Traveling with kids-Yay or Nay?

Old Aug 19th, 2006, 04:37 PM
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My kids (now 17 and 14) are different people than they would have been if we hadn't traveled with them. Our Europe trips shaped their view of the world and how they wanted to relate to it. They deeply appreciate it and so do we. DO IT!
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Old Aug 19th, 2006, 05:02 PM
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I could not have imagined going to Europe without our kids and always thought it odd that so many people did. Our kids have always been great travelers. We took them to Europe for the first time when they were 7 and 10. They loved museums and we had to do a little editing on the trip because my 7 year old really wanted to go to Giverny to see Monet's Garden. They did not like Disneyland Paris at all. Depends on the kid.

When I decided to take them on a cruise a couple of years ago there were some on a cruise travel board who maintained that people only selfishly took cruises for themselves and not for kids. Try telling my kids that. They fell in love with cruising.



My brother would love to take his kids to England where we grew up. They are not interested, he cannot get them out of the Carribean. My kids want to get to other continents. You have to be able to determine where your kids fit.
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Old Aug 19th, 2006, 05:25 PM
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When the kids were tiny, we took very modest trips - a condo in Galveston, up to grandma and grandpa's lake house, etc. When the oldest got to elementary school age, we started with San Diego, then did Williamsburg, Chicago, Seattle/BC.

When they were 13, 11 and 8, we took them to Paris (I keep thinking it was longer ago, but they correct me.) We rented a flat and we had a nice time. The long plane trips were the biggest pain - on the way over, not 10 minutes passed without a kid tapping on my shoulder, asking when we'd be there.

Two years later, the plane trips were like night and day. On the way home, my daughters (now 13 and 10) were on one side of the plane and we were in the middle; THEY DIDN'T NEED ME AT ALL! They kept so occupied (BA's many movies on indiviudal screens helped a lot), they were totally self sufficient.

My oldest was 15 for the trip to Italy - he was totally engaged -interested in EVERYTHING. The younger two would get a bit bored at the many churches, but they behaved well.

You might want to get a quick trip in while the oldest one is still in diapers. I think that the worst age to travel with a child would be at the early potty training stage where, when they need a rest room, they need it NOW. Of course, some cities have more public toilets than others!
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Old Aug 19th, 2006, 07:34 PM
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We just returned from our first european trip (Paris) with our children ages 5 and 11 and had a fabulous time. We travel extensively as a family, taking 4 major vacations a year. We have never regretted taking the kids. You can visit the same city without kids another time and have a totally different experience. The world through a child's eyes can be be a wonderful experience indeed.
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Old Aug 20th, 2006, 05:27 AM
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We just took our 1 and 3 year old to The Netherlands/Belgium/and France for 2 weeks. You just have to know your kids. The way they are when you're out for the day or in a restaurant at home is the way they'll behave on vacation. The plane ride is the only difference.

My one recommendation is renting an apartment as opposed to a hotel - huge convenience and the kids feel more "at home".

Remember, if your kids grow up always "knowing" travel, it will just become a part of their life.

Here's a link to my trip report if you want day to day accounts of the trip with our kids:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...p;tid=34836796
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Old Aug 20th, 2006, 05:56 AM
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One of the best things about traveling with my kids is how they see details I would miss, and how that adds to the experience. Here we were at Notre Dame with me admiring the carvings around the doors when my 12S says, look Mommy, that man is holding a pigeon. I searched and saw a pigeon had landed on the raised hand of the huge statue of Jesus over the middle door! (It was obviously not the first pigeon to have done that, if you know what I mean)
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Old Aug 20th, 2006, 06:09 AM
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The first time I visited the Gregorian Egyptian Rooms at the Vatican Museums there was a young couple there with a baby. The baby screamed and cried the whole time and the Mom & Dad looked mortified beyond belief. The odd thing about it though was the fact that they would not leave. They divided their time between looking around the museum room and trying to pacify the baby. I can assure you nobody around them had an enjoyable, relaxing experience, including themselves.

So, common sense is not a common as one might think.

Taking a baby/toddler to a Gregorian Egyptian Museum when they are most alert is a very idiotic thing to do. Then again, I am sure they must have known that, right?

My Mom & Dad rule was: we will take you overseas when you can read and write about it.
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Old Aug 20th, 2006, 06:25 AM
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We recently visited Italy with our grown children and four grandchildren ages, 5, 8, 10, 12 (going on 20).

They were perfect. I know, that's a small sentence, but a big statement. The adults in our family talk to the children A LOT. They are never ignored, nor are their opinions or questions dismissed lightly.

These grandchildren of ours have completely melded into the family unit and each child is treated equally.

My husband and I, as grandparents, never, ever entertained the thought of not including our grandchildren on the trip even though they would not reap the obvious benefits their parents would. My adult children would not have enjoyed themselves if they made the trip without their children.

We are helping to shape their minds with travel and positive input, which hopefully will result in enriching their lives.

Go with your children, if you can afford it.
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Old Aug 20th, 2006, 06:31 AM
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Viajero's post illustrates how you must know your kids and what they can handle. My three year old loves art museums and knows how to behave in one. You can't make a blanket statement and apply it as a rule to all children. If I took the advice of Viajero's parents, my son might not be enjoying children's art books right now.

Always keep this in mind - just because children may not
remember an experience when they get older, they still learn and benefit from having had the experience.
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Old Aug 20th, 2006, 07:07 AM
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john127-thanks for the link-I can't wait to read your report. I started it and I agree that the plane ride is what I am most fearful about. The older 2 I can put into a DVD induced coma-the youngest is a one man wrecking crew!! Maybe by 2008...

I love all the posts-thank you! I think the "yays" are in the definite majority.

i am kane-what a great trip to take with your family-I'm sure the grandkids will remember it for a long time.

viajero2-that couple was just rude but, they probably realized-you'd hope-that they had made a bad decision and were going to take it to the bitter end!
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Old Aug 20th, 2006, 07:57 AM
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I'd say Yay!

Yes, take your children with you, as long as they behave when they are in a museum, palace or wherever common sense requires it.

When I visited Herrenchiemsee Palace this summer, and even though they encourage children to visit, in our tour group one of them was a toddler crawling freely behind the rope near the exhibits, and other two kids kept crying in their prams.

Not pleasant at all for the others, or at least for me. Not that I don't like kids or their crying, but... not there.

As for a 10 or 12 year old kid, this should be a very good experience.

Take them!
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Old Aug 20th, 2006, 02:53 PM
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Thanks for all the posts-I'd love to hear more...
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Old Aug 21st, 2006, 05:37 AM
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I just re-read my post - I obviously meant while the YOUNGEST is still in diapers.
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Old Aug 21st, 2006, 06:11 AM
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I'm somewhat biased in this regard.

As a single mother, I refuse to let the fact that I don't have an 'other half' hold me back from my love to travel. I have three children that range from 9 to sixteen months, and they've all had passports since they were babies. We're going back to Australia to spend three weeks with my family in November, which will be our second international trip of the year, as I took my son to Ireland in February.

Yes, your dream vacation may not be as involved or detailed as it would be if you were travelling with your SO.

Yes, kids act up and grumble, but honestly, I've seen a lot of adults behave more inappropriately while travelling than children!

Yes, it's hard to plan with children of such varying ages.

However, the benefits of a child being able to have that exposure to other countries, and those wonderful memories, will be things they will cherish for a lifetime. My daughters love Italian food, and I'm seriously considering us learning Italian, cooking Italian meals, and studying art for a year before heading over to Italy for a slow-trav type vacation. At that point, the things they've read or learned about become more real, and they gain so much more insight about arts and culture than what is taught in any classroom.

Go for it! Get your kids involved and have them help plan the trip too.

Warmly,
Liz
ozmum.com
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Old Aug 21st, 2006, 11:15 AM
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I'd also vote Yea...
I took my daughter (and 4 other girls) when they were 13 & 14.. We went to London first. They all did wonderfully. And the next year one of the 14 yo's told me she was in freshman english and half the class didn't even know who Shakespere even was... and she said "and here, I've been to his birthplace and the Globe Theater". I think Carmen said it best when she said "her child(ren) wouldn't be the people they are today if she wouldn't have traveled with them" Or something like that.. that's exactly how I feel about my daughter. Listening to her talk to people now (she's 18 and we'll be taking her 3rd trip next summer... I think she's been to 9 different countries) she's so together and confident. And she remembers everything about every trip. Much more than I do. So if you can take them, do... at least the two older ones. I would never travel with a baby but that's me. I don't take a kid to Disneyland until they are about 10, so they can "get it".
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Old Aug 21st, 2006, 11:39 AM
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We took our sons to Europe for the first time two years ago when they were 6 and 8. We went to the Alps for several weeks- Germany, France, Liechtenstein, Austria and Switzerland. This summer, we went to Norway, Denmark and Sweden.

Our kids love Europe, and would rather go there than Disneyworld or most anywhere else.

At 8 and 10, they have been to 25 states and 15 countries. Our plan for the next 8 years (before oldest goes to college) is to take them to every continent (except Antartica, and who knows, maybe we'll go there too). There are also a dozen more states that I'd like them to see.

For the poster who stated "Europe in your teens and then what?", "then" my sons can go to all of the countries we haven't been to yet or they can go back to where we've been.

As for the travel costs, our sons know what our trips cost. They also know that they have to work hard in school, and out in the real world eventually, so that they can afford to take the trips that they took growing up. My husband (who has been to at least 60 countries including a one year around the world odyssey at age 20) did a lot of backpacking in his college and young adults years around the world on very little money. Our kids will probably do the same someday (well, maybe not the younger one- he loves a good 4* or 5* hotel).
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Old Aug 21st, 2006, 01:15 PM
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I think taking kids who are old enough to have an understanding of where they are going and what they are seeing is a good idea. I think taking infants or very young children is not a good idea, as one will be taking them away from healthy childish activities, and forcing them into activities that will almost certainly bore them and, too often, offend other people.

But I suspect it is very hard to get a truly honest answer to this question, as we all shade our experiences to make what we are doing seem right. Thus, parents of a two-year old, who themselves enjoy visiting museums, are unlikely to recognize that their child doesn't; or parents who have a concern that they are not spending enough time with their children (which I suspect is a common feeling now that we expect both parents to work), would be reluctant to leave a young child with someone else, so will rationalize that the child really enjoyed the companionship of the trip, even though he cried and slept all the way.

I had a traditional family, but my children are having to deal with the two-worker ideal we have established, and I know there is some concern that the child will bond more closely with the nanny, or the grandparent, than with the parent, and that can easily lead to taking the kids on a business trip or other adult activity, which I think do not benefit the child.

Being an effective parent is not easy, and I think to be one you have to, often, place your children's interests ahead of your own.
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Old Aug 21st, 2006, 03:03 PM
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I am enjoying all the different perspectives. I really like to hear the success stories-it makes me think no one has ever had a bad trip with their kids-ah if only it were true!!
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Old Aug 21st, 2006, 04:59 PM
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Go! I just asked my 10y old and he agreed. Our first trip to Europe was when our oldest was 14 mo. (he's now 10y). Our first trip with kids to Europe was to Lisbon and Madrid. We have been to Greece, France, England, and Italy with kids. We have 2 boys, 7y and 10y. Our kids are not perfect, but we have great family time.

While in Italy our 7yr old who was 6y enjoyed Pizza all over Italy. Our other son told us he'd like to visit the ice mummy museum, so we made our trip head to Bolzano. Our 10 yr old has many ideas of things to see. He is always excited. Now learning history and geography in school is more meaningful.

Not really a worst part, we just learned to go with the flow. I'd rent apartments if possible, it would make life much easier.

Find a country that interests the family and have the kids help plan.

Oh and buy the Porsche, just buy used, and don't forget the other Porsche's as well. Lots of fun cars out there.

Have a great time planning.

Travelatte



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Old Aug 21st, 2006, 05:58 PM
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Here's another YAY vote!

I was bit by the travel bug at the age of 5, and made my first trip from Florida to the UK to spend the summer with my grandmother. I haven't stopped since! I made trips to both the UK and Greece throughout my childhood, both solo (to stay with family) and as family trips. I remember each and every one of them and am thankful I was able to go.

Because of money (or a lack thereof!) I waited until my kids were older to expose them to the gypsy in their blood!

They took their first trip last year (UK), my oldest was 15, and the youngest two were 12. Because they were older, a requirement of the trip was for them to do the research and come up with a list of 'must-dos' and 'would-like-to-dos'. We based our itinerary on their lists.

I really think that because they were so involved with the planning and execution of the trip that they got more out of it. Each child had things that they were responsible for, and they knew that they/we had to work together as a team to accomplish the pre-trip, on-trip and post-trip items. As much as the twins might bicker and bitch at home, they got along like best friends on the trip.

Without a doubt, it was a success, so much so that we're going to Europe again either at Christmas or over Spring Break. Again, they will be involved in the 'where', 'when' and 'what'.

I'm going to Italy in October with a group of friends from work, and the kids understand that's my time. I've already been instructed to bring back good details so that they can decide if that's where they want to go on their next trip.




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