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!
The World n Us
Travel with Kids | Travel Blog | Travel Vlog
I don’t have kids, but I have a million friends who do, and seemingly every one of them, experienced or not, is worried about an upcoming trip with their kids. Even those who have traveled with their kids before worry about the next stage of childhood with their kids when traveling, so I think the more articles about the reality of travel with a family, the better. Cheers to you.
Thank you Tom! In our endeavour to inspire other families with young children to get out there and travel, I feel it’s important to share the whole picture. At the end of the day even when at home not every day is rainbows and sunshine haha.
Honestly, I am terrified of having kids. I feel they will hamper by goal of travelling the world and making up a career. ofcourse there are a million women who do both amazingly well but i just do not the confidence and patience to do it. Hats off to you.
It’s definitely a game changer and life will never be the same! However that’s why we are here! I feel that by sharing our adventures we can show that travel is possible and even enjoyable with kids😉 If you do have them, I’m sure you’ll be amazed at how resourceful you’ll become 😊
I have a friend who is mom to a little girl and is terrified of traveling, even if before to get pregnant she loved it. I’ll link her this article because it was a great read and I’m sure she’ll appreciate it too. Thank you for posting!
Thank you Dany! We have a few articles including some with tips so I hope they help her get out there and do it anyway. How old is her little girl? Tell her to connect with us on fb and I’ll be happy to chat to her and answer any questions she may have.
My kids are a little older now, 8,8 and 6. The infant and preschool years were overwhelming. Traveling alone with them to visit relatives by car was logistically difficult. Thank you for your honesty about what it is like to travel with children sometimes. Fortunately, the kids are a little older and love to travel and discover new things.
I can imagine that would have been difficult! The younger they are the more hands on it is. Although I can still remember road trips with my parents and sisters and how crazy we used to drive them haha
I can’t imagine travelling with kids, I’m still a long way off before I do. My parents where so great when we were kids though. Created so many beautiful memories while on holidays. Something I can’t wait to do when the time comes 😊
I think it’s great that your kids aren’t hampering you from traveling. I still remember trips I took with my parents. I know it’s hard but your kids will be more well rounded and appreciate the memories when they get older.
My most memorable trip with my 2.5 year old was ending up with a 5 hour layover in an airport, just the two of us, his carseat on a luggage roller, and a small daypack. I think we did at least 5 laps of the whole airport just to waste time, sometimes he would walk, somtimes he wanted to ride in his seat. Lugging all that stuff around (and into the bathroom/resturaunt, etc.) was a lot for those 5 hours, and keeping a 2.5 year old entertained in an airport too!
Love this blog post. I’ve taken my thirteen month old on short flights (2 hours) and a few 10 hour road trips back home(we are a military family). Traveling with a little one definitely brings the good, bad, and ugly as you mentioned. When my son was younger, he was so much easier to travel with. Now as a toddler, he makes it a little more challenging when he doesn’t understand why he cannot roam the plane or get out of his car seat. Major props to you for traveling so far with them!
This puts things in perspective! Planning an international trip in one month. My four month old will be with me.
Thanks for sharing pros and cons, this is interesting.
I love this. It is exactly how I think it would be. Its really how it is even when we go on extended weekend trips to the coast. I so look forward to traveling to Thailand with my babies!!!
Traveling with little ones is definitely a challenge, but I agree that it can be worth the extra stress in the end! The more they travel as young kids, the better they will travel as older kids!
Traveling with kids can be hard work but at the same time it’s so nice to experience different parts of the world with your kids and give them that experience while they are young. I have one child and my husband and I always travel with him. Great post!
This is amazing! Would love to be able to travel to all these places with my kids some day.
The first time I travelled with the baby he was so calm, we did over 300km- he slept the whole way through (that’s 6hrs), but when coming back he was so cranky and stubborn. The change of environment hit him hard- changed his sleeping pattern and all but I’m glad we came back home and everything went back to normal after a week. Kids are just like flowers, lol!