Traveling with kids-Yay or Nay?

Old Aug 19th, 2006, 10:34 AM
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I think a lot depends on your personality and the way your family "works"...

I think of "vacations" as a time to gel (is that in Webster's yet?) with the family, slow things down, just enjoy experiencing new things with the least amount of conflict. I think you can do that in Europe...just takes a little more patience and planning on your part. If you're up to that task, then go for it!

We are taking our children 11, 8 & 7 to their first European trip (England only) in 4 weeks....it's taken loads of planning and organizing. We homeschool, and we've spent 4 years studying world history and each aspect of our studies ties in...when we study Chemistry, we start with the Alchemists and early forms through place and time, their reading selections match the time period we're studying..we study Latin through a Roman family living near Hadrian's wall in 200 AD...so taking them to London where they can see/hear/feel the sites they've learned about I hope will augment their love for learning. But, would I take them on vacation if I weren't homeschooling? I think I'd prefer to hit the beaches just 6 hours away and just hang out with nothing to do, it's much more relaxing! So off years we do that and every other we hope to plan a crazy world trip to push them into a whole new perspective of learning.

I would start introducing some great books to them now around the country you plan to travel to so they get that extra appreciation when they go. It's amazing to practice painting in the style of Seurat, Matisse, Van Gogh or others and then actually SEE their work up close and even greater to see the sites they painted that have remained the same! Very neat!

Tara
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Old Aug 19th, 2006, 10:41 AM
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"yes I do see travel as a luxury and I want our kids to understand that"

That's all the more reason to start when they are young.

Whatever you decide to do, enjoy your family.
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Old Aug 19th, 2006, 10:43 AM
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This is a big source of debate in our household. While we have taken our guys (3,2,2) to the Carribean several times and Mexico once as well as plane trips to Grandmas house and all of that, we haven't done a real trip with them. I don't count the beach vacations as "trips." We just got back from Iceland without them and there were so many things we did there that I thought the guys would love...whale watching, Geysir, icelandic ponies, etc...that I was really sad they weren't with us. My husband's point of view has always been that they won't remember it so why bother. Well, he is changing. Not only do the boys continue to talk about our trip to the Caymans that was back in February (they remember feeding the fish from the dock and throwing coral into the ocean and petting the stingrays and playing with their toy trucks in the sand) but he is starting to see that a lot of the value of taking them with us is not so much what THEY remember, but what WE remember about their experience.

Jeff Opdyke in his Love and Money column for last Sunday's Wall Street Journal wrote about his family's debate as to whether or not to take their 4 year old to Disney. The column really resonated with my husband. He even cut it out to make sure I read it. In the column, Opdyke makes the point (clearly more cogently than I had been trying over the last year or so to do) that while the kids might be too young to really remember much or get much out of such a trip, their parents are at the perfect age to get lifelong memories from watching their children experience something new and different and challenging.

So, I hope I didn't ramble too much. I guess what I am trying to say is that it isn't always about what the kids get but also what the parents get out of a trip that matters. That doesnt mean we are going to push our kids on flights longer than they can handle or too many time zones away. It just means that we aren't going to be too caught up in their age and memories and more vested in what memories we will make as a family.

Does that make sense?

Taitai
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Old Aug 19th, 2006, 10:44 AM
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I second the art books suggestion. I gave each of my 12 year old a couple of simple books about Picasso and then we went to the Picasso Museum in paris. (Not their first choice I admit!) We ended up having a ball as followed someone else's advice to look at the pictures and try to guess what the subject was before looking at the title. They really got into it.
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Old Aug 19th, 2006, 10:47 AM
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SeaUrchin-I didn't think you were being critical-and I was kidding when I told my son he would have to pay! LOL about kicking the back of the seat and sulking-I have one of those too!

Kwren-you are making me want to go NOW!! I love spending time with the kids one on one too-their personalities can come through withour fighting for attention with their siblings.

Thank you so much. I know travel has challenges in the best of circumstances. From what I have heard-keep your agenda and your mind open.

I must say, our trip to the Grand Canyon was so great because my expectations were so low. I knew we would be in the car a lot and was dreading that but they were just amazing and an absolute joy to be with.

seetheworld-you are so right-no time like the present...
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Old Aug 19th, 2006, 10:57 AM
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Yes do go NOW! and take an extra pacifier and box of Cheerios for the 1 year old!!!
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Old Aug 19th, 2006, 11:00 AM
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taitai-beautifully put.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old Aug 19th, 2006, 11:01 AM
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My family says "yay."
We took our children to England for the fist time when they were 6 and 7. They don't remember everything about the trip (although it is interesting what specific things they do remember!), but they do remember that they had a great time. To this day (they are 14 and 13 now), they love to travel and we love to travel with them. Here's my guilty confession -- sometimes I think I enjoy them more when we're all on a trip than when we're just in our normal routine at home.
For us, travel is a pretty high priority...we don't have a fancy house or fancy cars, but our kids have straddled the Prime Meridian, explored every inch of Hampton Court Palace, ridden a night train from London to Scotland, watched the final leg of a Tour de France, walked in the earliest known free-standing structure built by humans, and attended a Christmas Eve service in Westminster Abbey. I think travel is one of the best experiences we can give our children! (Although our sofa is looking pretty ratty these days, and might need to take priority over a trip in the very near future!)
Annette
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Old Aug 19th, 2006, 11:05 AM
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Yes, I'd go, but I'd definitely consider the merits of getting an apartment in an interesting city, and having a "slow" trip.

Travel is a luxury, but so are lots of things - TVs, indoor plumbing, restaurant food, electricity, etc. If they go to Europe as kids, they'll still have plenty of things to look forward to as adults.
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Old Aug 19th, 2006, 11:05 AM
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kwren-and a big bottle of benedryl...and vodka for mom...
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Old Aug 19th, 2006, 11:10 AM
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ahhhh yes, Italybound how could I forget those essential items! But you can't take that vodka on the plane these days...
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Old Aug 19th, 2006, 11:17 AM
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Taitai's reply to this was absolutely perfect I thought. My husband and I took our 3 and a half year old daughter and almost seven year old daughter to France, Germany, Switzerland, and Spain on an R&R trip out of Africa in the mid seventies. I don't think the girls remember too much about the trip but my husband and I certainly do....and the pictures of my two blonde cherubs standing before the Arc d'Triumph are priceless. I would say travel with your children as often as possible at any age.
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Old Aug 19th, 2006, 11:21 AM
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You'd better start packing Italybound...the yays have it!
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Old Aug 19th, 2006, 11:33 AM
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I could always attach the vodka intravenously and insist it was medically required...
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Old Aug 19th, 2006, 11:41 AM
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there you go!
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Old Aug 19th, 2006, 11:43 AM
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A very personal decision, of course. We have travelled extensively with our kids, now age 2 and 4. My DH has taken a group of college students to the UK for 3 summers, each time for a duration of 4 weeks or more, and leaving his kids behind was not an option so we all went. The first time my son was 1 year old and I was pregnant with my second. Now my 4 year old has been out of the country 3 times and travels better than some adults! We just got back last week and my big rave of the trip was enjoying my kids. They were so much fun and we had such a blast. Because they have been travelling since they were infants they did incredibly well whether we were on planes, trains, or buses. My 4 year old was entralled with all the castles and said on the plane (on the way home) that he wanted a suit of armour for Christmas!!! Priceless.

I really love seeing the world through the eyes of a child. At Windsor castle my 2 year old saw a portrait of a King on a horse and said, "Mommy, that man is wearing red for me!" (Red is his favorite color.)

I could go on and on....kids are so much fun. And IMO, you enjoy them in a different way when you are on vacation.
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Old Aug 19th, 2006, 11:57 AM
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We do enjoy the kids in a different way when we are on vacation.
Before number 3, we took the kids on a cruise. They were too young to stay in a room by themselves so my DH stayed with our son and I stayed with our daughter. It was one of the highlights of the trip for me-not the part about being away from DH-spending the time with my daughter one on one.

She still talks about the "girl time"!
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Old Aug 19th, 2006, 12:06 PM
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We first took our kids on a trip when they were 2 1/2 and 4 1/2. It was a trip to England to visit relatives and see where Daddy was born. We spent five days on a farm in the Lake District, a week in an apartment in Lancashire and two weeks in a B & B on Sussex Garden in London. We rode on buses, boats and trains. We skipped most of the museums but the castles were a big hit. Because they both still napped, we did too.

They remember much of the trip, over 30 years later, because the photo album sat on our coffee table for years and they looked at it almost daily.

In the '70's, the British that we came in contact with lived much more frugally than we did and our kids learned that a lot of 'stuff' wasn't necessary to live well.

Both kids travel even more as adults now than we could.
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Old Aug 19th, 2006, 03:54 PM
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I'm glad you're giving this question a lot of thought, because the answer can be different for each family.

We have 2 kids, now 11 and 7, and we've travelled extensively with them in the U.S. They are both good travellers (with one exception below), pretty dependable in terms of public meltdowns, adventurous eaters and new stuff generally. I'm a big history buff, so we tend to focus on that kind of activity. We took our then-10-year-old to London and France last year, for the first time. We left our youngest at home with the grandparents. She wasn't so interested in going, she's less interested in art/history and museums, and she hates to be in a plane or car for a long time (that's the exception). She doesn't kick up a fuss, it's just that she starts being bored, and saying so - you could have 8 million distractions for her. We deal with this with U.S. travels by keeping travel times short (3 1/2 hours or less), which has worked just fine.

For our son, we felt he was old enough to remember what he saw, and appreciate what he saw and learned. I would say that, post-trip, that's true. I'm not sure that he appreciates that he got to go on a special trip (that probably won't happen until he's older).

We planned the trip with both him and us in mind. For example, we visited the War Museum and the Cabinet War Rooms in London, which we wouldn't have otherwise, but all 3 of us enjoyed all of those a lot. Places like St. Paul's and Westminster Abbey were "must-sees" - he had no choice about visiting them, because of their importance in history, etc. In France, we visited the Loire Valley because we like it and because we wanted him to experience something other than the cities. He enjoyed the chateaux, as did we. And he liked Paris, which we love, but he still liked London more. It was a cities-focused trip because he likes cities a lot (and we do to, but we like to visit the countryside as well).

For the first trip, I wanted to visit places we'd already been, so it would be easier to plan. It probably was, because of that, but I don't feel like I need to do that with future trips with the kids.

Part of my son's appreciation and understanding of other cultures has developed since returning from our trip. He'll do something, or see something, and compare it to Paris, or London, or the people there. I like to see that introspection. Also, he did a great report for his class at school on his trip.

We started out the trip in London because we thought it would be less "foreign" for him, and because he's a huge anglophile (even bigger now that he's been). The difference between England and France, however, didn't bother him at all (not even the language thing), and now that we've done it, I know we could have gone anywhere and he would have been comfortable. Part of that, I think, is due to years of us telling our kids about our trips to Europe, and taking them to tons of ethnic (including French and Italian) restaurants, and generally exposing them to other cultures whenever possible. He wasn't homesick at all, and never (unlike my first trip abroad, to England when I was 14) missed American food. Also, part of it was due to the confidence a kid has that his parents are going to take care of everything.

Best part - those unexpected moments when your child shines with happiness or excitement. Like his first sight of the Eiffel Tower, at night, from a boat in the Seine. Some of those you can plan, some you can't (that one was planned).

Worst part - and it wasn't really "worst." Planning for 3 means one more opinion in decisions, though (in our house), with less weight than the two grownup opinions. And always being "on." Even though he could take care of himself pretty well, as a parent, you have to make sure they're always taken care of. I hadn't thought of that. I realized I need some time each year (even if just a weekend) away from my kids.

The result of our European trip with our son (fall of 2005) was that we did a big east-coast U.S. trip with both kids this Spring, are having a grownups-only trip to Italy this fall, and are starting to plan a springtime trip with son-only to southern France and Spain. We discussed bringing darling daughter with us, but she still isn't much interested in the overseas flight, loves the thought of grandparents to herself, and says she wants to go to Europe soon, but not next year. (She's our athlete - when we take her & son, we'll probably go hiking in Austria and Switzerland.)
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Old Aug 19th, 2006, 04:14 PM
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Thanks for the post. I know what you mean about always being "on". I tell my husband what is vacation to him with the kids is just taking my show on the road!
I too need that time away from the kids to miss and appreciate them!

I asked my son this afternoon where in Europe he would like to go. He said geez mom don't get so carried away-why don't we start at Yellowstone?!

Then he said the Swiss Alps...
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