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Cynthia Aug 29th, 2000 11:56 AM

Does having kids mean the end of traveling? At least for a while?
Hello everyone. My husband and I don't have kids, and we thoroughly enjoy our "no strings attached" travel habits. However, as children are definitely in our future, I would love to hear about how you all have handled the transition to "family" travel. Do you still get away without the kids? Do you choose closer destinations? What's the best place you've visited with your kids? What about babies? Any and all experiences / advice would be appreciated!

Bob Brown Aug 29th, 2000 12:03 PM

I found it very difficult to travel with children under the age of 5. Babies in particular require so much attention and equipment that a pleasure trip with a baby is virtually an oxymoron. <BR>The child does not understand and is not where he or she can do the normal activities. <BR>We had to travel on an obligation basis a couple of times and that experience indicated that we would be best advised to forego anything except a trip where we could go to one place and stay there for a few days. <BR> <BR>However, when our son was 6, we headed west and he still remembers it. He even shows off the pictures of himself standing on the Grinnell Glacier, before it melted to its present low level. <BR>It can be done, but pick your spots.

Paulo Aug 29th, 2000 12:28 PM

My personal experience is limited. We travelled with our daughters till they were 3/5 year sold to places where we would stay for up to a week, as Bob mentions above. We then moved for a year to the US (Dayton, OH area) also making long weekend trips to single destinations. When they were 4/6 years old we made our 1st multiple destination trip over 3 weeks. It worked very well but we had a base and my mother was there eventually, so we could "dump" them as needed :-). <BR> <BR>A couple of very close friends of ours had their son last February. She had to undergo extensive treatment to have her child which was born premature and had to stay at the hospital for 3 weeks and she can't get pregnat anymore. They love to travel ... and they started "training" for their real first time out ever since the baby left the hospital. Every two weeks or so they drive to São Paulo in the early morning and back late at night (200km total) to go shopping. A couple of months ago they spent a week in a beach resort in Northeast Brazil (a relatively long flight). Having experienced a lot since the very beginning, they feel very confident in doing their first trip abroad. In a couple of weeks they're going to spend 3+ weeks in Spain (6 days in Madrid, then a 18-day car rental). Will it work? I'm sure it will. Of course, they'll have to adjust specially regarding hours, but they exactly know what they're up to. Ask again is 1 1/2 month's time and I'll be glad to report back how the whole experience went. But the main message is: as one should carefully prepare one's trip, if a baby is involved the preparation should also involve getting experience with the baby outside home. <BR> <BR>Paulo <BR>

Cindy Aug 29th, 2000 12:38 PM

Cynthia, the fact that you have the good judgment to even ask the question makes you well ahead of the game. Personally, I started off thinking kids could go anywhere if the parents trained them thoroughly. Ha! <BR> <BR>Anyway, we have three youngish kids (9, 6 and 3). We have decided that complex and exotic vacations will have to wait. My husband and I traveled plenty before the kids, so we don't feel too deprived -- yet. Frankly, when you balance the cost, stress and headache of major travel against the benefit for the family members, the calculation still does not favor big trips. We learned (the hard way) that the best vacations are ones the kids enjoy, because if they are not happy, no one is happy. So we get away alone now and then, and we look for simple but nice vacations. <BR> <BR>When you think about it, delaying major travel isn't that big of a deal. Having kids costs you money, time, sleep, career progress, and your figure, and those are the costs if you are lucky. Missing a few trips kind of pales in comparison, don't you think? <BR> <BR>Kids are great. Good luck!

kk Aug 29th, 2000 12:45 PM

As ever, Paulo, you are right on the money! <BR> <BR>If you want your children when they are grown to enjoy travel, take them along whenever you can on trips. Not necessarily to Europe, just on trips somewhere. A trip across the continent to grandma's house counts, esp. if you do it once a year and if you make it into an adventure. <BR> <BR>I was struck when reading several recent threads on how we all learned to travel, how many of us got the travel bug as children when we traveled with our folks.

Jeff Aug 29th, 2000 12:52 PM

Cynthia: Try to search on this board for "kids" or "children" or "baby". I've posted some of my thoughts several times. We traveled to BE and the Netherlands this year w/ a 6 month old and I provided some info about that experience elsewhere. Beware, though, there is a large anti-child-traveler contingent on this board. Some of the anti-child contingent raise good points, but others seem to think that one must be 55 or older to go to europe. Good luck and enjoy.

Mom Aug 29th, 2000 01:14 PM

The answer is you won't know until you have kids. Some kids are easy, adapt to change, sleep well, eat anything, are curious, etc. Then there are kids who require structure, constant attention, rarely sleep, are cranky often, get sick a lot, etc. Some parents are easy-going & can cope with constant stress others full apart over small things. It also depends on your budget & flexibility. For ex, if you want to go to Paris, stay in a small charming room, spend hrs in the Louvre & dine fashionably late at a <BR>4 star Michelin, forget it. Do you want to rent an apt. for more money, skip the louvre, spend more time in the Tuilleries & Luxembourg gardens, then go for it. You can certainly enjoy beach type resorts, zoos, etc. Kids -- some kids -- add another totalling charming <BR>perspective to exploration. <BR>Good luck.

Liz Aug 29th, 2000 01:15 PM

Cynthia, <BR>Kids are great to travel with as long as everyone gets something of interest to do everyday. For instance, we took our 9 & 10 years old girls to Italy last summer and everyday we would visit galleries etc. and the afternoon they would get to pick the agenda, which usually involved gelato galore and then back to the castello for swimming. Up until they were 4 we generally did the Club Med vacation where everybody gets time to themselves and has fun. They have great childcare there and my girls used to beg to go to mini club in the mornings to learn trapeze etc. Generally speaking the more you travel with your kids the better at it they will become and they will learn more than sitting in any classroom! So have some kids and start to travel and suffer with the rest of us! Just kidding!

the turnip Aug 29th, 2000 05:14 PM

We enlisted the help of GRANDMA! Two weeks in Europe for us, one week for each Grandma with the kids. It's worked so far. Just plan on bringing back nice gifts...

kiki Aug 30th, 2000 12:32 AM

our children are 8 and 6, and we changed our travelling habits. when they were babies, we either did home exchanges or rented a house (big enough) for a holiday, but we kept crossing the ocean. now that they are older, we make sure to include something for them as well in our holidays... so everyone remains happy ! <BR>we take them to museums, but also on a biking day...

Myriam Aug 30th, 2000 12:43 AM

We have taken our son since he was 8 months old, however never on "far away" destinations. So the max. we did was 4 hrs flight or travelling by car and taking much more breaks than we used to. <BR> <BR>For both my husband and myself it was also essential to have at least one vacation per year for the two of us which we take during winter time and which usually goes rather far away. Our son then stays with his grandparents and all parties are happy with this solution. <BR>

francesca Aug 30th, 2000 01:23 AM

Your question is timely for me as we are about to have our second child and I am panicking about this very question. <BR> <BR>We live in France and have traveled several times with our baby, though not far: to the UK twice and to the south of France. We did take one flight to the US, which went ok. A few tips: <BR> <BR>-Keep actual travel time short and take a break every two hours or so. <BR>-In Europe, trains are better than planes. You can walk around more. <BR>-Try to stay in one place/time zone to minimize sleep disruptions. <BR>-We found that the occasional missed nap or late meal was not a major problem and that our child's excitement of being in a new place was often a positive distraction. <BR>-Pick B&Bs over hotels, especially the ones that will serve family-style meals. Skipping restaurants at night and eating in someone's kitchen makes meals with a baby easier (ie. "tables d'hotes" in France) <BR>-Favor "scenery and relaxation" trips (ie. Club Med, renting a house in the country) over visiting cities (w/museums, churches, etc)or long roap trips until the child is older and more independant. We just have decided that certain types of trips will have to wait, or be done on our own. <BR>-be considerate of other people and make sure your kid isn't an annoyance. If the child starts acting up, try to distract her or move to another room. <BR> <BR>So far, our experiences have been pretty good, even when our toddler came down with chicken pox in rural Wales. <BR> <BR>If you can line up a babysitter or grandparents for a long weekend so you and your husband can get away, do so. You need it more than ever after you have kids. <BR> <BR>My biggest fear now is that my in-laws, who've been so helpful so far with our daughter, won't be able to cope with two children. We'll see... <BR> <BR>It's not so bad. Best of luck to you! <BR>

Rex Aug 30th, 2000 05:01 AM

Having three kids under age 4 (uhoh, Jack is four today), taking in a week on the Carolina Riviera is trouble enough. I'd keep my vacations simple until your kids get a little older. I don't think kids get much out of culture tourism anyway, at least until they become more culturally aware themselves. At thirteen, I toured Spain with my Spanish class. It was fun but I didn't learn much. I was still a cultural dolt. If you have a very loving mother or mother-in-law whom you can trust, you might want to drop the kids on them for a week and tour a particular European country. My mother-in-law would have been ideal but she died before we ever tried having her take them. My mother would get too rattled handling even one kid for a week until they became more disciplined.

Lily Aug 30th, 2000 06:13 AM

Hi Cynthia, <BR> <BR>We have only one child (now 15) and she goes everywhere with us! The best trip memory I have of her is when my father (mother is deceased) and I took her to Zimbabwe for 2 weeks! She was 7 years old and as he had business there, we spent alot of time just the 2 of us. The thing she remembers most is that our hotel attendant brought us "African Tea" and cookies at 7 am every day. <BR>What I remember most is she and I sharing a meal of squash, corn meal and tomato in the bush with some new friends. <BR> <BR>Honestly travel with children is what YOU make it. Your children will of course adapt to your tastes. My daughter has been all over the world with us, and although I agree with Bob that she does not always "see" the same things as we do, I know that she has been enriched by the experiences. In fact just last year one of her teachers told me that she is impressed with my daughter's ability to understand cultural situations at such a young age! She went on to tell me that my daughter (only a B+ student) has an extrodinary amount of wisdom! Imagine my pride, of course I credit it to her life experiences - mainly travel. <BR> <BR>P.S. My husband and I do manage to take some overnight trips once in awhile too - this is a must for any marriage!

TJ Aug 30th, 2000 06:28 AM

When my daughter was 2 and my wife was 5 months pregnant with our second, I took a job assignment in Paris. We have lived here for the past 18 months. It has been incredibly challenging and incredibly rewarding. Had we been "sans enfants," we could have spent weekends in the great cities of Europe. Instead, we have chosen trips that have been more child-friendly: beach resorts in Normandy and Brittany, Loire Valley B&Bs, overnight trips to Bruges, even weekend stays at Disneyland Paris. These are not necessarily better or worse than the travel options we could have had as a childless couple, just different. I figure that we can do the "great cities" tours after our children have grown. In the meantime, the memories of these shared experiences will last -- at least for my wife and I -- forever.

ilisa Aug 30th, 2000 06:30 AM

A lot of people will tell you that there is no point in travelling with young children because there is no way they are learning or retaining anything, nor will they appreciate the culture of their surroundings. However, what they seldom remember is that a child is always learning. So while a child will not gain an education in art history at the age of 3, the seeds have been planted. Lily, has given perhaps the best advice in saying that travel with kids is what you make of it.

Marla Aug 30th, 2000 06:52 AM

We have 2 year old and 5 year old boys and have managed two trips to Europe in the last 3 years. We've discovered many things ---- 1) Split the boys up, each Grandma gets one for the week. 2)No long 2-3 week stays, Grandma can only handle it for a week! 3) Agree with previous poster, treat Grandparents to nice evening on the town, great gift, etc. <BR> <BR>The best vacation for our family is a trip to the beach. We rent a nice condo on the beach, hit the beach for a couple of hours in the morning, break for lunch and naps, then head back out to the beach before sundown. This sufficiently wears out the boys and they sleep wonderfully, gives mom and dad some peace and quiet, and gives the boys something they can remember and look forward to each year. One suggestion, rent a condo with an indoor pool for those days when the weather isn't cooperating!

3 hankies Aug 30th, 2000 07:27 AM

Travel while you are a family with young kids is a completely different thing than travel as a young couple. If there's even a trace of worry that you are somehow going to have to "settle for less" in what you do, remember two things: First, childhood is much briefer than you remember from your own. The five years between 2 and 7 are much longer to them than it will be to you, who may be 32 and 5 years from now will still only be 37. The period of time you'll have to tailor your trips according to what works for a child is not that long, and (godwilling) you'll have plenty of time to get back to the two-some travel after they begin to disown you, sometime around 16. Second, the kind of travel you do with them will probably have to be different, but it's not "lesser" travel. For us, the few trips we took with our now-grown son are the most memorable for us, those years with him under our roof were the busiest but sweetest for us, and now each trip is a little "less" than it would be if we could have him traveling with us. <BR> <BR>It's natural to worry a bit about how much children will change your life, including travel. You can't imagine how much they will change. From this end of things, it was more than worth it for us, can't imagine life without our son. But anyone planning to decide on whether to have kids or not depending on how it affects travel probably should stay "childfree" as the phrase goes. That doesn't sound like you, Cynthia, I know. And I wish you luck and fun, and when you're wrestling with diaper bags and strollers and imagining yourselves footloose on the Riviera, don't forget what I'm trying to tell you about how you'll see life after the children are gone. <BR> <BR>

Marsha Aug 30th, 2000 07:54 AM

I agree with the comments in the posts above. In addition, all kids are different. Our daughter, at 3, spent 5 months on the road with us and we did fine, as long as we took frequent breaks and visited a park once a day. At 8, she went to Paris with me and was a great traveler. At 3, our son is not a good traveler. But soon, it will be time to teach him to travel. We are practical and do not expect to dine in fine restaurants and spend hours in museums. But you can visit outdoor historical sites, children's museums, national parks and other "kid-friendly" places.

Art Aug 30th, 2000 08:16 AM

Hi Cynthia, We took our son on his first camping trip(rented motorhome) when he was 9 months to see how we made out. While he was growing up we traveled in the US, Canada and Mexico. There is so much to see here. We took two driving trips arount the country one when he was 6 and the other when he was 9. We usually took our trips the beginning of September when school started. He always learned so much that we had no problem with his teachers. On the driving trips we would stop more frequently for rest stops and made sure that we visited places that he was interested in. On most of the trips we would set up a home base for at least a week ie on a trip to DC area, we stayed in a B&B for a week and rented a motorhome for a week. He became a very good traveler and always enjoyed the trips. On the trip when he was 6, we were driving south from northern Maine and my wife noticed on the map that there was a fork in the road. As we passed it, out son was looking out the back window of the van and mentioned that he didn't see a fork. We later stopped at Sturbridge village in Mass (a early 1800's village) and I was able to show him a 2 pronged hay fork which was were the term came from. Long winded I know but the point is get them traveling early but in general no long flights as that is hard on everyone, include areas of interest for them and mostly work out of a base camp. <BR>Good travels. <BR>

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