Traveling with little ones is not for the faint at heart. Someone once told me to always think of it as a trip rather than a vacation and I now hold those words true to my heart as I pack all the things and work through all the logistics.
Although traveling with kids is not sipping pina coladas on the beach and leisurely trying all the local breweries after long morning hikes in the mountains, it definitely still holds some value and, most of the time, enjoyment.
We have not been overly ambitious or adventurous as far as traveling with our kids, but we have made sure to make it a priority. We decided early on that we would take the trip for several reasons:
*inspires a sense of wonder and awe as kids get to see people, places, activities and beautiful landscape outside of their home.
*allows for uninterrupted family time that can be so hard to come by during the hustle and bustle of every day life with work, sports, school and a home to maintain.
*creates memories shared among family members.
In order to make our travel somewhat easier and more enjoyable we have tried to instill a few rules for ourselves along the way.
*Be prepared to navigate unexpected waters. While I often enjoy a plan I remind myself that kids may not always be in a place that they can stick to the plan I have in mind.
*Go into everything with lower expectations and be pleasantly surprised when the kids excel. I tell myself that the drive could be a nightmare, the kids may not love the activity I have in mind or we may only make a mile of the three mile hike. Any time they can do more or bring the peace it is a success.
*Be overprepared for car rides with all the snacks, games, tablets, new toys and extra clothes.
*Take the bare minimum for flights in order to have less to juggle both inflight and through the airport.
*Be willing to do normal activities like visiting the local playgrounds and taking family walks. I find it hard to do things I can do at home, but I have also found it keeps the kids expenentially happier.
*Be grateful. Not everyone has the opportunity to take their kids on adventures, big or small, and it should truly be a cherished time.
Our two and four year olds have been to both the beach and mountains, traveled on an airplane, camped in a tent, and experienced various adventures on our travels. We have never taken them out of the country and typically only travel a week or two out of the year, but if you have the opportunity to talk to them for any length of time they will immediately begin to talk about these cherished memories and their love for the places they have had the opportunity to go. Although it is not always fun and easy it is certainly always worth it in the end. Take the trip… your children will thank you.