At the end of January I saw an article on Facebook about travel destinations you shouldn’t take kids. I didn’t think much of it because I agree that there are just some places you shouldn’t travel with kids. I would never think of taking my daughter to a popular spring break destination during spring break. Not because I’m opposed to spring breakers, but because it won’t be fun for her. Or us. And that charming B&B? Not for kids. Not because they’re hooligans or wild beasts, but because there likely isn’t anything there for them and their boredom is not good for them, their parents, the other guests, or the B&B staff.
Evidently, though, the article garnered a great deal of feedback. Many of the comments seemed to miss the point. Or so I thought. I didn’t see the article as telling me I should never vacation with a child. And even if it did, I would greatly disagree. See, BabyGirl has been traveling with us since she was a baby. What I never did, though, was assume that travel with her would be just like it had been when I was single or married without children. That’s the key. Kids change everything, we’ve heard it before. And, for the most part that change is pretty awesome.
However, when you travel with your kids (or in my case, just one child) you have to think very differently. You can’t expect to smoothly push a stroller around ancient cities with cobblestone streets, narrow passageways, and pre-historic sights. I wasn’t a stroller user, but when we travelled while BabyGirl was still in a car seat we have a car seat/stroller combo. It wasn’t always easy or convenient. But I knew this going in and I didn’t expect others to accommodate me when this was not their choice. Parents with kids, even tiny babies, know that there is a level of unpredictability that ranges from ‘I can handle that!’ to ‘Mary Poppins would quit on the spot’. If you expect to find world-class medical care within a mile of your second-world accommodations you’re delusional.
Travel with kids, like pretty much anything with kids, requires thoughtful consideration. Whether it’s a staycation or a trip across the globe, kids should be able to go and everyone still have a great time. It’s wrong to think parents of small kids should only have the option of not traveling or leaving their kids with someone else. Parents know their kids best. And while I do question the parenting choices of people who are pushing a stroller with a sleeping kid, or better yet a screaming kid, at 1am down the Las Vegas strip or from attraction to attraction at Disney, I wouldn’t say they shouldn’t vacation with their child. Make different choices, yes. Hunker down until their child is “old enough”? No.
Every family is different, and I think if you’re able to navigate the complexities of traveling with a child you should. What I don’t agree with when it comes to vacationing with children is that my vacation should suffer because of another family’s choice not to manage their children or expectations. Parents can’t take your new double-wide stroller on vacation during peak time and expect for others to be patient while they figure out how to get the over-size contraption onto a bus without taking out the kids because “they’re tired”. Parent’s can’t travel to a foreign country and expect to find their child’s favorite food and when they can’t expect others in the restaurant to be understanding of their screaming child.
Vacations should be fun for everyone. The people who work at our destinations should want to help us create a great experience. Others who meet up and interact with us shouldn’t feel like we’re ruining their vacation. Yes, things happen and plans go awry. Luggage isn’t delivered, hotel descriptions are not accurate, travel guides aren’t forthcoming. But things go wrong all time. I’ve changed hotels with my daughter because the walls were paper-thin and just because babies get hungry and cry and I have to be up at 2am to feed her doesn’t mean everyone else in the hotel does too. For me, waking up several times at night to feed an infant is normal. My normal, though, may not be your normal.
Now that BabyGirl is almost a teen (my how time flies!), there seems to be a consensus that there are no limits to traveling with her. That’s not the case either. There are plenty of places I don’t think are appropriate for her to visit. Traveling with kids provide them with wonderful and amazing opportunities. But, becoming a parent is not a prison sentence requiring to stay within the confines of your home until your kids are “old enough”.
What are your thoughts on traveling with kids?