Travelling with kids is not as difficult or inaccessible as you might think, and it holds a wealth of experiences to learn and grow from in a multitude of ways.
I’ve been surprised over and over again by the comments I’ve heard from others – those with families and without – about how you need to get your travelling in before succumbing to the “boring responsibilities” of family life. However, speaking from experience, life’s adventures need not stop when children become part of the picture.
I don’t want to place travelling up on a pedestal, trying to make you feel like you’re not living life to the fullest without it. Life is full of choices and different paths of adventures.
Travel is not the be all and end all of the experiences that all children and humans, in general, should be attaining at all costs. Please don’t take that impression.
The Benefits Of Travelling With Kids
Travelling can be costly and take an effort to plan out your getaway when responsibilities tie you closer to home. I get that.
It is, however, the exact offering of experiences that call to myself and my husband to seek out, and so, for us, we place a high value on travel in our personal lives. In fact, the decision to raise only one child was made with our travel desires as a serious consideration.
Every year my husband and I try to make a getaway and discover somewhere new. Stepping out of your life and into a new culture, with new sights to see, new social situations to negotiate, new transits and destinations to explore, it opens you up.
It can be stressful, but it can also be an eye-opening experience. Both to discovering new ways of life, and to making realizations about who you are and where you come from, and becoming aware of what holds you back and how to let go of your inhibitions and negative habits of mind to make the most of a new experience.
It also helps you learn how to communicate and solve problems with your travel companions, which can be an incredibly useful skill to have as a family.
Tips For Embracing Family Travel
Travelling With Kids Tip #1: Relax
Yes, adding a human whose needs are more and different from yours can be overwhelming and anxiety-inducing. Where will they sleep? When will they sleep? Will there be food they can eat? Will it be too hot or too cold? Will it be safe? What do we need to bring for them? How will we possibly cart around all the things we need?
Adapt your mindset to go with the flow
There will be new considerations to figure out, but the best possible piece of advice I could give you is to let it go. Just relax. Your schedule might be adjusted. You may have more to pack. You may have to leave behind some things you feel are essential for your comfort and consistency.
Trust me, while consistency is important for children, it’s also vitally important that they learn flexibility, too. Life is full of changes.
Don’t be afraid to help them learn how to go with the flow. By taking a deep breath and allowing yourself to relax, chances are your vibe will spill over and the other members of your entourage will benefit from your “Que sera, sera” energy.
Travelling With Kids Tip #2: Plan Ahead
There are a lot of ways to minimize your stresses and allow yourself more room to relax. Think ahead to airplane rides and dinners out, and pack some travel toys and activities that will help to keep the little ones engaged.
Keep important items accessible in your carry-on
Make sure to pack any medicines or items you may all of a sudden need quickly in your carry-on luggage. You never know when you might be stuck for an extra day or week without your checked baggage, and having those items available while in transit may just save the day.
You can also plan to bring a few items of familiar, nutritious food (those squishy packs of pureed food can be packed with greens, protein, and vitamins) so you can feel more confident about keeping your little one fed up with healthy food on the go.
Travelling With Kids Tip #3: Be Flexible, but Mindful
Make the most of your trip, but be mindful about keeping some family standards close to what you expect at home. When traveling in another country, or even another province, you may not have access to foods and products you consume at home.
Balance flexibility with fun
While taking a relaxed approach and letting vacation mode set in, including special treats, keep in mind the powerful effect that increased sugars, less sleep, and other factors can have on children.
Try to make mindful choices about what to be flexible with, and when to be more conservative about all this flexibility.
Carefully choosing when is a good time to fill your little with extra energy and when to say “not now” will help your child keep better control of their behaviour when it’s most needed. (For instance, the start of an airplane ride may not be the time to pull out the chocolate bars and juice.)
Travelling With Kids Tip #4: Stay Safe
You never know what can happen at any given moment, and even less so when you’re far away from your element. Before you leave the home turf, make sure you protect yourself from possible dangers.
Always buy travelers' insurance
We always, always, always make sure to buy travelers’ insurance before we head out on an adventure, even for a week across the border. It’s always a safer bet to pay for something you may not need and enjoy your trip than to think you’re saving money and end up with thousands (or even millions) of dollars in medical bills or other unforeseen circumstances.
You can get a range of free quotes from different companies through InsuranceHotline.com. I checked it out and for the three of us to be insured while on our next adventure to Costa Rica this fall, I found a great quote that protects the three of us up to $5 million for just under $60.
We’ll look into this further when we’re ready to sit down and focus on our plan for the journey.
Make an appointment at a travel clinic
One other thing to make sure you take care of before you depart is to make an appointment at your local travel clinic.
A typical appointment will include discussing your intended travel itinerary, after which the staff will check out your destinations in their computer database and let you know of the dangers you may encounter, such as diseases and illnesses, and what your options for preventing mishaps are.
In many cases, there may be suggested preventative vaccines or boosters, oral medications to take before or during your trip, or other medications to bring with you just in case you suffer from traveler’s diarrhea or dehydration.
They may also give you advice on how to keep your family members safe from mosquito-born illnesses, with instructions about what bug deterrents work well for different ages, and how to use them safely.
You can find your closest travel clinic in Canada here.
Raising a child is not a reason to pack in the passports. If anything, it’s one heck of a good reason to get up and go together, sharing all the growth and benefits that travel has to offer with your children.
Wish us well on our next family travel adventure in Costa Rica! Bon voyage, friends!