Well, that depends on when you ask me, lol! But, for real, it can TOTALLY be worth it. I mean, there definitely are days where you couldn’t pay me actual money to take my kids out of the house but with a little knowledge and legwork I believe that traveling with your kiddos is totally worth it. Some of our best family experiences have been while traveling…….yes, both of our kids are under five. But hear me out, will ya?! Here are my top FIVE tips to help make your trip enjoyable for errrrybody in the family:
1. KNOW YOUR LIMITS
Nobody knows your kids better than you. So listen to your inner mama bear (and papa bear) when it comes to planning a trip. Does your kid get carsick? Then a 14 hour road trip might not be the best choice for you guys. Will your little one nap anywhere? Then go ahead and push the limits a bit! You do you. What is best for Jane Stiletto’s family might not work best for yours. If your family is constantly on the go at home, then a ‘go with the flow’, relaxed and flexible trip might be a great choice for you guys. If the thought of sitting still gives you and your kids hives, then consider an outdoor adventure. On the flip side, if you had a bad back I’d seriously reconsider a hiking trip if you have toddlers. Because you know you’ll be slinging those kiddos over your shoulder seven minutes in. Chiropractor anyone? Our kids NEED sleep so when we travel we get up and out early then keep bedtime pretty much the same as at home. It works for us and keeps everybody sane. I’m sure as they get older this will change. We go out to eat for lunch because that is when our little humans are on their A-game. Traveling with young children can be wonderful when you KNOW YOUR LIMITS and work within them.
2. DO YOUR RESEARCH
Just don’t overplan. We all know that the littlest members of our family are totally unpredictable. Having your trip planned down to the minute is basically a recipe for disappointment. Plan a few fun activities during your trip but leave plenty of space for downtime and flexibility.
But definitely do your research. Find out the best time of year to travel to the location you’re looking at. What will the weather be like? Are there certain things you need to be aware if you’re traveling there with children? What are some kid-friendly attractions? What is the best area/neighborhood to stay in?
For example, we’re booking a cruise for this fall and you betcha this mama did her research to find out which cruise line would be best for 2-5 year olds and even more specifically, which ships within the cruise line would be most kid-friendly. Where is the best place to book our cabin on the ship? Which itinerary offered the most kid-friendly excursions, etc. Know before you go so you can make an informed decision and not be caught off-guard when you show up in the wrong place at the wrong time with overtired, cranky children.
3. BRING ALL THE SNACKS
Small humans are the ‘hangriest’ humans on the planet. So pack your snacks accordingly. When you think you’ve packed enough snacks, throw in a few extra. You can thank me later. Hell hath no fury like a hungry toddler! Also, packing the right snacks is key. Messy snacks will just be annoying and create more laundry for when you get home. A bag full of sugary snacks is just not a good idea either. Toddlers are already like mini drunk college students. Let’s not add fuel to that fire. That said, I’m not above bribing my kids to get life accomplished. In our house, lollipops and Pez are the keys to a successful negotiation so I don’t leave home without them. I just save those bad boys until ABSOLUTELY necessary. You’ll be a hero if you stick with a variety of easily portable, healthy favorites (protein is your friend) and throw in a few treats to quiet the lambs. Some of my kids’ favorite travel snacks are popcorn, pretzels and hummus, chunks of melon, carrot sticks/cucumber slices, cheese sticks, cheerios and nuts (age-appropriate of course) with a few fun treats thrown into the mix. You. Can. Never. Have. Too. Many. Snacks.
4. THE RIGHT GEAR IS EVERYTHING
This doesn’t mean you need to bring the whole house. In fact, packing appropriately is super important, unless you and your spouse secretly dream of sherpa-ing a summit of Everest. Gear that does double-duty will be your best friend. I’ll share more specifics on this down the road but multi-tasking is life when it comes to travel. A few examples of great gear include: a roller cart for the carseat (this doubles as a stroller when you’re running from gate to gate), a solid diaper bag that can handle being your carry-on as well, and disposable placemats that stick on to contain messes and create a clean eating surface at a restaurant and you can toss in the trash when the meal is over.
5. BE PREPARED FOR ANYTHING
Go with the flow. Traveling is awesome but s*@$ happens and sometimes there is nothing you can do about it. If you lose your cool when things don’t go as planned, you can bet your a$$ you’ve just increased the chance of your kiddo having a meltdown of epic proportions. Flights get delayed, traffic happens, plans change. Flexibility is key. If you’re flying, pack a change of clothes for EVERYONE in your carryon and bring anything medically necessary or overall important onto the plane with you. When you’re driving be flexible about stopping for lunch and a stretch if you need to let traffic clear out. If your walking tour of downtown gets rained out, have a plan B in mind. Model flexibility for your kiddos. Tantrums will happen and sometimes kids get sick on vacation. Bring your arsenal and get comfortable with just being together. You can do this. Think like a Boy Scout and always be prepared.
Travel is a HUGE part of our lives and we want to pass our love of exploring the world onto our kids. So I’ll be chatting a whole bunch on here about traveling with (and without…whoop whoop!) your kiddos. My hope is that the travel piece of this blog can be a go-to guide for how to rock traveling with your kids and how to rock traveling without your kids (because, let’s face it even if you leave the littles at home, you’re still a parent). So look for answers to your specific travel with the fam questions in upcoming posts! Get out there and see this wonderful world with your people! I promise, you won’t regret it in the long run.