An article published last summer about traveling with children from CNN Go was recently brought to my attention. Based on the title – 5 rules of traveling with kids – I assumed I’d get some helpful tips. Instead of rules or tips, however, I got several reasons why traveling with children is terribly inconvenient and should be prevented with children younger than six. As someone who has traveled extensively with my children from the time they were infants, I find most of the advice utterly ridiculous. While it’s true that travel is a bit easier now that my children are 7 and 10 years old and can carry their own weight – or at the very least, pull their own suitcase – I’ve always found travel doable with children, even when they where much younger. It just required some tweaks and adjustments.
Here are some of the adjustments I make when traveling with children.
The younger the child, the bigger the suitcase
In my experience the suitcase is smaller the younger the child. In fact, I could, and still can pack both girls in one small(ish) suitcase. When they were still wearing diapers, I distributed them between everyone’s bags and was secure in the knowledge that if I ran out, I could buy more at my destination.
The younger the child, the harder it is to get over jet lag
I’ll agree with the author on this point. The solution to this is to just expect that there will be some 3am showings of Dora the Explorer, and be sure to schedule some naptime during the first few days – for the kids and yourself.
Travel to a destination that serves French Fries
I’ll admit, I usually scoop out a pizzeria wherever we go, because sometimes, after being away from home and experiencing a different environment for several days, fries, pizza, chicken nuggets might mean the difference between a meltdown and the ability to go and see that one last monument. That being said, when we travel, I also encourage my children to try different foods. As a result, they have become conneisuers of French cheeses (the stinkier, the better), discerners of good olive oil, and lovers of Middle Eastern cuisine such as falalfel and hummus. The whole point of travel is to experience new things, and food is probably the best place to start.
You can’t have too much inflight entertainment for young children
This is another point where the author gets it right. My children always travel with a backpack filled with books, writing materials and electronics to keep them entertained while traveling. I make sure that there is something new in their backpacks, usually the latest issue of some magazine that they like or an activity book, which usually keeps them enthralled for a couple of hours of travel.
Strollers are as much a bane as a boon
Strollers were the best thing ever when traveling with babies. Not the big SUV-like strollers with the giant wheels that take up the whole of the car trunk, but an easy to manage umbrella stroller that you can push to the gate, that folds down nice and slim and can be gate checked. I found that once at our destination, not only was the stroller great for, you know, strolling, but it also gave us the occasional opportunity to enjoy a quiet meal or drink in a café, gave us a little longer to visit a museum, or the chance to go into a shop while the child sat or slept peacefully in it.
On the other hand, I did dance a jig when my children where old enough to travel without it. Again, that meant tweaking and adjusting our travel plans – back to the hotel mid-day for naps, no more lingering in museums – but it hasn’t stopped them.
Several family travel bloggers were also less than impressed with the advice given in the article. Here are some of the other responses:
See more of my family travel tips HERE
What rules of traveling with kids do you ignore?