You might not be traveling in style, but once you start traveling with kids, it suddenly won’t even matter. There will be more important things on the agenda than fashion, must see sights, lists…, things like fun, ice-creams and beaches.
1.) Must see sights.
“Don’t come back from London without visiting these best places…” Just reading the guide books used to overwhelm me. How were we to visit all of it in only a couple of days and not return home more tired and unnerved than when we left?
Then came travel with kids. Two hours into our inaugural family trip I threw all the guide books away, because for kids there are no top ten places one shouldn’t miss. There is only what they don’t want to miss: day at the beach instead of the stuffy overcrowded gallery, local playground not the queues for the Eiffel tower, Hyde Park with an ice cream in hand rather than Victoria and Albert museum.
I am well aware of the irony that kids were the ones to put me off lists. I used to excel at planning and packing and I rarely forgot anything. As a Mom I should be even more responsible. If I am dragging my kids across the Ocean, I should make sure there is nothing we are missing.
But honestly I have had it with lists, calendars and keeping it all together 24/7. I also realized that every family trip we take is different: new location, weather, temperatures, kids’ age and interests… There are only a few no brainers I make sure we remember to bring: credit cards, travel insurance, passports and kids’ favorite toys.
3.) Other people.
“Please don’t let them sit next to me,” I used to silently chant when a woman carrying a baby approached my row on the airplane. Now, we are the cause of these prayers. But I don’t sweat it. We had ample practice in galleries, museums, on airplanes…
I can’t expect my kids to fall in love with art, backpacking, admiring nature… if all they know is running around on the playground. So you’ll have to bear with me as I my kids learn and I’ll put a smile on my face, when you approach me with your kid in a few years.
4.) Family friendly places.
“We have to do this, now before we have the kids, you know how it is then.” I can remember saying something along these lines and we regularly hear this from our friends. But our girls showed us that traveling with kids doesn’t equal theme parks, cruises or all-inclusive resorts. It could on occasion, but they know how to have fun elsewhere too.
They loved train hopping through Japan, running around remote beaches of Scotland, exploring small villages of the Czech Republic that made them believe fairy-tales are real…
“Mommy needs some time alone now.” The Sunday after our two week vacation in the north of Scotland I locked myself in the bathroom. After an hour I emerged as a new person and not resembling something a cat dragged in. While I enjoy dressing up for work and like to look presentable, I don’t want to be bothered with it on our trips.
That’s the time to think about where to stop for food, how to get that right shot of the lake, is the museum still open… and not wonder if I remembered to put on my waterproof mascara.
Traveling with kids gave me a great excuse – I don’t have time as I have to get two kids ready – to relax, put on comfy tights and trainers and walk around with no makeup.
We should really be saving money, not spending it all on our trips. Once the kids come it’s all going to be different. It turns out, it’s really not that different, they too are happier with us visiting the zoo then with another stuffed animal that’s fun to play with for the first ten minutes or collecting pebbles on the beach than sitting on the new couch and not touching anything.
If these days we have to choose between Paris and a piece of furniture, toy or a new purse, it will always be Paris. Because travel is an invitation to an adventure and a chance to create memories to last us a lifetime.