Find the truth behind family travel and flying with a toddler. It won’t be easy, but travel with kids may just be your most rewarding adventure yet.
This is not an article on how to make travel with children easy.
Travel with children is not easy.
There’s no magical item to stash in the baby travel essentials that will ensure a 24-hour flight will be a joy, sprinkled with fairy dust and giggles (despite all those tips for flying with a toddler on packing Homemade playdough or a new toy for every hour of the flight).
Well, perhaps the air hostesses can 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.
International travel with kids is hard. Local travel with kids is hard.
With one child, travel is hard. With two it is hard and if like our family, the rug rats outnumber the grown-ups, it’s hard.
Traveling with baby and toddler is enough to test anyone’s sanity.
How to travel with kids is a whole new ball game from normal parenting and far removed from your backpacker days. But you can travel the world with children and there is so much you will all gain from family travel.
Travel With Kids
Travel 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.
Instead of wondering if you really need 5 pairs of shoes for yourself, you will be worrying about the right travel car seat for a 2-year-old and how many outfits your offspring are likely to go through in a day.
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 in case 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 favorite last week, not this week.
Before you book in down the road though.
Yes, travel with children is hard work, and sometimes you will seriously question your sanity. The thing is though. Travel 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 with travel 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.
Traveling to Europe with kids from Australia is a bit of a mission.
I know the 24-hour flight 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 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 aircrew).
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. So maybe I am not the place to come for tips for flying with kids!
The best places to travel with children?
Don’t think you need to plan all your trips for kids around their needs. Going on a family vacation that has something for every member of the family…including the grown-ups is a great way to teach children about compromise, patience, and empathy.
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 learned 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.
Travel for children is all about adventure and learning. Not ticking off must-see items.
It is also a chance for you and your children to really connect. To discover more about each other and yourselves. A chance to learn and explore.
Not only because you are all in a new environment but because you don’t have all the trappings of home around you.
Simple things like the children not having access to toys can make a huge difference and helps them to expand their imaginations and fight boredom.
Want to know more about why children not having toys is such a great thing? Click here to find out why not having toys can be a great benefit to children.
Travel Books For Children
Want your child to learn about a destination before you go? There are some amazing travel books for children. You can get destination specific or just spark their imaginations with some books like these below which are our own families favorites.
Discovering more about the locals
Another bonus of exploring travel destinations with kids 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. Like the amazing lady on the Isle of Skye who let us feed her sheep and cooked muffins for the kids.
We have learned 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. It is one of the best travel with kids benefits. Learning tolerance and understanding of how others live.
So next time you see an article on how to make travel 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.
Planning ahead is a great way to make sure you have the best time possible when finding places to travel with kids and travel hacks.
From packing the right gear for family travel to following a few tips for flying with a baby or how to keep a toddler entertained during a flight from others that have been and done it all before you.Lonely Planet Travel With Children
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What is your favorite part of family travel? We would love to hear your travel with kids stories.