My husband, Mike, and I have always loved traveling. We’ve made it a priority to see as much of the world as possible together. But, everyone kept telling us to “get it out of our system” because we wouldn’t travel anymore once we had kids. We chose not to believe the hype and our daughter has traveled more in two years than many do in a lifetime. Let me help clear up a few of the most common misconceptions we’ve heard about traveling with kids.
1. Traveling with kids is too expensive
Admittedly, more people equals more money BUT it may not be as bad as you think. Here are a few reasons why:
- Kids under two are free for nearly everything. You can fly with them on your lap. They eat free at many restaurants. They don’t need an admission ticket for museums and theme parks. And even after infancy, many places offer reduced rates until the child is about 12 years old.
- Your accommodations can be tweaked to better fit your budget and lifestyle. Consider booking a vacation rental property like a home or a condo where you can have separate bedrooms and a kitchen (often for the same price per night as a hotel). Then, save money by putting together quick meals on your own instead of eating out three times a day. VRBO, Airbnb, and HomeAway are all popular options but you can also Google private rental companies in the area you’re planning to visit. Mike and I own a cabin in Blue Ridge, Georgia that we rent out to families in exactly this way. Click here to check it out, but you should know that you will be helping to support my family financially if you decide to actually rent it 🙂
- Traveling as a family, you’re substantially less likely to devote resources to drinking, gambling, spa visits, and other activities with a minimum age requirement. Those funds can be reallocated for family adventures. Even if you didn’t spend money on things like that B.C. (Before Children), you likely packed A LOT of activities into each day of your trip, each with a separate admission fee. With kids in tow, you’ll enjoy a slower pace which means fewer activity expenses.
2. It brings out the worst in kids
Ever visited Disney World and seen all the whining kids in the late afternoon? Chances are, their parents tried to pack in as much “fun” as possible. Traveling with kids doesn’t bring out the worst in them… but setting unrealistic expectations totally can! If your preschooler religiously has chocolate milk for breakfast every single day and you suddenly deprive them of it, it’s probably unfair to expect them to acquiesce without complaint. (Think about how you feel without your morning cup of coffee!) Same goes for naps, mealtimes, or anything else that is an integral part of their routine. Continue incorporating as many of these things into their day as possible and they’ll be much more likely to accept the unavoidable difficulties in stride.
3. You shouldn’t bother traveling with kids because they aren’t going to remember it anyway
Listen, I doubt my two year old is going to remember what she got for Christmas this year. But we still bought her presents, because WE enjoyed the experience of doing that for her. There’s also a strong possibility that she isn’t going to remember her weekly music classes, or the trips to the playground, but we still go to them. Why? Because they are good for her! They are enriching experiences that help her learn to interact with people and the world around her. Traveling teaches her to be accepting of people who are different from her. She will learn to be flexible, patient and curious, among a myriad of other wonderful traits you can learn from traveling. So even if she remembers NONE of the places we’ve been, I’ll still consider it worth the effort to take her on as many trips as possible. But that said, kids remember far more than we give them credit for. Don’t be surprised when someone mentions Myrtle Beach and your 3 year old says, “I been there!” Or, when your Florida-born toddler immediately recognizes the concept of snow even though she’s only ever seen it that one time on your trip to Alaska.
4. It’s too dangerous
Unless you’re planning a family vacation to Syria or North Korea, your family is probably just as safe on vacation as they are at home. Reykjavik, Iceland isn’t likely to be much scarier than Boise, Idaho. Do a little research and ask for recommendations from friends before you book a trip. Get the appropriate vaccinations if you’re traveling out of the country. Pack/rent a car seat if you need it. Trust your instincts and pay attention to your surroundings while you’re wandering a new city. Use your common sense but don’t drive yourself crazy by worrying about every what-if scenario. Bad things can happen anywhere in the world whether you are 5 miles or 5 days away from home. But you can’t be afraid to live life and you certainly don’t want to teach your kiddos to live in fear either, so squash this one and get out there!
5. You’ll be a pariah for traveling with kids
Parents have this HUGE fear of judgement if their child cries during a flight. My first couple of trips with Maggie, I was convinced people would treat me like a leper. I even practiced my best Eff Off face in the mirror in case I needed to glower menacingly at a stranger. But you know what? Most people are surprisingly sympathetic and even understanding when they see you traveling with a small child. Other travelers play Peek-a-boo with her on almost every flight we go on! Even when she is less than cooperative, most folks are cordial or at least tolerant to our plight. If you’re traveling with a baby or child, do your best to keep them happy and quiet. Most people will appreciate your efforts even if you fail. Don’t give a second thought to the (blessedly) rare individuals who hate you for having the unmitigated gall (insert massive eyeroll) to bring a child aboard public transportation. They can put their headphones on and ignore you. And if not, you probably won’t ever have to see them again anyway.
Got more questions about traveling with kids? Maggie and I can probably answer them! Contact Me Here!