How to travel with kids

Travelling with Children in 2021

To some people, the phrase “traveling with children” is like profane. Either you don’t have kids and you’ve been stuck on a plane next to a crying baby, or equally as terrible, you’ve been the parent with the crying baby. It’s hard enough to get to the grocery store most days with your kids in tow, let alone travel somewhere.

So, why do people do it? Do they have perfectly angelic children who never eat, poop, pee or cry? Some people travel to see family, so that turns into a must, but the reason my wife and I travel is because we love exploration and adventure, and we want to pass that love down to our children.

I strongly believe that your kids are born into your world, not the other way around. Should you stop doing the things you love just because it will be hard at times? No. So, here’s what it’s like from my perspective, as well as a few tricks I’ve learned along the way.

Travelling with kids
Travelling with kids

The very first thing I noticed about flying with a kid is that everything is going to take longer, especially getting through security. Our first plane ride with our firstborn, Corbin, happened when he was only a few months old. That meant we needed the stroller, his car seat, and a diaper bag full of things that security has to go through, which includes testing the breast milk. Yeah, they seriously test the breast milk.

Our stroller is pretty large, so it’s easier to have the TSA agents just take it off to the side where they do that swipe thing. Only one guy has made me take the stroller completely a part and send it through the xray, and I still have a few choice words for that guy. I’ve had my diaper bag taken and searched almost every time I’ve flown. Plan for extra time. Every time.

The other thing that’s completely different about traveling with kids is the packing. Whether you’re packing for a car trip, a vacation or an hour car ride to the mountains, you better start hours before you normally would.

This seems like common sense, but after you find yourself cursing and throwing random stuff in the car at the last minute, you’ll think to yourself, “Why didn’t I start this last night.” Guaranteed.  This happens more with the first child because you don’t know any better, so you feel the need to bring the entire nursery.

Travelling with kids

Another tip is to give yourself grace when you’re on the “getting there” part of the trip. Almost every time we travel, there’s a moment when I look at my wife and say, “Why do we do this?” Then, when we get to our destination or we’re all laughing and splashing together on an amazing beach, I always say, “Oh yeah. This is why.”

Also, remember that perfection is a myth. Not once have we ever taken our kids somewhere and had everything go perfectly. Someone either has a blowout diaper or spills their milk or worse. On the way to New Zealand, my baby girl got diarrhea and we went through every diaper and every pair of clothes we brought on the plane. Sounds like fun, right? Well, that 3-week trip was one of the best trips of our lives.

Now that I’ve talked about getting there, let’s talk about what it’s like when you are there. Before kids, my wife and I could go straight to some remote beach and snorkel together for hours. Now, we have to go to beaches that are easier to get to, and we have to take turns snorkeling.

The thing to remember is that, while it’s different, it’s still fun. Embracing the differences and focusing on the positives are good things to keep in mind.

I’ve also noticed that the romance on a nice vacation is different as well. Instead of every night being a candle lit dinner on the beach, it’s finding a babysitter for a night out just like back home.

We do at least one night out for just the two of us on our vacations. Out on an island, the locals will know how bad you want the night out and that you’re likely able to afford a good rate for a babysitter. Make sure to budget for that.

About three years ago, my and family and I went on a dream vacation to Australia. We started in north Queensland in a town called Crains and worked our way slowly down the coast. We were in a new place every week.

Back then, it was just my wife and I and our 2 sons. My wife was working remotely, and with the time difference, she worked at night, which meant we had plenty of time during the day to play. We were there for so long that both my mom and my mother in law come to visit. It was such a magical time in our lives that my wife and I want to do it again. This time, to New Zealand.

Our plan is to sell our house, get rid of 90% of our stuff, and move abroad. After that Australia trip, we moved into a house that we thought would be our forever home, a big house in a suburb of Denver tucked nicely into the foothills. We have a beautiful view of the mountains and plenty of open space to run around, but it didn’t take long after we moved in for us to realize that we didn’t love it as much as we thought we would.

Our desire to travel and explore more of the world is too great. This time, instead of moving to a different spot every week, we are going to establish a home base and do weekend or week-long trips around the country.

We want to have a home base because our two boys are old enough to be in school. While we’re willing to consider home school at some point in the future, we’re not there quite yet. After our visa for New Zealand is up, we’ve talked about hopping over to Australia again for a year or so. If we still love what we’re doing, then we’ll just keep country hopping until we feel like it’s time to come home.

Ever since we made this plan, we’ve met several families who have done or are doing something similar. Social media is full of families who travel all over the world. They definitely inspire us, and I hope that someday we can inspire other families in the same way.

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