The Untold Truths About Traveling with Kids and Why It’s All Worth It

St. Louis

January is over. Spring is coming, and in the blink of an eye, summer will be here. It’s time to plan for summer break. When we don’t have children to consider and we plan a vacation, we only have to worry about which island has the warmest water, or which ski resort has more slopes. When we have children, a whole new world of possibilities joins the plan (I wrote POSSIBILITIES, not destinations, not more islands, not more ski slopes …).

In the last few years, after having made many trips as a Mom (and no longer as a graduation trip, or work travel, or even a honeymoon vacation), I think it’s mandatory to share some truths that travel agencies usually omit:  

–  You will commit to always travel light. I mean, besides the indispensable clothes, you will “only” pack  the baby car seat, boosters for the oldest, stroller, stroller shield, backpacks with snacks, tablets, first aid kit, stuffed animals  for sleeping, snowsuits, swim life jackets…


– You will be super cautious and pack lots of diapers, until you realize that you left the diapers in the checked luggage. And your baby will spend the 9-hour flight wanting to drink water, juices, milk … (so, 1 diaper + lots of fluids + 9 hours of flight = ok, use your imagination…).

– When passing through security at the airport, your children will ask the most embarrassing questions and make the most inappropriate comments, and you will be so nervous that security will assume you are carrying a bomb with you. Of course, you’ll be stopped and regret the foolish idea you had of traveling with kids.

Disneyworld, Florida

– You want to rest, so you will allow unlimited screen time during the trip. But, right after taking off you will realize that you forgot to download all the games and movies. Then you will have to decide if you pay a fortune for that Wi-Fi, or save the money and handle the tantrums for the remaining 8 hours and 17 minutes of your flight.

– You will also take a hand sanitizer in each backpack, hoping everyone will clean their hands several times (germ alert!), after using airports, tour buses, subways, etc. But, by the end of the first hour of your flight delay, your kids will be rolling over on the floor, and sharing snacks with an unknown kid.

– You will have your social media filled with saved posts related to the trendy food spots in your destination. But you will only be visiting them through the screen of your smartphone, since you and your family will only be eating fast food, 3 times a day, every day of  your trip.


– You will be so very grateful to be in a place where most people do not understand your idioms, nor the bribes, threats and desperate ultimatums you hopelessly make to your children, while simulating a smile of tranquility.

– When scheduling expensive and wonderful shows, consider that while everyone else in the audience is delighted with the lights and the music, you will just want to be able to maneuver the damn stroller in the middle of that crowd and, hopefully, still catch the end of the show.


Now that you know the truth, please go ahead and pack, and take the kids to see the world. It is not easy (but it is easier than keeping them confined at home, getting bored while you clean the house). It is not cheap (but it may not be as expensive as buying them brand name clothes, or the latest generation smartphones that they don’t really need). It also requires tolerance and flexibility (but isn’t that what we want to teach our children, future citizens of this increasingly complex world?).

New York City

Just go. Show your children the world and enjoy the ride. The world will pay you back.



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Maria Ines Goncalves is yet another Portuguese mom named Maria (like most of the women in Portugal), but now she is a Portuguese mom in the USA. Born in Portugal, Maria graduated with a degree in Political Science and believed she was not ready for motherhood, wanting to pursue her career and travel the world, although not wanting to live overseas. Guess what? She turned into a stay-at-home-mom of three (2007, 2010 and 2018) and moved to St. Louis due to her husband's job in 2017. Changes are a pattern in her life and, when she’s not adjusting to another life change, she loves to dance, bake, photograph, sew, draw and paint with the kids. But mainly she loves to enjoy the beauty and craziness of motherhood, her real and most precious purpose in life.