I have always loved to travel. When I was still single, travelling was a major part of my life. I constantly check on airline ticket sales to make sure I get the best, cheapest deal to travel to my dream destination. Then, it would be followed by endless planning of my trip. It takes all my stress away!
So, when I got married and had kids, this addiction continues. Well, it was a pricey habit but as the saying goes, travelling is an expense that makes you richer. That is true.
We live in Europe so a trip by car, for me, is the most convenient. Not, of course, to the
person who drives (Hi, Husband!), but still, we chose this method because it’s cheaper and we get to manage the children easier. But, it is not a trip to the clouds. Travelling with small children is a huge task. You have to have 2 cups of patience and a little bit of luck.
Two days before our trip, I list all the things that we need to bring. That could be a whole bedroom, sometimes. I never did this when I travelled with friends before. I tried to be spontaneous. Now, I keep crossing my fingers that I do not forget anything despite me having a list. Like that one time I forgot to pack any underwear for my husband. Oops!
Snacks, drinks, nappies, wipes – these are on top of my list. It’s like going on a picnic. I just think of it that way. Travelling is supposed to be fun, not to stress you out just because you have little backpackers with you. And don’t forget those toys that will make your kids feel at home. It’s really a big help especially when the kids become impatient and start asking you “Are we there yet?” every 30 seconds.
When you have a child below 2 years of age, it’s always a good idea to sit at the back with him/her. This is to your advantage. As for us, our 5-year old sit in front, in his car seat, beside his Daddy. I, then, sit at the back with our 1-year old so I can attend to her thousand needs immediately. We are the kind of people who can’t stand constant crying while on a trip so we try to avoid this awful trip to wee land by sitting next to the most demanding child in the family. I guarantee you a smooth, quiet and fun road trip.
Weather is also important especially if you have two (or more), whiny children with you. You do not want to stroll along a nice village under all those rain and puddles. If luck is not your side weather-wise, there are always indoor attractions like museums to keep the little ones occupied while you’re waiting for the rain to stop or for the weather to be a little cooler (when it’s too hot and sunny). Or you could always sit down in a cafe or drop by a library.
Perks of having small kids travelling with you
Travelling with small children also comes with good discounts and most of the time, free admission to museums and parks. This is one of the reasons why, as early as now, we travel with them as often as we can. They’re not kids forever, anyway. You’re going to hear those “kaching” soon.
Aside from free park admission, theme parks, like Disneyland, have a rider/child/baby-swap facility where you and your partner can take turns to ride without going back to the queue.
It’s pretty sweet and saves you a lot of time. You have access to baby changing rooms, too that are usually less crowded (and less smelly) than regular toilets. I am not rich nor a ‘gold’ traveler so, these small privileges for families with small children mean so much to me already.
Let’s not forget the bucks you save when booking a hotel where small children are welcome and can stay for free. Not only you get a decent room, you can also get a little assurance that hotel staff will treat you better because – children. One good example was that time we stayed in a boutique hotel in Luebeck, Germany. The hotel does not have air conditioning and it was summer then. The room was warm. Getting a fan is chargeable (not surprising) however, when I told the staff that my two children are uncomfortable with a warm and stuffy room, they gave us an electric fan for free. In my own opinion and experience, hotels’ staff are more accommodating to families with kiddos than any other type of guests.
We do have challenges along the way. Topping the list is how it is a bit difficult to find a place to eat when travelling with small children. Most of the time, we would end up in a fast food chain because – happy/kiddie meals – that’s why! And trust me, when you’re borderline nauseous and hungry, you’ll take the fastest meal you can get no matter how crappy and ordinary it is. It was way, way different than when I was travelling with friends
before where we can go all out adventurous when it comes to food. We try practically everything local. You can’t just easily do that when you have small children asking for a meal with a toy in it. To cut all the whining and dragging of hands, just buy that happy meal and go someplace else where you and your partner can have a decent meal.
We don’t always have success stories with our trips but we surely learn a lot of things. I, for one, became more organized. We take itineraries seriously as to not miss out on important parts of our trip. We manage a big amount of tantrums every trip and that made us more patient and composed. It can also teach our kids the importance of appreciating and respecting other people’s way of life. That there’s more to this world apart from the corners and comfort of our home.
So, go on an adventure with your little ones. It’s not always easy but it sure is fun. A little challenge won’t hurt anyone. 😉