Travel with Kids | The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
It’s almost been a whole week that we’ve been back home so what better time to touch on a subject I’ve been wanting to write about for a while. The good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to travel with kids.
In case you missed it, we boarded a total of 4 flights in two weeks with our two little boys, currently aged 3 years and 9months old. They actually did quite amazing! We spent some time in Adelaide and the bulk of our holiday in Melbourne. So as its all still fresh in mind, lets talk about the reality of travel with kids. Particularly with infants and young children.
TRAVEL WITH KIDS: Let’s be real
As you have probably gathered from our recent adventures, we are not afraid of a challenge. Because let’s be real, as much as I love my children and travelling, things are definitely more work now. I found that when we first travelled with Javi as a young toddler, it was a lot easier than with the 2 1/2 year old we took through South East Asia. However despite the challenges, it has all been a worthwhile experience for the whole family.
So without further ado…
You are away from home and the usual stressors, you know, 20 meals ready everyday while maintaining a clean house and dealing with crazy amounts of laundry that seem to appear out of thin air. If its your run of the mill holiday, usually these things are being done for you. You are eating out for most meals, breakfast is included and perhaps you are dropping off your laundry to be done for you. Oh and of course, your room gets cleaned on the daily. Awesome! This means that not only are you a less stressed parent, you get a lot more quality time with your significant other and your kids.
Since your meals are being cooked for you, you get more time to simply sit down and enjoy your family. There’s more room for chitchat and games. You get to visit and explore new places. There’s nothing like having new experiences and also seeing your children grow with them. In Bangkok, Javi picked up a few Thai words and of course we thought it was the cutest thing ever and then in Port Phillip when waiting for the penguin parade, not only did I sit in awe when these beautiful animals appeared, but even more so seeing the still face of amazement and wonder on my 3 year old.
When you travel with kids there are also less distractions. We love that when we travel Javi is far to busy to remember his cartoons or to even grab his tablet. He finds random items and they can be whatever he wants them to be. It sure makes me question the room filled with toys he’s got back at home.
I also like to think that travelling teaches our kids flexibility and respect. As Javi was a bit older this time around we got to talk a lot more about being in different places and observing the rules. Travelling reinforces trust between family members as you are keeping each other safe and in close quarters all the time. But hey, that could be a whole other post in itself!
This is not to say that because your usual daily chores are taken care off that all stress has been removed. Definitely not! You might not need to worry about fitting in a lot of things in any given day or the crazy race to bedtime each day, but you still have to make sure everyone’s needs are being met .
When you travel with kids each new place you visit comes a new wave of adjustment. Especially in the little ones. The first few days of our trip were definitely challenging. Three year olds can get easily overwhelmed and lash out as they still struggle with managing their emotions and impulse control. He was a very angry little boy for a few days. You can’t just get to a place, get up and go without getting some form of resistance.
Its slow going! As an adult you can get by (although not ideal) on little sleep, skipping meals or delaying a bathroom stop. With young kids?? ha..ha..ha. Prepare to increase your patience times a hundred and to change multiple nappies before you make it out the door.
Also, you thought you were tired? Although mentally being away helps you feel more refreshed and more able to take on the world, physically travelling with kids is draining! From wrangling the 9 month old wriggler, to carrying the 3 year old in a crowd. Being exhausted takes a new meaning.
Even though the good stuff that comes from travel with kids is actually amazing, guilt still crops up. Parenting is hard, the biggest learning curve you’ll ever encounter. As you start to think you’ve got things figured out and under control, your kid turns into a toddler. When you think okay, this is not so bad, they turn 3 and you wonder why the 2’s are even called terrible! And hey, they’ll turn into teens one day. Anyway, what i am trying to say is that with every age there is a challenge. If the going can get hard at home, it will get hard when on the road. Just magnified as you are likely to be more exposed and conscious of your surrounding and spectators.
Most recently, Javi completely lost it when we were at the Eureka Sky Deck in Melbourne. He would not let us change his nappy, and when we finally got a clean one on amid screams, he would pull down his pants and rip it off while hysterically sobbing. This was probably his worst tantrum to date! So there he was. All sad and small, standing in a public space hugging his daddy with his bum out for all to see. As for us, the first few minutes were nerve wrecking but then we were holding back laughs at the ridiculousness of the situation.
And going back to the guilt, it’s a parent trait hard to switch off whenever your kid is having a hard time and you feel all responsible for it. Even more so when travelling, because you took them away from home and naturally, also irrationally, its all your fault.
Compromised sleeping arrangements! Surely we cant be the only ones that skimp on getting a second room while our kids are so young. This usually means we are all in the same room, and oftentimes we all end up sharing a queen bed.
And how about the lack of baby and toddler proofed rooms where you can relax for a minute? Usually when staying in paid accomodation, the first thing we do is to put things away that could break or hurt our kids. However when in Adelaide, we stayed with David’s 92 year old nana. Although she had tons of room for all of us and then some. The whole place was filled with trinkets, pots and breakables. This made it impossible to have a breather without leaving the house.
Lastly, you are it! When you are away from home, there are no trusted friends or family members to help when the going gets tough. Unless you get a babysitter, which we struggle to do, you are there 24/7. When you are frustrated, tired, in need of a break, recharging turns into a hassle.
But dont let all this deter you from getting out in the world and travel with kids. If anything, i hope it gives you a broader view so you can tackle it and use it to your advantage. The good stuff far outweighs the bad moments which is why we’ll continue to travel with our little guys.
What has been your most memorable moment when on the road?
Also while you are here, check out these tips!