Opinions on travel with children . . .

Old May 22nd, 2006, 12:33 PM
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Opinions on travel with children . . .

DH and I are beginning to start thinking about when to have children and, while I'm aware this is a bit trivial in the grand scheme of things, I love to travel (obviously, I'm here) and am wondering what my "travel life" will be like with children. I very much hope to be able to share my passion for travel with my children (especially since my family didn't have the $$ to travel when I was young, but I always wanted to), but am curious what others think and what their experiences have been. Do you travel with your kids or leave them home? Do you travel to different places than you otherwise would have b/c you have kids? Do you enjoy traveling with your kids? Do your kids enjoy traveling with you? Etc., etc. Any thoughts are welcome
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 12:46 PM
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I have 3 children and we love to travel together. Our youngest went on her first trip at 10 weeks old. My kids, I think, are adventurous because of all they have seen and done. My hubby and I take a vacation alone and then several with the kids. If there is a spot we want to see that isn't kid-friendly, we go alone. But, generally we have found any place we've gone to be ok with the children. Our vacations are great memory makers for them. They are some of our best times together as a family. My oldest, 15, went to Hungary and London last summer on a missions trip without us. She also went to Cabo this Christmas w/ another family so she definitely has the travel but too!! There is more to take when traveling with young children, but it is worth it!! Enjoy your family-to-be!
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 12:50 PM
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We have 2 boys, 1 and 3, and they are already used to travelling - and the 3 year old really enjoys it! We've done one plane trip and many long road trips (a lot of hotels). I've heard from so many parents that if your kids just grow up travelling, they'll be travellers. Working so far! We're off to Europe with them in a little over a month!

Obviously, your travel style will change A LOT and while we do miss some things we used to do (lengthy dinners in an new, exotic place, etc.) trips with the kids are just so much fun. Until you have your own kids you don't realize how nice it is to just stroll around cities, parks, beaches while leisurely stopping at an outdoor cafe or for a picnic near a playground. It really has been great for us so far.

Hope this helps a little.

John

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Old May 22nd, 2006, 12:51 PM
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I have three kids and we always travel together. We've never been anywhere without them (except for when my twins were babies--- that's another story). I think it's best to travel with them after they are potty trained. Before then, it will require lots of inconvenient restroom stops and diaper changing and a huge diaper bag. After that (about age 3), traveling can teach your kids about their world much more than any text book. My kids have learned the capital of several states just from our road trips in the U.S.
Of course, you'll have to also accomodate the little people in your life... but they're a great excuse to act goofy as an adult
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 12:57 PM
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I've travelled before, with, and after kids, meaning they are grown up now and travel on their own.

With the birth of the first baby the travels were at first shorter and closer to home. I was happy to share with the children everything I knew: the name of the bird, how to pick mushrooms, what is so interesting about this museum or exhibit.

I traveled where I thought my kids would love to go, and later where they'd tell me they want to go.

Yes, the places were different, like a forest vs a shopping mall but I have absolutely no regret!

Of course I worry for them now when they are in Indonesia, or Belize, or any European country, but this is my "fault", they've gotten the travel gene from me!
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 12:58 PM
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Our son is a little over 2 and I thought my traveling days would be over, but our son has traveled over 50K miles in his short life. The other day I counted and he has been on 34 plane flights, cross country and international.

Traveling definitely changes. We don't linger for hours over a glass of wine or hit the great restaurants for a 4 hour meal. But we love traveling with our son and when we travel with him, that means we spend time together as a family. I think my husband and I thought that we would "drop him off" at the grandparents while we went on a trip, but now we just bring the grandparents with us to babysit and spend time with our son.

It also helps to have a very easy going child and a flexible idea of what you will accomplish on your trip. It does become a lot more work and especially a lot more stuff, but it is also really fun and you don't have to slow down too much if you don't want to.
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 01:42 PM
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The last trip we took without my daughter was to Maui when she was 15 months old. We spent a great deal of time talking about her and missing her. She is now 11 years old and has been on every trip with us (except weekend romantic getaways). She loves to travel and I feel that she has learned alot about the world by seeing it with her own eyes. When she was 3 years old we traveled to La Paz, Mexico. We will always remember watching her play on the beach with the local Spanish speaking kids, it didn't matter to her, they were just other kids to play with.

We are making our first trip to Europe this Summer and I think that it will be a great experience for all of us. So my advise: take the kids with you when you travel on vacation, but also take those little weekend getaway as a couple.
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 02:07 PM
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Our son always traveled with us from the time he was months old. He was a very good student and rarely absent, so on occassion, when an opportunity came to travel during the school year, we would take him out of school (of course, he made up the work). We also had him keep travel journals.

Of course, we did the Disney thing, and lots more. We lived in Scotland during his middle school years and his 6th grade class trip was to Holland. He traveled to Europe with his high school IB program.

In college, he found opportunities for travel and study abroad. He still loves to travel and has a great way with words to describe his trips. Right now, he keeps us entertained and awaiting the next installment of his "adventure" in the Hidu Kush. His perspective is fascinating and developed from his many travels and related experiences. It's making a difficult time somewhat better.

We are far from wealthy, but view travel as a major part of our ongoing education. There were times when our travel was mostly domestic. When we lived abroad - Japan, Scotland - our travels took us to various destinations close to home. We still have many places to visit, as does our son.

If you decide to have children, by all means travel with them. You may focus on different activities and places than you did pre-children, but it is a great opportunity to do things as a family. Travel also helps children to develop independence.

Sorry for the ramble, but I'm exhausted from spending my days herding cats as my students (ok, me too)await the last day of school on Thursday.
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 02:36 PM
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Wow, thanks so much for the great responses, you've made me feel so much better!! That you've had such great experiences traveling with your kids makes me think it is possible Great ideas too - the travel journal to involve the kids in their destination, mixing weekend romantic getaways with family trips. Also very cool that your kids have gone on to have fabulous travels of their own. Thanks again!
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 02:59 PM
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We have a daughter (age 2). Honestly, she's not that much fun to travel with. So we compromise.

The trips we take with her include lots of down time because she needs an afternoon nap every day, and she needs to be in bed by 8:30 every night (or else we have to live with the world's crankiest toddler). She is fun to travel with, but it's different. Camping trips are great: lots of dirt, rocks, and no schedule.

We also take trips on our own without her. We like to eat and drink and linger over our wine for hours. Sometimes it feels like we can go days without having a conversation at home; it's nice to catch back up on vacation.

Good luck. A lot depends on your child; ours does best with a consistent routine. And as she gets older, it's becoming easier (and more enjoyable) to travel with her.
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 03:33 PM
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My sons 8 and 10 have been to 25 states and 15 countries. They love to travel, and we love to travel with them.

I've noticed that my friends who think it's hard to travel with their kids seldom do so. Friends who think it's no big deal to travel with their kids seem to have few problems and travel a lot. I think your attitude will determine your "travel life". You can think it's going to be very difficult and then it probably will be. On the other hand, you can think that it's going to be different than your pre-kid travel, at least for a while, but you know you can do it. Flexibility is key.
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 03:53 PM
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I traveled a lot as a child but my first international trip was at age 12. I was old enough to really appreciate what I was seeing and had a long enough attention span for the museums. It seems that you need to really tailor your trip to be kid-friendly when you travel with kids under the age of 11 or 12... so your travels might be different with a young child, but I'm sure they would still be wonderful!
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 05:32 PM
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Can't be much help with little kids - since mine are step and we didn;t travel with them until they were 11 and 14. By then they were ready for real travel, love it and now travel with friends.

What we did find - esp with kids that age is to leave some time unscheduled for each day, to let them get really involved in the what to do part of the trip (and somewhat in the where to go). Also - you definitely need some time apart - so they always had their own room to give them - and us - some privacy. And we tried to find some things they could do on their own - and we would all meet later.

Great for increasing their skills/ confidence and letting us do some adult things that would bore them. It did however, cut down on the nightlife - we didn;t feel comfortable going out without them for more than one or two nights per trip. So we ended up doing mostly just dinners or more basic musical evenings - or even movies - since they weren't up for opera or serious concerts yet.

Obviously with littler kids there has to be a lot more compromise on your part - and supervision of them - as well as different destinations. Thank god I got them AFTER the Disney stage. (Their mother and her toyboy hubby got stuck with that - but didn;t seem to mind since they're easily amused.)
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 05:42 PM
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nytraveler

I'm a firm believer that it is important to let the kids have a say in the day's events - and in choosing activities for the trip. Actually, I believe that is a key for any travel companion!

I also think that naps should be required - both for the sanity of your family - but for your fellow travelers as well. Screaming, exhausted kids are miserable and make others around them miserable as well.

It doesn't take a lot of $$$ to travel. Even a camping trip to a location an hour up the road opens up a whole new world to kids.

Good luck to you and your DH.
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 06:23 PM
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Two words: Home Exchange

We have a 4 year old, a 2 year old, and a new baby on the way. We've exchanged a dozen times in the past, and this summer, we have 3 more to Berlin, Amsterdam, and Rome - and all will be with the new addition of a 6-week old newborn. We leisurely live like locals for 1 month in each location. Full accommodations. Family can spread out. Lots of bedrooms. Kitchen for meals at home. Washer/Dryer. From toys to books to high chairs - they're already there when you arrive. Oh, yeah, and it's FREE. We've never traveled more than when we started having children. It is an annual ritual for us now. But, if we had to stay in hotels, I wouldn't be as gung-ho. To us, home exchanging is the ONLY way to travel with kids.

You can see slideshows of our past exchanges. Can you tell we're having fun? Riding with both kids on a bike through downtown Amsterdam!? What a hoot!!

http://www.halfcode.com/photos

Cheers!
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 08:49 PM
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Reason #12 why I am childfree is so I can travel unencumbered. I think I'd rather get a root canal than drag *young* children around Europe. I don't think your concern is trivial at all.

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Old May 22nd, 2006, 09:14 PM
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First off, I am REALLY happy you started this thread because I see from the posts that there are a lot of people who have THREE children and still travel. I am unexpectedly pregnant with my third and have been wondering, "would a third put a cramp in our international traveling?"
But now to help you, I have a 9 year old and a 4 year old. We traveled before having kids and when we had our first, we took her on her first trip when she was 7 weeks old and she's been traveling ever since. We went on our first international trip when she was not quite 2 and she did wonderfully. We even lived in Europe for 5 months when she was 4 1/2.
We have taken only two trips without the kids; one to NYC and a long weekend in Cabo. I regret not taking them.
Yes, it's harder to travel with kids, but a little bit of creativity, flexibility and ingenuity makes everything ok. We are budget travelers, so we've dragged them on all kinds of public transport and stayed in modest accomodations. (In other words, we did not have everything all luxurious and easy).
We already have a trip back to France planned to visit friends and family next spring and our baby will be 8 months old if she is born near her due date. We have FF miles and have already earned two free trips to Europe, so this trip is a must, even though I'm nervous to take THREE. But nothing will stop me from traveling with my kids (except lack of funds )
Anyone who holds off from having kids because they want to continue to travel is missing out on having their cake and eating it too. Seeing your kids adapt and have fun WITH you is a wonderful blessing.
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Old May 22nd, 2006, 09:35 PM
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Travel with kids, like most things with kids, is wonderful in a way that is both fantastically new and yet, at the same time, brings back all of those childhood memories- my 7 and 10 year olds have been all over the US, including Hawaii, and we are returning to Europe again this year.
The best advice I received on traveling with very young kids is to bring something new that they've never seen before (a sticker book, a magazine, a little toy)for every hour of the flight- that guarantees you at least 15-20 minutes of fun that can turn a terrible, frustrated mood around instantly.
My wife has a business trip in Europe every summer, so our 1st trip to Europe had me bringing my then 5 and 7 year olds solo on an international flight and a train. I was pretty nervous, even with plenty of experience with two-on-two, but they were great- at that age, they can read, draw, keep themselves occupied and having fun for a little while to give you a break, and are just a joy to travel with. We had a terrific time over four weeks, in Switzerland, England, France, and Spain; yes, it's true, we only went out for a really nice dinner twice (once, when we stayed in France with friends and exchanged babysitting, once with the kids on their best behavior), and saw far more castles than museums- but spending all that time outdoors, meeting local families, seeing our kids playing with local kids and using that universal kid-playing language- it was all terrific. Go for it- you'll look back with fondness and wonder where the time went...
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 02:37 PM
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Thanks for the additional great replies. Luveurop, thanks for the reassurance that my concerns aren't trivial, but I don't feel that wanting to travel is a reason for me personally not to have kids . . . it's just more of a nagging concern . . . which is being somewhat alleviated by this board

Just out of curiousity, parisonmymind and toulousaine - how is it that you came to live abroad? I'm sure your kids had some very interesting experiences, esp. going to school abroad.
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Old May 23rd, 2006, 04:01 PM
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Granted, they are not my kids, but I have done travel nannying for a few families, in some cases being the 24 hour point person for the entire family, in other cases just taking the kids for a few hours each day so that the parents had time. Things move slower, but I actually got to do the things I wanted to do when it was just me and the kids (carrying them towards the end, and re-applying sunblock like a maniac) and when it was the whole family, I loved seeing them all interact. Then again, I loved those families.

I have a feeling my future kids will see a lot of the world with me. Whether they want to continue that or not without me is up to them, but I will hopefully give them the resources.
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