. The thing is though. Traveling with children is also one of the most amazing and rewarding things you will ever do with and for your children.
You will get to see the world through a whole new pair of eyes ( or three in our case ). You will travel slower and take more time to really enjoy what you experience and see. You will do things that you would never even have considered traveling sans children. And it is beyond fantastic.
Accept There Will Be Tough Moments
A few years ago we added Scandinavia and the Baltic to our growing list of family travels.
My eldest son was seven. I was especially excited to take him to Russia as he has had a bit of a thing for the country for years. He’s been able to point it out on a map since he was three. When my husband and I managed to sneak a romantic weekend away to Melbourne once, he was informing everyone we’d escaped to Russia. To be able to take him there and watch him soak it all up, comparing what he thought it would be like to the reality filled me up like a soap-bubble.
I know the 24 hour flight to Europe was long and filled with “why am I doing this moments”. Especially as my five year old son did not cope well with being confined in one spot for too long. In true Gemini form he will be okay one minute then all hell breaks loose. On the last flight we took to Europe, a very kind air hostess took him from me during one of these episodes and went for a stroll around the plane ( coming back with photo’s of him giggling surrounded by all the air crew). I’d like to think she did it when she saw the desperation in my eyes but it was probably more to do with keeping all the other passengers aboard from staging a mutiny.
A New Way To Experience Travel
During the six weeks we were away we had the usual whingeing, whining and tears ( and that’s just from me) but we also had some amazing family moments. I get all teary when I remember my children bouncing up and down with the excitement they couldn’t hold in their little bodies as we visited Santa in Lapland. I really looked at the little mermaid statue in Copenhagen when my four year old daughter shouted “Look mummy a real mermaid” instead of quickly taking a photo and moving on to the “next thing to see”. I learnt what a viking toilet was like instead of learning about their migration across Europe ( the word poo in our home causes hilarity for hours). And we have stories to tell around our dinner table for years to come about how we ate that weird tasting fish or saw the Berlin Wall.
Discovering more about the locals
Another bonus of travelling with children is making friends with the locals. People love children and you will find that locals will offer a much bigger and fun welcome to your family. We have learnt new customs and language skills all through people interacting with our children. As parents we get such joy out of watching our children say thank you in another language and learning all about this great big world they live in.
It still amazes me to see a group of children playing and having so much fun without being able to understand a word they say to each other.
So next time you see an article on how to make traveling with children easy, by all means read it. Every little thing that helps you survive is worth it. But please don’t expect it to be easy. Instead expect it to be eye-opening, hard work and above all amazing.
Want to see why other families choose to travel with kids? Head over to this great post.
What have been your most amazing moments travelling as a family?