I almost didn’t write this post. See, I read travel-with-kids blogs (lots of them, actually) and I am pretty sure there are families that really do pull off travel with kids without the bumps and detours that we run into.
However, those blogs are primarily written by digital nomads (look it up, it’s a thing). And we’re more in the category of ‘normal family that loves to travel’ than ‘travel as a lifestyle.’ Still, you should know that there are definitely families out there that have perfected the art of family travel (and that we aren’t in that category- haha!).
A few of the hilarious travel with kids truths that we confirm each time we take a trip-
There are compromises at every turn. And not compromises like, “I would rather go to the modern art wing but Burke and Piper would rather check out the Monet display.” No, compromises like, “I am not an advocate for kids drinking sugar, but somehow orange, strawberry, and grape Fanta are all part of our memories of Hong Kong and Singapore.” Seriously. Fanta.
Kids are a tough crowd. Things Burke and Piper have been less than impressed by- Ephesus (the ancient city), the Tian Tian Buddha, the Acropolis.
On the flip side, kids are easy to impress. Animals of any kind do the trick for my kids (we’re talking lizards, butterflies, crabs, other people’s pets). Also, public transportation, fountains, lights/lasers, toy stores, bakeries, and McDonalds (or any other American chain restaurant) all hold their rapt attention. What you want to hear at the end of a two-week, multi country trip, “I think my favorite place that we ate on this trip was Burger King.” Oh dear.
Rather expensive (and not at all anticipated) purchases are part of the game. For example, Piper broke one of her sandals on the flight to Hong Kong. Since our trip was in November, finding replacement shoes was an entire-day, $30-Roxy-flip-flops kind of affair. We’ve also purchased a pack ‘n play in Athens, $7 bottled water (multiple times, actually), a ridiculously overpriced umbrella… you get the idea. Now, these things happen in regular travel, but kids (at least our kids) have a lower level of tolerance for uncomfortable things, so these scenarios have multiplied exponentially since adding little travelers to our crew.
Pools. Just pools. Since we frequent pools and beaches every weekend in Saipan, it always feels a bit funny to me to spend a whole morning (or even day!) at the pool in an exotic locale where we have limited time. However, the pay off of pool time far outweighs the benefit of seeing one more tourist attraction (with grouchy kids in tow).
There is not a direct correlation between the length of travel time and suckiness of travel day. I can feel all of you mama’s who have had a short little flight go badly awry (one that should, in theory, go off without a hitch) nodding along with me here. Shorter travel times do not mean easier trips. I don’t know why this is the case, but it’s true.
However, a really long travel day sucks every time. I don’t know what the magic number of travel time hours is where things can still go well. I do know that we have never had a 20+ hour travel day that turned out ok. Well, one time. But we had a long layover and Club Lounge passes, so that doesn’t count.
Michelin stars don’t count to kids. One of the best parts of travel for me and Adam is the food we get to try in the places that we visit. We start researching restaurants that we want to try on our trips when we buy our plane tickets. We try to plan kid friendly fare for most of our meals, but also throw in a few select highly-recommended (but still casual) restaurants. Our kids usually hate these places. Most recently, we were eating at Tim Ho Wan (a Michelin starred dim sum spot) in Hong Kong and Burke and Piper could not find a good thing to say about the place. Guys, the food was generically-good-to-great (as opposed to weird-good-to-great), but they were having an off night and we spent much of dinner giving them dirty looks as they covered their mouths and mumbled, “I do-on’t li-ike this.” Weasels.
Now, obviously, we are still the hugest (HUGEST) advocates of family travel! But perhaps knowing the ‘adventures’ that await will help you plan your next trip? Or just help you feel better when you buy your kids Starbucks frappacinos? Either way, happy travels, friends!