Have Kids. Still Travel. — Why not?
Travel and flying have been a part of my family and my life for as long as I can remember. I’m pretty sure it all began with my parents who were involved in flying as well as the aviation and airline industries. As I look back, I also notice that many of my defining life experiences are somehow linked to travel (I still get pridefully, yet awkwardly teary-eyed every time I recall my first time flying overseas and landing at Gatwick Airport in London).
My husband shares in this wanderlust, so we traveled some after getting married. Then, we decided to have kids, and it never even occurred to us to wait before seeing more of the world, Dozens of adventures later, I promise you that traveling as a family with small children can, and should, in my opinion, be done! I mean, let’s be serious, if we’re already going to be baby-barfed on, whined at, and ignored by small humans anyhow, why not have it happen on a beach in Aruba, at a cafe in Paris, or while walking along the Navy Pier in Chicago?
We call our travels, “adventures” because somehow, with all of the ups, downs, and problem-solving that goes on, that’s exactly what they feel like sometimes, but it’s not as bad as it sounds. I know. I know. As a parent, the idea of leaving the house, let alone the state or country, with small children (in my case, two children under the age of nine) can seem like an adventure in itself, as well as a daunting test of one’s patience and sanity. So, why would we ever want to take that show on the road (or the plane) to foreign lands?
Well, it’s not like we go rafting down the Congo River, visit remote villages, or even go to countries where one’s gastrointestinal health could become, shall we say, “grossly unbalanced” (though I commend and am eternally impressed by any parents who can and do). I think the key, for us, is that we travel for ourselves as much as for our kids. We want to expose ourselves to new places, new cultures, new languages, and new foods, and we want to do the same for our children.
The Basics of Where, When & How
Since starting our family, we’ve traveled to well over a dozen U.S. cities, including San Francisco, Santa Fe, Dallas, Denver and Orlando, as well as a handful of cities in foreign countries like Frankfurt (Germany), Amsterdam (Netherlands), and Sydney (Australia). We go when we have the time and money, usually during the off- or shoulder-season to avoid crowds and save a bit as well, and unless we’re driving, we try to choose destinations that have safe and convenient public transportation (so, no need for car seats and boosters).
Now, over the years (over eight, to be exact), we’ve established, honed, and polished our family travel style, but that doesn’t mean we’ve got it down to a science. We’re always a work in progress, so in an effort to simplify and improve, we’re always trying new things when we travel. Are we experts? Absolutely not. (At least not, yet. We’re just “experts-in-training,” I suppose.) Do some folks do it better? Probably. But, we have learned from each adventure, and as this blog would indicate, we are more than happy to share our mistakes, our findings, and what does and doesn’t work for us.