Traveling With Kids
Is traveling something you plan to do throughout your whole life? Is it something that with every changing season of your life you want to continue to do, and not be limited to where you can drive? If you answered yes to all of these then you are much like my husband and I.
Traveling for us is a high priority and something we really value as a part of our life. We have always enjoyed traveling and agreed early one that once we had children we wanted travel to feel like second nature to them. That whether we traveled in the states or over seas that it would be a normal part of their lives.
Now just because this is what we want, it doesn't mean it is without it's challenges because let's face it things change when you have kids. The way you do things change as well as priorities, but thats okay! We just changed the way we traveled a little bit and Aila also learned how to adjust along the way. Now at 3 1/2 years old she is a champion traveler and begs to fly on airplanes.
So what did we do and what did we change....
Well first we started her young because half the battle is YOU getting used to traveling with a child and when they are babies it's pretty simple because they just sit in your lap the whole time and aren't begging to get out of their seat and walk all over the plane. I remember the first time I flew with Aila, she was 3 months old and I have to admit I was intimidated because I had never done it before and I was going by myself. But with every flight I became more confident in my ability to fly with her which made it easier and a lot less scary. I also learned very quickly what to bring and not bring because as a new mom sometimes you pack everything but the kitchen sink.
Now some of this is child specific because some babies do better than others with certain things. For example when Aila was a wee babe she didn't love being in a carrier so I would bring a stroller which was great in airports because I would attach my carry on bag to it and be hands free. However as soon as she let me start using the carrier I stopped traveling with a stroller because honestly they are a lot to tote around all the time where as a carrier fits easily in your suitcase and maneuvering all your bags, a stroller, carseats, etc takes mad skills! I have totally been there... the mom who is traveling by herself, pushing a stroller, pulling a large suitcase and balancing a car seat. Most of the time people just stare are you, I think they are in shock and don't know what to say, let a lone even think to offer assistance.
I have learned that most of the things you think you need when traveling with your child you don't actually need and don't end up using. When we traveled to Budapest we decided not to bring our stroller and just get a small umbrella stroller while there, but when we flew home we checked it on the plane and didn't even bother using it through the airports because traveling light and having our hands free has always seemed easier to us.
As she has gotten older we have had to be more intentional about what we bring to entertain her on airplanes. There are so many little things that you can bring that are travel friendly. We are a huge fan of coloring books, blank paper and colored pencils because they are easy to pack and not very messy. Something fun for little kids as well are post-it notes because they serve a duel purpose of something they can color on as well as stick all over the seat in front of them without the residue that stickers leave behind. Also window clings are very entertaining because they can "decorate" their window.
We typically have Aila in a pretty normal routine when at home, but that is another thing we change when we travel. We usually just make our peace with it before we leave that her routine is going to be thrown off and we just work with it. There is always so much that you want to do when you travel so rather than trying to work around nap and bedtimes we just make sure to carve out times throughout each day that is specifically catered to her, something we know she will enjoy. For example Budapest has some really cool playgrounds for kids throughout the entire city so each afternoon when we noticed she was starting to get restless we would take her to the playground and let it be her time. She also really loved the changing of the guard at the Parliament building so we would let her go watch it every evening. These little things made all the difference for us because Aila didn't feel like she was just getting lugged around doing only what mommy and daddy wanted to do but that we were all taking turns.
So while I cannot sleep on airplanes anymore, I still get to enjoy pretty much everything else I love about traveling. We still see all the sights with just a few pit stops though out the day at a playground or to revisit a spot that Aila really loved. I still get to enjoy the yummy food and I actually feel like I experience the culture more traveling with my kid because we move slower and do things that typically locals would do rather than tourists. I just love how each season of life allows you to discover new ways of enjoying life! Traveling with kids can be fun, trust me!