You love to travel, but you dread the thought of travelling with kids. What to do?
Over the last decade or two, travel blogging has become a necessary support system for tourism industries the world over. However, only a small percentage of these specialize in family travel.
Influencers and social media specialists make themselves available at the highest bidder to tour operators. They generate unrealistic visual content that jump off the screen and inspire folks to book tickets right away. Unfortunately, bachelors, student travellers and retirees make up their target audience.
Think about it. You are a hardened adventurer. The kind destination shows do features on. You can hike Everest with a backpack equalling your body weight, erect a tent in 30 seconds, fashion a splint out of twigs when breaking a leg, and resuscitate yourself if given the opportunity to do so.
However, the thought of travelling with kids bring about a queasy feeling in your gut, followed by a cold sweat and a series of shivers shooting up your spine. As capable as you are, you know that family travelling is fundamentally more complex than solo or couple travelling. Instead you endeavour to find other activities for the holidays.
Why are parents scared of travelling with kids?
There is something about travelling with kids that makes parents panicky. Even those veteran power-couple parents, whose kids look like disciplined cherubs, are reluctant to boldly set off on a family vacation.
It’s so much more than just the planning, the packing, visas applications and the travel arrangements. Deep down, you sense chaos looming. You think your kids will break everything in sight, or get lost, or walk right into a warzone. After all, these are your kids. You know what they’re capable of! They are monsters, right?
You will have to learn to change a nappy under duress, more so than doing it on the car’s backseat during a rugby match. Changing a nappy at a bus terminal in a foreign country while the driver is hurrying you on, is a new experience. Or imagine doing it while in the embarkation queue for the cruise liner.
With kids, if there’s something that can go wrong, it probably will. You can plan for the inevitable, but it’s the unimaginable that takes the wind out of your sails. Boarding delays, an unexpected viral infection, missing children, severe lack of sleep or a sudden sugar high, can seriously put you to task.
At some point you are either stuck on a plane, a train, a ship, a bus or in a car, where every minute feels like an hour. Or you find yourself in scary open spaces, like the top of a mountain. Or running across an airport terminal in pursuit of a toddler who refuses to take her dress off.
When friends without kids ask us what’s the worst that could happen, it almost sounds like a challenge.
Is the reward worth the effort?
We love to travel and have a saying, ‘See new places, meet new doctors’. We are adamant about exposing our children to a lifestyle of occasional travel. I decided to engage with fellow family travellers and asked them why they travel with their kiddies. Let’s hear what the experienced travellers say.
“Travelling helps kids understand that there is more to life than their bubble. There are different types of people, different lands, different foods, and different ways to do things. The goal is to open their eyes and be more accepting of others while learning about the places we visit.” Margie – DQ Family Travel
“It opens their eyes to the wonders of the world, new experiences and adventures with the added bonus of making lifelong memories together.” Julie Yates
“We get to share our passion with them, expose them to different cultures, have them ask a billion questions, and mostly have some quality time with them when we marvel at something new.” Mike & Jemma – HaveKidsWillTravelUK
“There is nothing like seeing the world through your child’s eyes to make a parent smile. The awe they bring to simple things reminds us of the great journey we are on and get to share as a family.” David – DadLifeLessons
“When kids have the opportunity to travel, they have another data point that they can use to make sense of the world around them.” Elizabeth – Elizabeth Treks
“Travel helps my kids internalise that there are many ways to live. They often take for granted that others may speak, eat, sleep, play, work, and travel differently than we do.” Catherine – To and Fro Fam
James Fouche is an author, travel writer, entrepreneur and silly daddy of three. He also writes about parenting and wine, whenever his kids allow him to.