Family Trek

Our Quest to Work Less, Live More and Travel the World with our Family.

Love the idea of travel but not sure about traveling with kids?  My wife and I have always loved to travel.  But when Monica was pregnant with our first baby our friends started telling us that our traveling days were behind us.  We were excited to begin the adventure of parenthood and there was certainly some nesting going on.  But were our traveling days really behind us?

Here are 5 Myths that keep people from Traveling with Kids.  We heard all of these and more.

  1. “Nap-time and bed-time makes traveling with kids really hard.  Kids need routine and traveling messes with their schedule.  And even if you are able to get them to sleep you are stuck in your hotel room. In REALITY, kids are just like adults.  They need sleep and will sleep eventually.  Both of our kids are very much routine sleepers despite the fact that we spend so much time traveling.  Occasionally we’ll skip a nap and let the kids crash when they are ready to when we’re at a place like Disneyland.  But more often than not we head back to the hotel for nap time or we plan to be on the road so they sleep while we are driving.  Both of our kids travel with their special blankets and our son Jackson now takes his own pillow with him when we travel.  As for being stuck in your hotel room… yes, at least one parent is “stuck” in the room with the kids.  Whenever possible, we book rooms with a balcony or patio we can sit out on while the kids are sleeping.  When that’s not possible, one of us will go out on their own.  It’s a great opportunity to scope out the best things to do when the kids wake up from nap time!  If older kids aren’t taking naps but younger ones need to booking a hotel with a pool or other fun things nearby can really help.  Then one parent stays in the room while the other is out with the non-napping kids.
  2. “Traveling with kids is really hard because you’re always eating at restaurants.  The kids don’t like the food, make a mess, the whole situation is chaotic, and it costs a fortune!” OK, in REALITY, much of that is true!  We work hard to find restaurants that kids will like but are also interesting enough for Mom and Dad.  The local pizzerias and burger joints are great.  My wife and I are both sort of foodies but when we have our kids with us we do have to be careful to pick places that everyone will like.  But it’s not true that you have to eat at restaurants all the time while traveling.  One of our favorite things to do is to find a market close to where we’re staying and pack picnics.  It’s a great feeling to be in a cool urban park nibbling on lunch while the kids run around.  It’s economical, the kids love it, and virtually stress free.
  3. “Once you have kids traveling becomes more difficult because while you want to go to museums and nice restaurants your kids just want to go the park–and you can do that at home.  Why travel just to go to a park and have your kids get on a swing when they would have been just as happy on a swing at the park down the street from your house?” In REALITY, my kids have helped me discover things about places we’ve visited that I would have never discovered without them.  Visiting San Francisco was a whole different experience with my kids than it was with my wife before we had kids.  And it was a TON OF FUN!  I’ll always love museums, chic bars, and good music.  And I get my share of those things as my wife and I split up time watching the kids during nap-time or after the kids are in bed at night.  While my kids are this age though, my main interest is in enjoying them and this season of my life.  They’ll grow up and those museums will still be there so I’m most interested in experiencing the world through their eyes.  And that can be something as simple as having Jackson pretend he’s a train as he walks round and round a fountain in Seattle.
  4. “Airplanes or long car rides with kids are a nightmare.” In REALITY, they’re not.  I’m not going to lie to you and tell you they’re fun either.  But planes and long car rides are both manageable.  On long car rides we like to leave SUPER early–like 4 AM–so our kids go back to sleep and we can cover some ground.  Whether it’s a car trip or a plane trip making sure you have snacks, drinks, old-favorite toys, and new-exciting toys can all help.  You have to keep changing things up.  Our kids don’t really watch TV at home so we’ve never felt bad about having a portable DVD player in the car.  And thank God for all those developers out there who’ve created lots of kid oriented iPhone apps.
  5. “Once your kids are in school it’s impossible to get away.  It can be hard enough to get time off work.  When you can it often doesn’t match up with their school schedule and I don’t want to take them out of school.” In REALITY, experience is the best educator and travel is a great way to expose your kids to all kinds of new experiences.  It starts when they’re really young: things as simple as having your kids push the buttons on the elevator provide teaching moments.  Children’s Museums are obviously great learning resources.  Pikes Place Market provided lots of learning lessons for our kids.  The Steam Profile at Lake Tahoe.  Science, history, physics, math.  It’s endless.

What keeps you from traveling with kids?  What myths have you heard?

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Clark Vandeventer On July - 1 - 2011

3 Responses so far.

  1. [...] family travelers.  I don’t buy into the myths that keep people from traveling with kids.  But we also know that a new baby means some nesting.  Our family may do less than others.  But [...]

  2. [...] 5 Myths that Keep People from Traveling with Kids [...]

  3. Nathan says:

    Loved this. We travel with our 10 year old Tristan (who’s been on the road full-time since he was 6, and going on road trips since he was born) and a 16 month old, Winter (with another, all boys, due in September).

    Nap times were never an issue with Tristan, he’s basically never napped. He’d pass out when he was tired, but that was a once a month occurrence. Winter is another story, he NEEDS a nap or he freaks. We basically planned our driving around his nap times and that worked out perfectly. Even if you live in a normal, fixed address house, you end up planning around nap times anyway so what’s the difference?

    When it comes to meals, Winter is a little disaster at any restaurant after about 1pm. He’s just too amped up to deal with sitting still. I used to think that parents with children who acted crazy at restaurants were doing something wrong, as Tristan has kind of been perfect at restaurants all of his life, but now I realize that kids are who they are and particularly at a young age it’s impossible to tell an upset child to stop screaming and act civilized. I think your point about choosing the right restaurant is key…don’t go to a fine dining experience with kids in the evening, that’s a recipe for disaster. Also, as we travel in a VW Bus, we have the means to make food on our own, around a fire or on a grill or on our own campstove. If we ate out for every meal I’d be much fatter than I already am!

    Both of our kids like museums…but who doesn’t like the park? That argument of “well you could just do that down the street” doesn’t add up for me. I think that type of statement can only come from someone who doesn’t appreciate the joy that comes from having a new location every day or week or month or so. Just like adults like to explore NEW museums, kids love new parks, too!

    I will concede that airplane rides are no fun with kids though, but then again, I don’t like them by myself either. The older a kid is, the easier it is to fly on planes with them. But most of our best adventures have come in the time spent skipping airplanes and driving or catching trains to wherever we were headed anyway.

    As for school, teaching your kids yourself is pretty much always going to be better than sending them to school. In fact, even if you don’t actively “homeschool” your kid while traveling, if you just let them experience all of this new stuff, guaranteed they’ll learn more that way than in any public school and even most private ones. Roadschooling is ensuring your children will have an appreciation for more than just what’s in your particular small town. They’ll be thinkers not learners, dreamers not followers. Even if you don’t travel, homeschooling your children is not to be considered “lesser” than traditional schooling. It’s vastly the opposite. I’m not ripping on teachers, they’re wonderful people, but anyone who is dedicated and loves their child can teach them more one on one (or one on two or three) than a teacher can when she’s responsible for 20, 30 students at a time.

    Anyway, I’m a long winded typer. Enjoy your days on the road!

    (OH, PS, I actually found your site while looking for info about living and working on the road, out of curiosity to what else was out there. Just finished up a massive article on how to do just that here: http://wandrlymagazine.com/how-to/make-a-living-on-the-road/)

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