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How has having a family changed the way you travel?

How has having a family changed the way you travel?

Old Dec 6th, 2005, 07:12 PM
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How has having a family changed the way you travel?

My husband and I are expecting our first child next May. We have had the opportunity to travel to some wonderful places over the years including San Francisco and the wine country, Playa del Carmen Mexico and most recently Amsterdam and Paris. We will naturally be on budget for a while after our baby comes and even though some do it, I have no plans of taking an airplane ride with all the gear you need for at least the first year. My question is how did you change the way you traveled or where you traveled (if at all) after a family? Did you try to frequent the "family destinations" or did you adapt your destination for a family?
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Old Dec 6th, 2005, 07:26 PM
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1. ONLY direct flights

2. Condos, suites or 2 connecting rooms when they are under age 3

3. Travel only within the same or 1 hour difference in time zones

4. Found a car seat that I could prop up securely on the stroller. When flying I learned to take the stroller down the ramp for "gate-check"

5. After a couple of horrible experiences while traveling with little ones under age 18 months, we decided to avoid all flights over 3 hours until age 3. (Age 4 is better... I always say "Age 4 opens the door...")

6. We discovered early on that vacationing with a young child is not really a vacation. For us it was always much, much more work and harder to take care of Baby or Toddler when they were out of their environment.

7. I know several people who traveled frequently with very young children and had a wonderful time. That was certainly NOT our experience. Wait until your child is born and his personality is revealed. Then you can decide if or how to travel.
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Old Dec 6th, 2005, 08:10 PM
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For us, anyway, the question, once you have the baby, is not what's good for you, rather what's best for the baby.

Once you have a baby, most folks focus on taking care of the baby, verus taking care of yourselves.

Now that all the kids are out of the house, we can do whatever we please.

But, up until then, we chose to focus on the children and their needs/desires/preferences, and what we could offer them, versus dragging them and the "gear" everywhere we may have thought we wanted to go.

When you're a family, you do "family" things, or not. I cannot even imagine how you could "adapt your destination to a family".

If you were a wee one, would you appreciate a flight? Being strapped into a stoller when you have the overwhelming desire to run, climb, all about and touch everything? Would you want to be "shushed" all the day and night when you've just discovered you can create sound?

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Old Dec 6th, 2005, 09:25 PM
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We took camping vacations until the youngest was three and then we took them to Hawaii. Because they are both great travelers they've been fun. Trips to Disneyland before age three, we found, were a waste of money.
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Old Dec 6th, 2005, 09:43 PM
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You won't really know what you or your child will want to do (or put up with!) until you see what his or her personality is like. You will learn from experience what works and what doesn't! We try small trips first, then get more adventurous when the kids get older. Some kids go with the flow and others fight it with all their might. We've been lucky to have happy travelers, but we're always overprepared. Don't expect too much out of them, whatever you think you can accomplish in a day cut at least in half and then you will feel "ahead of the game" if you can do that and more. Remember, they ARE just kids after all!
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Old Dec 6th, 2005, 10:36 PM
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There's a lot of good info on traveling with kids out there-some of my friends love the tips Rick Steves gives (there's a lot of stuff about this on his web site) and I know others who have found the traveling with kids forum on the Lonely Planet message board very helpful.

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Old Dec 6th, 2005, 10:51 PM
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As said, direct flights, condos, rental homes, connecting rooms - we often brought one of our mothers/parents or babysitter - when we could leave baby/babies at home, we did short trips alone, even a one nighter in a nearby city seemed like a week away - but by the time they were five they were going everywhere, and by the time they were eight and over they were really traveling, and by the time they were in their 20's they know the nightlife of our destinations better than we do since we are asleep as they are going out. We still traveled when they were young, but as someone said, you'll have to wait and see what the little one is like. But most babies and toddlers do well if you stay where you have easy access to the room/house/condo and can do day trips from there - you will find lots of wonderful destinations for families - different than what you might have chosen without baby/toddler but just a different adventure.
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Old Dec 6th, 2005, 11:43 PM
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Absolutely it did!

roadtrip travel - need a bigger car with bigger backseat and hauling space

flight travel - you can fly for free with baby until age 2 on some airlines which makes it preferable to a long cartrip with a baby

lodging - a minifridge is no longer a novelty

rental cars - get leather seats for inevitable spills

baby naps can really slow you down so you have to plan your schedule around them

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Old Dec 7th, 2005, 01:57 AM
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Regarding destinations - if you follow all the excellent logistical advice given above, destination does not matter when child is under age 4-5. They are generally happy to go to any destination with you if they are comfortable, fed, get lots of attention. What you do in destination may need to be modified (no clubs, concerts, etc.) - but no need to limit your trips to Disney or ChuckECheese.

The fun starts after about age 5 - you get to show them the world. Seeing pyramids in Egypt is great, but showing it to your kids is unbelievable. My kids (now 15 and 19) actually glow (something not common in teenagers!) when they watch sports, news, etc and realize they have been to many of the places shown. The downside is that when they apply to college, distance from home does not seem to phase them.

You also get the sense of accomplishment that you have tried to raise competent kids (they know how to deal with a weather delay at an airport).

That said, for the baby - schedule, condo, short trips - and don't even think about posting here asking for a place you can "relax" at with baby until s/he is about 4. Congrats on the baby - happy trails.
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Old Dec 7th, 2005, 04:59 AM
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When my kids were young (not babies), we did the requisite "car trips" (Boston, Washington DC, Canada, Grand Canyon etc.) and they were fun.

But, THEY would tell you that the vacations THEY LOVED THE MOST were when we'd rent a house on the Outer Banks with family (the grandparents, cousins, etc.) and never move off the beach OR 14 consecutive years that we rented a small cottage in a little "encampment" (14 other ccabins on 300+ acres) on a lake in the Adirondacks with the same families (and their kids) every year.

The only times they'd see these kids would be that one or two weeks in July. They learned to fish, kayak, hike, swim, explore, build sand castles and bonfires, have every contest you could imagine, and JUST BE KIDS.

My kids haved turned out to be very family-oriented, one loves to fly-fish and has fished all over the continent, and both love the outdoors.

Recently (as teens) we went to Europe and they just loved it. I NEVER REGRET waiting until they were older to take them.

When they were small we went on "small vacations" -- and that is what kids like best and are happiest doing. I've never had a desire to drag them along on an adult outting.

BTW, we never did Disney. (Not our thing.).

You know what -- it's OK for people to wait until they are adults for some things.

Remember that -- your child does not have to see everything or do everything before they are 18.

Enjoy being with your child, you don't need a ton of distactions. Focus on simply being together and it will pay off.

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Old Dec 7th, 2005, 05:13 AM
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My wife and I have five children, all under ten years of age. We take all our vacations at the beach. Travel to the rest of the world will have to wait.
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Old Dec 7th, 2005, 05:27 AM
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I don't think its all about the kids. One of the best things you can do for your children is to remember that you are a couple and not just a pair of parents. It is essential that you plan time just for the two of you. I was lucky to have parents that could stay with my children even when they were babies. They loved having that special time with their grandkids. I missed the kids terribly, even on long weekends away, but still enjoyed the trips.
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Old Dec 7th, 2005, 05:36 AM
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When we visit national parks, we hike a LOT less.

But we also visit fun places like water parks and alpine slides a lot more!

We did a lot of beach vacations when the boys were young (and we still take these). But we did not take my youngest on a plane until he was 4 - I didn't want to deal with 2 young kids and all that stuff. We were fortunate to have my parents watch the boys for a week so my husband and I could still get away.
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Old Dec 7th, 2005, 05:51 AM
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You can still travel, it is just a bit more of a hassle. It takes a LOT of time to pack and get through an airport with kids -- not the last minute stuff you could do childless. Traveling the first year is a lot easier than when the baby becomes a toddler -- they don't roam as much and can be fairly happy in their car seat. Don't give up on a good trip the first year. I also agree with the above poster who notes you need to see what temperment your baby will have before you make any big trip plans. I have a friend whose child has been going on trips since he was 6 days old -- at 4 .5 months he went with them on a hiking trip to Spain for three weeks!!! Not what I would do but I have different kids.

1) direct flights
2) minimize time zones
3) condos or suites with fridges
4) bring along babysitter or (willing)grandparents when they get to be toddlers
5) the beach is great for the first 4 years or so
6) get the baby his or her own seat and bring the car seat with you
7) you can't overpack for the flight itself -- lots of food, bottles, toys, books and changes of clothes and diapers
8) a sense of humor

Good luck. It really is fun.
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Old Dec 7th, 2005, 05:57 AM
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I agree with a lot of what the above posters have said, especially Kennedy3. I have two young kids -- one will be 3 in a week and one is 15 mos. So, I haven't hit the "4 opens the door" stage yet. But I can tell you what our vacations look like so far:

1. We almost always go to the beach, even though we don't love the beach. Why? Because it's easy to rent a condo (kitchen is a necessity) and most sightseeing activities or other locales aren't age appropriate for little kids.

2. Condo or suite hotel. You must have 2 rooms. If not, you will go to bed at 8 pm when baby goes to bed!

3. Early, family-friendly dinners.

4. We drive rather than fly. Why? Husband thinks it's a huge hassle to get two kids and two carseats onto the plane. I think it's better than 6 hours in the car with two restless kids, but we've agreed to disagree on this point.

5. Scale back expectations. You won't be able to see/accomplish much when baby needs to nap twice a day and be fed on schedule and get to bed by 8. It's a fact of life.

6. Vacationing with a young child is NOT much of a vacation. You have to do all the same work you do at home, but with less resources.

7. Think about taking a parent or a babysitter if you want a dinner out. Taking grandparents to Sesame Place was one of the best things we ever did. Grandparents were thrilled to spend time with the girls and we had someone to watch the baby/stroller while we took the toddler on the few rides she could do.

8. As they get to be toddlers/preschoolers, you will be looking into resorts or cruises with kids' clubs. We're thinking of a Disney cruise next because the kids' activities are supposed to be awesome.

9. Portable DVD player. 'Nuff said.

10. MUST have laundry facilities. It's not optional.

11. I used to pack on the fly. Now I make a detailed list.

12. Consider a weekend away with hubby if you can get someone to babysit. It is rejuvenating to go to an adult location, do whatever YOU want to do and relax without having to watch the baby.

It's a fact of life that EVERYTHING changes when you have kids. Most of it is great. But your travel habits will change, especially while they're really young. Try to go with the flow. One of the big life lessons of having kids, I'm convinced, is learning that you can't control everything.
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Old Dec 7th, 2005, 05:59 AM
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One other thing that people often underestimate -- infants are VERY portable. When very young, they will go anywhere and may sleep most of the time. So, if you invest in a good stroller/sling/backpack carrier, you can take them lots of places. They get a little less easy when they are toddlers because they want to "walk myself" and you want to be sure to do things that they will enjoy. So don't forget to go out to dinner and to attempt a short trip when baby is young because it gets harder before it gets easier.

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Old Dec 7th, 2005, 06:41 AM
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The first year is not so different; baby is portable and sleeps a lot. After s/he is mobile, watch out! The second child also puts a damper on things, since two or more kids are rarely on the same schedule.

In the vein of "thinking small," get to know the nature reserves and museums in your area. A day out with the kids can be like a vacation without the expense and hassles. Free concerts in the park are another great time - bring a picnic and toys (some even bring a small tent!) When the kids get cranky, you pack up and go home. A good way to stay connected with your extended family is to find a vacation area that is convenient, and meet there for a long weekend every summer. Kids love to revisit places, and you'll all be building memories.
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Old Dec 7th, 2005, 07:02 AM
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All good thoughts, but not a one poster has considered the long term.

Just observing, and not only myself, believe me:

Teen-aged and grown children both hindered/limited travel much, much more than they did when small, in my case. School activities, rites of passage, all the big events in their own lives, illness/hospitalizations etc. for grandchildren/children/parents as we age and they need help etc. Not even considering the "Oh no, you aren't staying here all alone with your friends years."

The logistics of travel just changes, and it is always possible, don't get me wrong. BUT, you (especially if you are NOT a couple and you know guys, there are a whole lot of us out there)may find it harder than you think, just to put the long trips off "for later."

Sounds like a whole lot of you are very lucky, lucky people. With retirement actually coming later now (66 for most Americans born after 1948)on the average and other distance and extended family situations that are common in the USA- I wouldn't assume that later will be easier.

Saying that, I also agree with so many of the above that a place on a beach, lake or in the country to return to time and time again while the children grow is also priceless. That's why I have really cut into my own travel time to maintain and have a lake house for all of my family to grow strong roots and irreplaceable sustained memories.

And Birdie, very few Grandma's and Grandpa's are able to be off of their own jobs enough, have the extra time, and/or be close enough in distance with logistics to have the "leave the kids with your mother" routine work as well as it once did. And we also don't/won't want to be staying at home "baby-sitting" as most think either. Of course that isn't universal, but it's getting close. I've had three friends ask me "how to say no". Don't assume just because it is done in a good spirit either.

And after all IS said and done, time runs out. So as it stands now, I'm not putting anything off that becomes possible with travel- even if I have to take a 2 or 3 year old grandchild along to make it possible for MY kids.

One regret: I wish I had taken my own kids to Europe in the teen-years. I was absolutely too poor to do so and that can't be recouped.
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Old Dec 7th, 2005, 07:57 AM
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ilovetulips: First, congratulations!
Our son will be 4 in March and he's a handful (high energy).
We go to places where the flight time is no longer than 4 hours. Since we live in the Northeast, we've targeted places like Florida and the Caribbean.
There are 3 airports in our area. We always travel out of the one closest to our home even if the airfare is cheaper at the other 2 airports.
We also aim for non-stop flights but we haven't always done that. So we've stayed overnight in Miami and continued traveling the next day and that has worked out great for us.
We don't believe in going into a country and not seeing it so we've tried to stick to countries that are small and don't have too many things to see (because we don't want to "drag" him everywhere)....but again we haven't always done that. We've been to Mexico twice with him and did the ruins and a lot of other stuff... He was great. Maybe in a couple of years, we'll attempt Europe.
We do family-oriented hotels.
Until this year, we used to travel whenever we wanted but he's now in a school that focuses heavily in speech therapy (he's a bit late in speech) so we obviously are not going to pull him out of the program when we feel like it. Once he's 5 and in regular school, it'll be the same deal. So from now on, our vacations are tied to his school's days off.
I think he was a little over 1 when we took our first trip with him (Caribbean). We go away 2 to 3 times a year with him and he's a little pro now and just like his parents, a true beach lover.
I'll add one more thing: if you can, if you have parents/siblings nearby who can and would love to watch your child for a few days (and that you implicitly trust of course), go away at least once a year just you and your spouse for a long weekend somewhere. It's easy to forget about the "couple" in you and let the "parents" take over 100% of your life. Well...it does anyway .
Good luck.
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Old Dec 7th, 2005, 08:00 AM
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We traveled to San Francisco when our twins were 5 months old. This trip went really great, kennedy gives good advice take stroller all the way to the gate for gate check. At 5 months the baby is still pretty imobile so they enjoyed being in the stroller or being held. At 14 months we went to Disneyland with them and that was a nightmare. At this age they wanted to walk everywhere and with the crowds at the park it was very frustrating.
Now we have run into other problems when we travel. Our twins are now 4 and we have a 2 year old also, with DH and myself that makes 5, most hotel rooms do not allow 5 people in 1 room. So we have to pay more money then we would like to get suites or we "fudge" it and say we only have 2 kids (I know shame on us).
We have altered our travel since kids, just with destination areas, now we go to family destinations to keep their interest. We live in Vegas and last December we went to Florida (about 6 hours with plane change) and the kids did really well. The time difference never impacted my kids at all. We just jumped right into it, for example when we landed in Florida it was dinner time so we went to dinner, simple as that.
My advice for you...travel NOW!! Then when baby arrives take a trip someplace close to home and see how that works for you. I love taking my kids places and so I would say don't stop traveling just because you will have a little one, you may have to alter your plans a little (i.e. take things slower, may not be able to "do" everything on the list) but who cares, you will make wonderful memories together. I think when people travel with little ones and they have that commando agenda is when it gets to be too much! Have fun, your little one is lucky that you do love to travel, look at all the many Americans that don't travel they kids will never gain the experiences of travel/cultures.
Congratulations on the upcoming arrival!!!
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