There is something exhilarating about visiting a new country, island or museum and soaking up a different culture. One of the best experiences of my life was backpacking through Europe for 3 weeks after college graduation. I still can’t believe my parents actually let me go! Before we had kids I was determined to be that family who traveled together. I thought “how hard could it really be!?” I saw families taking their newborn babies to Africa on Instagram. They made it look easy. I was naive.
Now that we have children, the thought of going to the grocery store alone with two toddlers seems overwhelming. How could we possibly travel to another country with them and have it go smoothly!? If I’m being honest the thought of travel with kids scared me.
See I’m a planner. I love organizing things and being in control. When I had kids I quickly realized these two things don’t go together. My babies have shown me how inflexible I really am. But slowly I’m growing and learning to go with the flow. This is an essential part of travel with kids!
We tried our first family trip last May with a 2.5 year old and 8 month old. To say it went horribly is an understatement. I thought I had planned everything perfectly and we had a large hotel room with two rooms. One room for the parents and one for the kids. We slept about 2 hours total the first night and the kids were a mess. We decided to cut our vacation short and head home early.
So when we were invited to a destination wedding in Jamaica I was worried! I really wanted to go, but our son has a history of not sleeping (at all) in new places.
We decided to make the trip and we were both so happy we took this step of faith. We had a wonderful time and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!
How to Travel With Kids Like a Boss
First and foremost to travel with kids like a boss you need to plan! Before our trip, I previewed packing lists online and wrote out my own. I wanted to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. We packed the kid’s suitcase two days before we left so we had a few days to sit and think about what we forgot. Thinking through every part of the travel plan helped us prepare (drive to the airport, airport, plane, ride to hotel, etc.). Plan for everything!
Second, we let go of expectations. This is HUGE for me. I’m emotional and when things don’t go exactly how I planned or envisioned I’m disappointed. This can affect the mood of everyone so I tried my best to go with the flow and be flexible. We had to remove our one year old from a few dinners to save the peace, but you know what? It was fine and it all worked out.
Third, enjoy it! Soak it all in. I wish we could travel more often, but it’s not an every month thing for our family. We tried to take advantage of every minute we had and enjoy our beautiful surroundings.
Finally, travel with your parents. 😉 No, but seriously it helped so much to have extra hands on vacation. For whatever reason our kids are more easily distracted by grandparents and aunts & uncles. We were so grateful to have family help us when we needed a lifesaver! It was also adorable to see our son connect with my brother. He loved Uncle Alex.
How do you prepare for family vacations? What has traveling with kids taught you about yourself? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.