Do you travel with your kids? Chances are you do… some of us might go farther than others. Some of us might drive, while others fly – each and every family is different.
The last two years, we have driven up north from Arizona – that long, exhaustive road trip seemed daunting at first. But we were surprised at how well our kids did on the trip and now, we wouldn’t say no to another opportunity to drive.
Though I won’t ever forget that experience – many of our friends and family mentioned that instead of going up north, we should take them to Disney or somewhere child friendly. And although we know they would love Disney, being with and seeing the family was our goal.
Are we selfish for not taking them to Disney “more”? (We’ve only been once in the last 9 years)… or are we selfish for wanting to drive?
Recently, one of my husband’s coworkers mentioned to my husband that he was going to Cancun on vacation, and said to him “well, you won’t be doing that for 18 more years..” – (with a pat on the back and a sarcastic laugh)… implying (I would guess) that since we have kids we are restricted to the house. Definitely not the case :)
Does having kids make it impossible to travel? Absolutely not. But it does make it more challenging in some aspects. We still travel, but unlike our single days, we can’t just leave on a whim.
Here are some of the myths that surround traveling with kids ~
Traveling with Kids is too Hard
Although there is some truth to this, it’s not always the case.
As a parent, traveling with kids is different – those days of staying up late and going out to the club are long over .. you can’t stay out late and party with a baby. Likewise, trips to Havasupai Falls with kids (babies and toddlers) might not be a wise choice either.
Many of my husband’s coworkers have mentioned to him how unfortunate it must be that he can’t take a trip or a cruise (which usually comes up in conversation when they have booked one or submitting a leave form!)… and quite honestly we do still travel. It just requires that we plan ahead, slow down and do things a little different.
But it’s still possible. We just have to plan differently, that’s all.
Traveling with Kids is Extremely Expensive
Sure.. it can be. But you make sacrifices on some ends to get deals on the other. Right now with 5 kids, we wouldn’t even consider going on an all inclusive trip to Mexico like we did a few years ago for a wedding. When we consider going places with the kids, at this point it requires we drive. Likewise, Disney is out of the question for a few years until we can save up.
And while driving might require a little bit more effort on our part, we pack a cooler with lots of food, drinks including water, and prepare the kids by taking them to pick out DVD’s for the trip – it’s a small investment compared to the cost of air flights, and airport food.. renting a car and battling with 4 car seat and a double stroller. YIKES. The thought of flying with this many scares me… driving is just easy.
It honestly doesn’t cost too much extra to travel with kids – especially when they are small. In most cases, they can eat off your plate (or, eat minimally, or even breastfeed if you have a baby), they fly for free .. and most public transit is free or really very discounted at a young age. Not to mention they are easily entertained (at least mine are).
One of the most difficult expenses for us is hotel costs – since 7 can’t go in a single room, we make accommodations – by staying on a military installation that’s on our route, or going in family friendly hotels that can accommodate 7. Or, simply switching off drive time so we can skip a hotel and at the end destination, staying with family (who offers – we just never want to impose).
When they get a little older, you learn how to make accommodations to fit your budget (ie. driving instead of flying, hotels with continental breakfast, family friendly restaurants, etc.)
Babies are Bad to take on Airline Flights
We flew with the first 2 extensively when they were under the age of 2 – from Mexico to California, they always did great. Unfortunately that can be a difficult age, as the usually can’t sit still for long periods.
We brought plenty of snacks, downloaded their favorite shows on our phone and tablet and had plenty of busy activities that kept them engaged. Not to mention the more we flew, the more adjusted they were TO flying and they learned how to do it. In fact, in most trips .. they were better behaved than some of the adults on the plane.
It also helped that I nursed too… so I was always able to nurse them for comfort, too.
You are Restricted to Child-Themed Destinations
Usually when you mention you are going on a trip, people assume it might be Disney, or a Theme Park of some type. Perhaps you are going to to Great Wolf Lodge – in any case, nothing “adult” oriented.
And while you might just be going to any of those places, kids remember MANY places, even if they are not just “child” based activities. When we went to Mexico, we went scuba diving in the ocean – and we took our (then) 2 year old – she had so much fun and believe it or not, she still talks about it 7 years later.
Our kids have many memories of visiting a battery of places between Arizona and Minnesota from our drives up north. Likewise, they remember some of the most quirky road trips we have done too.. .. they just love seeing new places and things. And in most cases they seem to remember those quirky things better than they do the traditional places (like Disney!)
Wait until your Kids are Older
So that they can remember the experience…heard of that? If I had a quarter for every time I heard this I’d be a rich woman.
I’m not sure I fully agree with this – sure, at a young age of 2 or less, they likely won’t remember the experience. But they will remember some things. In most cases, we can’t even remember what we did last week or .. last year at this time.
But you’d be surprised with kids.
Our kids still talk about the time we all slept on bunks up in the cabins of Flagstaff. My 4 year old remembers stopping off the interstate from Kansas to Iowa where the gas stations and exits were in the middle of the freeway (not on the right or left) – and playing in the park they have there for families. I can barely remember that. But for him, it’s clear as day.
And my kids still remember spending 2 hours at the Bounce Land in Southeast Minnesota on a rainy Thursday afternoon. The place was empty, but they played for hours as we watched on.
Sometimes adults don’t give their children enough credit for the things they happen to remember :)
There is no question that our travels are influencing our children – even if it’s a simple road trip, or a week-long vacation. Traveling with them is one of the best experiences for them – they learn about places, people, cultures – even if it’s an overnight trip that’s not too far from home.
And right now, they’d rather go somewhere than buy things – and I’ll take that any day.
We’re grateful they all want to travel with us now – as when they get older and get to be in their teens, they might not be as excited to go somewhere.