Traveling with kids, some bloggers display it as heaven on earth, some bloggers say it’s absolutely undoable to visit faraway destinations with kids. As with everything I guess the truth is somewhere in the middle. Yes, you can visit those exotic destinations and no, heaven on earth is not how I would describe travel with kids. Don’t get me wrong, we love love love traveling with our son, but it’s definitely not all glitters and glory. Some days I’d even go so far to say ‘no pain no gain’ is a lot better description! So what’s it really like to travel with an infant?
We want to inspire other parents to travel with their kids, not make them believe that family travel is easy peasy. Some days it is and some days it isn’t. Just like at home. Raising kids is a challenge, wherever you are. We don’t want to inspire you to travel and then have you find out that the reality is quite different. We’ve always been pretty upfront about what our travels are like. And really, there’s no reason not to. Travel with kids is fantastic, but it can be taxing.
Is it responsible to travel with such a young child?
This is a question all traveling parents have heard at least once… Of course, there are certain practical things to consider, insurance, health care, medical requirements. We made sure these were well taken care of before we left. And obviously there are some locations we wouldn’t choose to travel with an infant, like a water bungalow or a tree house in the jungle. Those can wait till he’s a bit older. We think the best thing you can give a young child is lots of love and attention. While traveling we were together 24/7. What more can a child wish for than to have his parents around all the time and to do fun things with them? There really are a lot of reasons you should travel with your kids. Our little world traveler is very flexible, not a fussy eater and quickly at ease in new environments. Of course we can’t be sure that this is due to our travels, but we’d like to think so.
The importance of routine while traveling with children
Since we were traveling long-term we specifically chose to follow our son’s routine as much as possible. We started our 10-month trip when he was 17 months old. At that point and during the whole trip he napped once a day after lunch for 2-3 hours. We made sure to be ‘home’ for his nap as much as possible. Occasionally he would sleep in the carrier or stroller, but we preferred for him to sleep in a bed (or his toddler travel bed) because he would sleep longer. The way we traveled, we definitely didn’t get see as much as if we’d go out sightseeing and exploring the whole day. Even though we never stayed anywhere for more than two weeks and often only for a few days, keeping to our son’s routine meant that the days were fairly predictable for him. Keeping to his routine ensured that our little world traveler was generally rested and happy, which in turn made sure we could relax too.
Traveling with an infant: a typical day
So, we woke up when our son woke us and got ready to start the day, usually around 8. Then we either went out for breakfast or fixed some breakfast in our hotel room or apartment. After that, around 9:30 we were ready to start exploring. Generally we chose one activity to do each day, which we did in the morning. Between 12:00 and 13:00 it was time for lunch and after that we returned ‘home’ so our son could sleep. This meant that one, but mostly both, of us would stay with him during his nap. The perfect time to write for our blog or do some work. After his nap it was snack time, followed by some discovering near our hotel or apartment, usually combined with finding a nice place for dinner. Dinner between 18:00 and 19:00 and then back ‘home’ and our son would be in bed by 20:00. We spend most of our evenings at home too, watching a movie, working or checking out new destinations…
Is traveling with kids worth it?
So, seeing as we (voluntarily) limited our sightseeing during our travels when our son was younger, do we still think it was worth it? Yes, absolutely! One thing our son taught us was to appreciate the little things and the cultural immersion. When you travel with kids, you slow down and see things from a child’s perspective. Even just going for a walk in a new environment, talking to locals or shopping in a supermarket in a different country helps you to really experience and appreciate your travel destination. A lot of things change when you travel with kids, it’s a whole new dimension of travel. We didn’t see as many of the large attractions as we would have when we traveled solo or as a couple, but we did get to truly experience what it’s like to live like locals. Other than that, the time we spent as a family was amazing and we’ve seen so much. Being together 24/7 can be taxing, but it was a fantastic gift for the both of us that we could spend so much quality time with our little boy. Other than that we simply love to travel ourselves. And kids are definitely more happy when their parents are happy.
Would we recommend traveling with an infant or toddler?
Oooh, that’s an easy one… YES! I don’t think there’s a ‘best age’ to travel with your kids. Each age offers its own challenges and rewards. We actually found it very easy to travel with an infant. Infants don’t need much. Eat, play, sleep and be close to their parents, that’s about it. We’ve seen and done so many wonderful things: celebrated our son’s 2nd birthday in North Sulawesi, did an awesome motorbike trip in Vietnam, saw wild elephants in Sri Lanka, spent New Year’s Eve in Bangkok went island hopping in The Philippines… we made so many memories! Now that he’s a bit older our little world traveler is really starting to discover his individuality and have an opinion. It’s amazing to watch, but can sometimes be a bit of a pain when traveling. Luckily we’ve never had to experience a tantrum in an airplane at 36.000 feet (yet).
If you’re waiting to travel till your kids are older, you’re really missing out. Missing out on traveling yourself and also missing out on some amazing travel experiences with your kids. The best advice anyone ever gave us about family travel was to ‘just go!’ Don’t overthink all the reasons why you shouldn’t or can’t. If it’s your dream, make it happen!