Traveling with kids-Yay or Nay?

Aug 19th, 2006, 09:29 AM
  #1  
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Traveling with kids-Yay or Nay?

I have never considered taking the kids to Europe. TravelGirl's trip of a lifetime and NorCalif's trip report have caused me to reconsider! I'd love to hear fom any of you who have taken your kids with you.

Where did you go the first time you left the country with your kids?

How old were they?

What were the best and worst parts?

Do you think they appreciated it?

Our kids are 12, 10 and 1-I thought for a mid life crisis a baby was better than a porsche-I think we'll plan a family trip for 2008...
Italybound07 is offline  
Aug 19th, 2006, 09:44 AM
  #2  
P_M
 
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I don't have any children so I can't answer your question, but I have one for you. How interested in travel are your kids? When I was that age I already had a fascination with travel, unfortunately our family couldn't afford it. But if the chance had arisen, I would have jumped out of my skin with excitement. So how have your kids reacted to this idea?
P_M is offline  
Aug 19th, 2006, 09:51 AM
  #3  
 
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It seems like quite a few people on the board have had very rewarding experiences traveling with their kids. You know your own kids better than anyone else I would think, so you have to be the judge. I would say if they behave like the ones on "Super Nanny", at least before Jo gets to them...well, I'd have to say no. If they respect you and mind you most of the time and have that adventurous spirit, then I would certainly say by all means take them. And in fairness, I think that any young child can have an occasional "melt down", and if someone has basically good kids, it will pass in a short time and all will be well again. By 2008 your youngest should be out of diapers so that makes things easier and your other kids will be at an age where they can help you plan, get involved, remember the trip, help with the youngest, so all in all, I would think you'd have a wonderful time.
crefloors is online now  
Aug 19th, 2006, 09:52 AM
  #4  
rex
 
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It's a relevant question, at least for the 10 and 12, but I would base the answer on how family trips have gone, more than on what they say.

Our kids each went to France when they were 10 or 11; at the time I was virtually evangelical about what a good experience/opportunity I thought it was. Over time I have mellowed that opinion a bit.

We traveled as a family when they were 14, 15 and 17. I think your 2008 plan is good. If you wait until your baby is "old enough", then the other two are "penalized". I's day that if you have the means, then go ahead in 2008, and 2010, and whenever you can (can you forego that Porsche until 2026?)



Best wishes,

Rex
rex is offline  
Aug 19th, 2006, 10:04 AM
  #5  
 
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I'm sure you'll have a fantastic visit with you kids. They are at the ages where they can help to decide what to see and do. We brought our son with us from age 10 onwards.

In my opinion, a trip is the best midlife crisis treat.
francophile03 is offline  
Aug 19th, 2006, 10:10 AM
  #6  
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My oldest son is already wondering why we are going to Italy without him! He wants to go to Ireland and China-where he came up with those ideas...

The first time he brought it up I told him he could go to Europe when he was paying! But I do believe that shared experiences are one thing to keep a family close. What better than to be strangers in a strange land together?

My kids do have their "before Super Nanny" moments-and how horrified I would be if the cameras were rolling-but on the whole I 'd like to think they are good kids.

Our family vacations are great-the best one so far was to Sedona and the Grand Canyon in Jan. Everything was just perfect and seeing all that wide open space and the kids marvel at the Grand Canyon just warmed my heart.

Rex-that red, convertible, 911 Targa with the whale tail is fading fast-Surely one of the kids will see how unnecessary a college degree is! I'll even let them ride in my car...once!
Italybound07 is offline  
Aug 19th, 2006, 10:21 AM
  #7  
 
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Yay.

The first time we left the country with our two boys we traveled to England and Scotland.

Our sons were (almost) 3 and 6 years old.

The best part of our travel experience? Well, the entire trip as a family was the best part. We didn't have any expectations other than to explore and have a good time together. We kept in mind the interests of our boys at the time, such as castles and knights and armor. It was also a bonus that they were each others' best friend and could easily entertain themselves when it was time for mom and dad to take a break.

The worst part? Well, I would say seeing my 6 year old get airsick was the worst part, lol. But he was a trooper - he at least waited until we reached customs before puking, but that only speeded up our process. At the time, it was difficult to find a room that would accomodate a family of four in Scotland. But it can be done with a bit of research (and I know far more now than I did back in those pre-Fodors days).

Do I think they appreciated it? I know it made an impression upon them as they still talk about that trip. I know that I appreciated our trips and subsequent trips, which helped shape who they are as individuals. There comes a point in time, when you feel like you want to turn back the "travel clock" - at least that's how I feel now that my sons are 20 and 23.

I would advise you not to put it off much longer...you'll understand what I mean in just a few short years.

Go.

seetheworld is offline  
Aug 19th, 2006, 10:24 AM
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We took our 8 month old son to Lyon and Provence in May.

The best part was finding out that he was a very good traveler-no discomfort on the flights, happy with unfamiliar foods, slept in new surroundings, etc.

Needless to say, he didn't have any appreciation of the trip. My wife and I have been active travelers since we met, and hope our child(ren) comes to appreciate and share in our passion.
Josh is offline  
Aug 19th, 2006, 10:45 AM
  #9  
 
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Why have you never even considered taking your kids with you to Europe? Why would you tell your son he would have to wait until he pays for his own trip?

Maybe you are not that eager to take your kids.
SeaUrchin is offline  
Aug 19th, 2006, 10:55 AM
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When I was young we never traveled as a family. In fact, I don't remember a single whole family trip in my entire life unless you count Thanksgiving in Oklahoma as one. And I completely understand why. My parents are not travelers, and my brother and I could not even sit next to each other at the dinner table let alone on a plane or in a car until we were both in our 20s. If I have 2 kids that get along like my brother and I did, well, I foresee my days as a fodorite ending quite abruptly.

That said, I have traveled with my cousins and their kids and had a blast. The kids were all very interested in seeing things and though they are not the most adventurous kids in the world, they delighted in most of the trip. And my cousins are really wonderful at manipulating their moods, so the trip was smooth. I do think they appreciated it and they will continue to travel as the years go by, I am sure.

I have done duty as a travel nanny before and I really enjoy that. If you are planning a trip and think you need extra help, that could be a good option for you. I have also taken care of younger kids while the parents take the older ones somewhere for a long weekend. It seems that traveling as a family just depends on what you imagine and what you can afford.
laclaire is offline  
Aug 19th, 2006, 10:59 AM
  #11  
 
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I say, "Go for it!" But Agre with PM to include them in the planning. And about the meltdowns, I have seen many an adult go through meltdowns. Not pretty sights! And it takes a LOT longer for a so-called adult to get over it than a kid.

I am single, but I took two nephews to England when they were 10 and 12. This was their choice as they wanted to see castles, Stonehenge, and the Prime Meridian. I had beent to England several times at that point and was ecstatic about their choice. They spent a good deal of time researching on their own and with me.
We went with a rough itinerary with room for interesting detours.

I rented a car and the first day we went to a grocery store and stocked up on nonpersihable picnic makings (paper towels, paper cups, plastic knives, forks and spoons, peanut butter, jelly, juice boxes, fruit, bread) We often stopped and bought yoghurt or cheese and coldcuts, but the makings were there for a quick lunch if we got caught in the middle of anywhere and someone got hungry.

We stayed at B&Bs--sometimes a family room with double and one or two twins, sometimes two rooms. In B&Bs I never felt uncomfortable with them down the hall.

Whenever we came to our overnight stay (usually two or three nights), we would stop in the tourist office to check out what might not have been in guidebooks. We found a ghost house and several reenactments of medieval jousts and fairs that way. Several times I was complimented on how well behaved they were. Wish I could have taken credit, but it was my brother and sister-in-laws hard work that made it possible.

A few years later I took their younger brothers who were 14 and 10. their choice was Scotland. Same drill--they were involved in the planning, picnic stuff in the car, and B&Bs.

We still talk about it and laugh about our adventures. They are in their 20's now and two are married and are asking if I will take their kids on a trip. Will in a heartbeat if they get with it and reproduce before I am too old.

So take 'em and travel! Enjoy every minute. And as previous poster mentioned don't leave it too long.
teacher33 is offline  
Aug 19th, 2006, 11:05 AM
  #12  
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SeaUrchin-the reply to my son as to paying his own way was to snap him back to reality. He doesn't get to do everything his dad and I do. I don't want to raise any of the kids to take anything for granted-and a trip to Europe at the ripe old age of 12 is certainly a luxury. While we can afford it-we as in my husband and I-my son needs to realize what a trip like that means. The way he asked me about it had a certain entitlement mentality I am trying to squash like a bug!

I've never considered taking them because it does seem such a luxury. Europe in your teens and then what?

The travel reports I have read have REALLY changed my mind. What are we working so hard for if not to enjoy family life while all the kids are still in the house?

I absolutely loved your photo album-you have a photographers eye. I even loved the pics of the kitchen remodel!
Italybound07 is offline  
Aug 19th, 2006, 11:13 AM
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Have traveled to eruope with step daughters several times - but starting when they were 11 and 14 - and already quite sophisticated - so very different than traveling with little ones - or kids not used to big cities.

Key elements to success:

Realize up front that all 4 will not be joined at the hip - need to be able to break into sub-groups at times for various interests. (I did some extra shopping with girls while he looked at some old cannon. And in London and Paris the girls did some exploring on their own - daytime only - of things we didnt care about - could NOT get them out of covent Garden)

Kids must have their own room - or you will all kill each other. Esp not a possibility is sharing a bath with 2 eternally primping teen girls.

Get them involved in the planning - so they have some ideas of what they want to see/do - and even in destinations.

When they got a little older they got assignments (searching for hotel, comparing rental cars etc - although we made the final decisions).

So by the time they went with friends they were fully experienced travelers. (18-year old did her first trip with just a friend earlier this summer and loved it - had a great time and no major problems).
nytraveler is offline  
Aug 19th, 2006, 11:15 AM
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Do you consider all your trips a matter of luxury or just trips to Europe?

We never considered travel to Europe (or anywhere else, for that matter) as a sense of entitlement, but rather an opportunity for enlightenment.
seetheworld is offline  
Aug 19th, 2006, 11:19 AM
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Italybound07,
See http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34494897

and http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34608686

I will be taking taking two more in March'07.

Feel free to e-mail if you have questions.

Henry
Henry is offline  
Aug 19th, 2006, 11:20 AM
  #16  
 
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I'd go soon before your two older children grow up too much.

In a year or so the age gap will be such that the older ones won't want to fit in with the toddler, and they will want to do things that don't suit the toddler.

I had my 4 children within 4 years, and now they are all in their teens it has to be separate holidays for us because none of them want to go to, do, see, the same things. The fights and arguments are legendary!

Actually I am quite pleased now as it means more trips for me and I get to spend time with each child individualy which is very important as they get older.

I have had some lovely times with the children - when they were younger! - but the worst times are definitely the arguments when someone wants to see a sight and someone else doesn't and they aren't old enough to wait outside, and if you do leave them (as I did once at Mont St Michel because I had just had enough and at that moment didn't care) you see the sight but feel so bad and guilty you rush through it and then just have the sulky child at the end of it. Moody kids can really wreck a longed-for trip.

So go NOW while your older children are still young enough to enjoy being with you as a family and respect your decisions and choices without argument!
julia_t is offline  
Aug 19th, 2006, 11:21 AM
  #17  
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teacher33-what a great aunt you are. Your nephews are lucky to have you!
Italybound07 is offline  
Aug 19th, 2006, 11:31 AM
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Ha, don't mention my kitchen! It is still topsy turvey!

It is none of my business of course re you and your kids, and I see your point. At the time I wrote it I was thinking that if I had been told I had to pay my way on family excursions, say to Yosemite, I would have handed over my quarters and then kicked the back of the front seat the whole way, lol! Kids are great at passive/aggression! But life today is much more complicated and Europe was never even considered when I was young. I probably wouldn't have appreciated it until I was in my late teens anyway. I would have liked to have gone over to London to see the Beatles but would have been humiliated with "parents" tagging along and, alas, I didn't have my own money and means then either at that point.

I did take my son to Europe when he was a teen just for the fun of being with him and watching him enjoy Europe. We paid for the air, room and restaurants and he had to pay for whatever else he wanted. That worked out fine.

It is nice to have read the parent's reports and how they bonded as a family and learned to live closely together and respect each other as family. It is heartwarming, isn't it? I think the kids and the parents benefit.

OK, now I will butt out! It is certainly not my place to criticize other people, Heaven knows.
SeaUrchin is offline  
Aug 19th, 2006, 11:34 AM
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YAY!

I have 4 kids, currently ages 19, 17, 12 and 12 (not twins - they are 4 months apart) We have very often traveled with them both in and out of the USA. One of the first type trips we took with them was to a Club Med, complete with Baby and Kid Camps. When we needed a break, wanted a nice dinner a deux, or if there was a specific activity they wanted to do - off to camp one or more went. (I suppose the 11 month old didn't have as much of a choice as the others!) They were nearby when we wanted to do things as a family and the older ones knew that during the day they could have a choice as to whether or not to go to the clubs, or could sign themselves out to come find us at pre-arranged times if they so desired. This type of vacation gave them a good taste of traveling and introduced them to different travel conditions, and to varying climates and activities with the help of the camp directors. It was the perfect introduction for our family.

In 1996 we took our first European trip with the 3 oldest (we had not yeat adopted our daughter.) The 2 oldest ones had a good time, the youngest at age 2 spent quite a bit time crying as I recall. Fortunately for me, for just those 2 weeks, he decided he should be "Daddy's Boy" and preferred having my husband care for him, change the diapers, etc. While that was great for me, it put a damper on things for my husband. Once we got home, it was back to mom and now I tease him that the extra baby bottle I offered him as bribery really paid off for me! Anyway, that was defintely the worst part for my husband.

Two years later, I returned to France for a wedding with my then 8 year old son, who had really been bitten by the travel bug. I'll never forget the dinner when I asked my oldest if he would like to go with me (my husband couldn't leave work). He looked at me like I was crazy and said no. Meanwhile the second was jumping up and down screaming "take me, take me". I did take him and we had the absolute BEST time together. We are the perfect traveling companions - we both like the same things and both like to be on the go.

We've been to Europe a few more times with those 2 oldest boys always with good results. Here is the most important key: Always plan activities with them in mind. If you want to go to Europe just to visit art museums and churches and sit at cafes to people watch for hours at a time and frequent only gourmet restaurant at very high prices, go without them. (Of course kids differ, so just use this as an example - some might like to do these things, but hopefully you get my idea) If you are willing to intersperse kid friendly activities like going up a mountain, going to Disneyland Paris after 2 weeks of European sightseeing, going to McDonald's once (blah!) to give them a taste of home, skipping something you want to do when they are just too tired to go on, then in my view it is the most rewarding thing you can do, for both you and them. We have grown very close through our travels.

I have just returned from 3 weeks in Europe with my 2 12 years olds. My 17 year old, the one who accompanied me when he was 8, and my husband met us in Salzburg after a few days and returned home after 2 weeks. 17S had a blast, especially now that we have let him start to do some things alone and have given him some responsibility. (It was also useful so my husband and I could go out a couple of times alone ) 12S and 12D loved it too, especially when 17S took them out or played games with them. I planned the trip with the kids in mind, (thus the Disney Paris trip) and brought a couple favorite small games for down times. The other thing I did was to ask them to pick one thing each they would defintely want to do. 12S picked the ice caves up the Jungfraujoch and that was the reason we visited Switzerland. My 12D picked the Eiffel Tower. Bingo - that one was easy. We also asked for their second choices, and although those weren't promised upfront, we did manage to do those too. This gave them a sense of ownership in the vacation.

If you would like to see the type of itinerary I planned, you could read my trip report, still in progress (the one entitled Lauterbrunnen, Salzburg and Paris) - it worked out great and everyone was happy (except for 12S falling off a huge boulder in the Fontainebleau Forest and 17S losing his glasses out the car window - expect the unexpected and be prepared for excitement as well!) You will see I I plan a good mix of things to do and it works out quite well.

Do they appreciate it? Well, they are not adults so I don't expect constant oohs and ahhs or thanks on a daily basis, but then again they don't thank me on a daily basis for what we do for them at home either. Some things are taken for granted and I suppose if kids travel quite a bit from an early age it might be easier for them to take travel for granted too. However, that being said, they did thank me for the awesome trip on the way back to the airport. When I see their eyes light up when doing something new or tasting a chocolate crepe, or when they get excited when we talk about our next trip that's the appreciation I love.

Don't wait toooo long - 10 and 12 or the early teens are great ages for travel. Book your flights on planes which have individual TV's if possible. They'll be occupied the entire flight that way. Do whatever it takes to prepare everything you need to keep the youngest happy. Sorry this is so long, but you can see I love to travel with my kids! This will be a very rewarding trip for you and I hope you decide to go! Bon voyage!
kwren is offline  
Aug 19th, 2006, 11:34 AM
  #20  
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seetheworld-yes I do see travel as a luxury and I want our kids to understand that.

Henry-thanks for the links!
Italybound07 is offline  

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