Parenting & Travel Blog with tips, guides, reviews and honesty about family travel and parenting.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Truth about Travelling with Kids

It sucks. There, I said it. Travelling with your kids can be a miserable, terrible and soul sucking experience. I know my posts on my blog and on my instagram tell a different story. The story of whimsical days at the beach, frolicking together in the warm gentle waves; of walking city blocks hand in hand exploring big city culture; of fun filled family days at amusement parks; of building memories that we will forever cherish.


Ok, not all complete lies. I may be a little bit dramatic here (I like to think of it as one of my endearing quirks.) If you ask my kids, 99% of the time they come back with stories of the great time they've had and usually forget about the times that mom screamed - a lot. I usually come back from our trips and upload our pictures and think, wow - what a great time that was. The pictures remind me how breathtaking Haleakala was and how much fun the kids had playing in both oceans in Panama and how adventurous the kids were trying oysters in New York.

What those pictures fail to tell is how sick three of us felt from the altitude change and how we hung back in the car; how the no see 'ems ate us up alive in the Atlantic ocean to the point where we couldn't even sleep; and how much the kids complained that they were still hungry after eating dozens of oysters (and spending all my money). Because who actually takes pictures of the miserable moments? The whining, complaining, tantrum throwing, yelling, crying just don't make it into the photos. I just don't think to pull out the camera and document that part of the reality of our travelling, because I'm often too busy putting out the fires, wiping tears away (mine) and trying to (but often failing) to stay calm.

Also, If I'm also being completely honest here, there is a little bit of shame associated with the honesty too. I don't want to come home and only remember the terrible moments. I don't want to admit my kids made me cry on our vacation and that I wanted to leave them in Halifax to finish our East Coast trip while I flew home by myself (true story, I even checked the return flights!).

There is a lot of time, money and energy spent on planning and doing these trips, and I do them because I want to show my kids the beauty of this world. I want to show them different cultures, expose them to people and customs from around the world, to have them try new food and to see the beauty of our planet with their own eyes. I want to take in their reactions and see things that I've seen before through their lens. I also want my kids to be grateful and appreciative for these experiences and to be on their best behaviour at all times justifying the cost & time associated with travel and reassuring me of my competent parenting skills. I'm not asking that much (ha!)

Reality: not all of them will be happy posing for pictures
But we all know what the reality of travelling with kids can be, and frankly the everyday reality of parenting in general. It's not perfect, and that's ok. I have to remember that, but I also have to keep the following in mind when I travel with my family:

  1. There will be tears most days: and some days those tears will be mine. Just pack tissues.
  2. There will be complaints: of being bored, or tired or hungry. Pack snacks, lots of them. And maybe ear plugs. 
  3. Adjust your expectations: think the kids will be overjoyed with seeing The Mona Lisa or be thrilled with being taken to the most magical place on earth - Disney? Maybe some of the time, but they may also just be happy playing at a local playground so if they are happy, let them be.
  4. Remember that they do appreciate the work: just like with everything else involved in parenting, kids will one day, eventually appreciate what amazing experiences you've given them. I hope.
  5. Sometimes the trip isn't about them: it's about you and for you. Disney World was for my kids, but Udaipur was for me, and that's okay because the kids came along for the ride and were wowed themselves.
  6. A family trip still means parenting: Just because we are on a gorgeous beach in Maui, doesn't mean that I'm on vacation ( do parents ever really get a vacation?). I may not have to cook all of our meals, but I still have to parent. I still have to plan our daily itinerary, and pack the snacks and water bottles and set the navigation or pick out the restaurant and make sure we eat our meals before the hangry sets in. Oh and wipe snot, kiss the boo-boos, breakup the fights - you know - parenting. Just in Paradise.
  7. Set Time for me: I don't usually escape to the spa on family trips (although maybe I should!), but usually working in a 20 minute walk by myself, or browsing in a store or sitting on my own reading gives me the mental space I need to breathe. The kids can sit in front of the i-pad for awhile if they need to - it's their vacation too.

What do you do to help you enjoy the most out of travelling with your kids?


1 comment

  1. You've got some great advice here! While there are some great positives - like introducing them to the world, experiencing things together, etc., there are also some expectations that need to be considered when travelling with kids!


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