Traveling With Kids
I’m here to tell you that traveling with kids is magical.
We’ve traveled through every stage of life…
Single, we traveled with friends and alone. Alone you get to do what you want, when you want. You are forced to make friends on the road. Solo, you fit on every tour and never have to wait. I went off to Ghana with a girl friend and we jumped at every side trip we could find with only a moments notice.
Traveling as a couple means spending lots of time with your significant other. Your never bored since you always have someone to chat with. Long walks, sitting in a cafe and squishing into small hotel rooms increase your flexibility. We checked off a lot of “cultural to do’s” traveling alone, but often felt like tourists.
Even traveling pregnant had its advantages! In Paris I was given a pass at Disneyland Paris to skip the line on and wait in the shade. In Japan, I was given a special “pregnancy pass” for the subway. I was nervous to eat all the local foods though and often sick at the new smells.
We currently have two boys, ages one and three. Although traveling with them is logistically complicated, we love it. They are always willing to try new things and interested in meeting everyone. They see such joy in the littlest things that we would have walked past while checking off our to do list.
I’m always asked how we manage to do so much with the kids, so here are some thoughts on how we plan trips with the kiddos.
Jeff is amazing at making itineraries for the kids. We love using Google Drive, so that we have access to the itineraries on our phones and we can share them with others when needed (or after a trip.) We start a page by adding everything we think we might like to do on there. Sort of like brainstorming, there are no bad ideas. We always try to include the cost, address and opening times and hours.
I like to plot everything on a google map. It gives me a good idea of what is in the same area. You can also plot your walking, driving or public transit route. I also love to use the Google Street View. If we are catching a tour at a certain landmark, I always use Google Street View to preview the place so its familiar when we get there.
When we start to narrow down the trip activities we don’t narrow them all the way down. We usually pick one thing we are going to do that day. Then we keep some other options on the itinerary in case … it rains, the kids are up early, the kids are up late or we just need outside time.
In the moment I love using foursquare to find a playground or quick bite to eat near me. There are always pictures and reviews. I really love foursquare though because they are the best at keeping an updated database. We have never had a problem with being referred to a place that is closed or not open on a particular day. If you use Swarm to check in then Foursquare also gets smarter about places you might like. I know some people love Yelp or TripAdvisor, but I just haven’t been as happy with them. Personal Preference.
Traveling with kids lets us be a bit more like locals. We tend to try to find places to grab a picnic and scout out a park with a good playground to eat. If we are in the car we always have a picnic blanket with us for some park downtime. I usually scour local mom blogs to find out what people are doing with their kids, be it a library or a museum’s toddler time. If we are in a place long enough there is usually a “parent” magazine that is free around town that we pour over for some ideas as well. A perfect day usually starts with something the adults want to do, that is kid friendly and ends with something particularly kid focuses… or ice cream… we eat a lot of ice cream!
Most importantly though is flexibility. You never know when one of the kids will randomly fall asleep on you – we’ve been known to then push to something really far away to extend the car nap or park the stroller under the tree for some park downtime. We’ve had kids get sick and have opted to just bail on the trip and head home early in the morning. We are constantly altering our plans to meet the kids needs, but along the way we always stumble into some fun, more local, experiences.
Its always fun to check out a place with the kids. A completely different experience then when we traveled without them!
Looking for more encouragement or ideas on where to take the kids? Here are a few of my favorite “take the kids” blogs.
Feel free to share more travel with kids or expat blogs in the comments. I always love adding to my reading list.