“Kids change the way that you travel”. This phrase is commonly repeated to new parents, but the reality of this doesn’t really set in until you take your first big trip with a baby.
Now that we survived the traveling with toddlers age with our kids, we can now adequately appreciate the challenges that traveling with a kids can bring. Traveling with kids also brings new opportunities and a pleasant change of pace that can be refreshing, once you can shift your expectations around a little bit.
If you enjoy this, here are some of my other pieces about traveling with kids:
- Top Tips for Train Travel in Europe with Kids
- 7 useful Things I Learned from Traveling with 2 Kids Alone
- Why We Are Taking the Kids on a Cruise
- Busting 5 Common Fears of Traveling with a Toddler
We were those manic, see everything travelers, frantically covering the globe, trying to see everything, every where, as fast as possible. We would pack our days, morning until night, doing whatever necessary to see all of the “must see” sights in any new destination.
This strategy is wonderful and exhausting and completely and utterly impossible with little people in tow.
Be flexible, and realize that you won’t see EVERYTHING when traveling with kids…and that’s ok!
When our kiddos were little, we usually didn’t get to see everything on our list. We might have missed [gasp] a major attraction because it would have been too grueling for the little ones (and thus not fun for parents).
We sometimes rushed through a museum and see only the highlights because nap time is coming and a meltdown would have happened if we stayed a moment longer.
With little ones, We tried to plan for no more than one big, must see attraction per day, and sometimes one “wish list” attraction that is lower on the priority list for the afternoon. We sandwiched these with plenty of time for playing in the park and ice creams stops for good measure!
Divide and Conquer!
Divide and conquer has become an ongoing strategy in our travel tool belt. If one or both parents really wants to see something that it NOT kid friendly, sometimes we leave one parent with both kids or one parent takes the “easier” child to the sight while the other does something more fun with the other kid.
Options can include other nearby kid friendly attractions, ice cream (always a favorite) or a visit to a local playground.
When utilizing this strategy, it is always a good idea to think ahead and keep track of where nearby parks and attractions are on a map. This makes it easy to shift gears if needed, and leave the kiddos with one parent while the other has some adult sight seeing time.
Live Like a Local…Rent an Apartment!
Traveling slow means that we prefer to rent a home or apartment instead of booking a hotel. “Living” for the week instead of just staying somewhere means that we are more immersed in local culture, cooking meals with produce from the local market.
We love having a space for the kiddos to sleep in another room, and overall the apartment gives us a more relaxed approach to our travels.
Travel with a small children is different. Sometimes it can be more difficult, but we wouldn’t trade traveling with our little ones for ANYTHING!
Get the Kids Excited About Trying Local Candy and Treats
We love getting the kids excited about trying new treats when we travel, and I am not above using them as an incentive for good behavior!
Make a point of picking up one new candy or treat each day. Let your kids know what the behavior expectations are to earn the treat, and everyone will have a happier trip!
Always Pick Accommodations Near a Park
This is my favorite, and possibly most important travel tip that I can pass on to you. Always pick an accomodation near a great park with a great playground.
Unless you are staying in a big resort type of hotel with recreational options onsite, you will appreciate having a nearby place to go to let the kids burn off steam.
The convenience of being able to send one parent to the park with the kids while the other makes dinner, or being able to let the kids run around when you have just arrived in Europe and it is night time, but everyone is still wide awake is priceless. Trust me.
In most destinations, there are hotels and rentals available in all price ranges and with a variety of good amenities are plentiful. This is an easy way to narrow down your field of choices and find a really family friendly place to stay!
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