Travelling with young kids. Not only it's possible, but it can also be fun!
Updated: Feb 19, 2020
This post is not going to solve your packing dilemma, tell you what to take with you for a long haul flight or give you the '30 best tips for travelling with an active toddler'. So many people have already written about this, just pick your style.
What I want to do here, is to convince you to go for it. Embrace the experience, relax and enjoy. Yes, it will mess with the routine, the schedule and the usual dynamic. But also, yay! it will mess with routine, the schedule and the usual dynamic.
We have been relying on the holy grail that is the routine since my kids were born. It allows us to have free time, to know there is an end to a sometimes miserable day, to know you will be able to go to the bathroom or sit down in peace. But that is the day to day life.
So when we decided to travel for 6 weeks with a 2-year-old and a 6-week-old baby; one of the fears was the loss of the routine and therefore the loss of control.
We flew to Singapore in December 2018. After a few days battling jet lag and questioning why we actually left home, we got into the rhythm. We desperately tried to replicate the daily schedule we would have at home. Breakfast, fun activity, lunch, nap, fun activity, snack, quiet time, arsenic hour, dinner, bath, bed - REPEAT.
The problem is, you actually spend more time faffing and thinking about the next step, than doing anything (forget about enjoying).
So after an unsuccessful couple of days, my husband and I decided to take back the power, and actually have fun. Our fun, not only playground and swimming pool fun, but food courts, temples, culture, museums,... After all, it's our trip too.
We wanted to have lunch in a dim sum restaurant we absolutely love. So yeah, we did it. We took the toddler to a loud, busy place, at nap time (suicidal). And you know what, it all went amazingly well. He ate what we did, tried new things and behaved like a reasonable human being. But most importantly, we all enjoyed ourselves.
So from then on, we decided to relax with the routine and ensure that everyone would get to do something they really like, every day. Yes, we would visit a playground and watch our kid play carelessly whilst making new friends. But only if we got to walk around a busy dirty market, trying strange food and browsing spice stalls. DEAL.
It worked. They might not nap at the right time for a few days. But they will sleep at some point and they won't starve themselves.
Once we passed that step, we also discovered that kids are a great asset when travelling, especially in very different cultures.
How many people stopped us in the street to ask about our kids, say hello and start a conversation. The owner of the B&B in Chiangmai took our kid to see fish every morning.
Waitresses would fight to cuddle the baby to allow us to eat in peace.
Kids are a great ice-breaker and will get any conversation started on a bus or at a locals restaurant.
Finally, you cannot underestimate the power of travel for children. They learn a lot, it triggers their curiosity and opens their mind (more on that in another post).
Go on, book that trip, go on that adventure and have fun!