Traveling with kids is challenging, everyone knows that. And everyone feels compelled to tell you that, the moment you announce the happy news of expecting a baby. You know, the standard sentence “forget travelling until they are in college”. Or “now that you have kids you won’t be able to travel as you did before”. And so it goes. I allow myself to respectfully disagree. I think traveling with kids of all ages is simply great and incredibly rewarding. And I’m not talking about traveling to the so-called “child-friendly” places or staying in a resort- nothing wrong with that, but these are really not the only choices when you have kids. You can travel around the world. You can backpack your way through Asia. Mind you, I’m not saying it’s easy. It can (and at times- will) be hard. Yes, you are essentially on call 24/7. Yes, your eyes have to contradict the laws of biology and millions of years of evolution and spin around your head. Yes, you have to be extra resourceful and predict situations (yup, you will never look at that big, deep swimming pool with the same eyes). You most likely will not be able to party until the wee hours of the morning. But you know what? It is like that with everything in life – the most valuable things are hard earned and yet we wouldn’t trade them for anything.
So why do it?
Try to recall the first time you held a camera in your hands. You looked at everything from a different angle. You stopped and looked again, took another shot, tried with different settings or another perspective. Suddenly the world became full of interesting details and everything seemed to be a subject just waiting to be photographed. It’s the same when you travel with little people in tow. You slow down and notice things. You are no longer able to just rush from one location to another. Because they are kids they involuntarily force you to take time, savor the place, notice that man on a bicycle/ people eating/ bug/ dog/ winding staircase/. You are ON all the time, in the moment, practicing mindfulness like the greatest Zen masters. Your kids are the best guarantee there is that you won’t sleepwalk through your trip. They add magic to a simple train trip. All you have to do is listen to them.
It’s not only that. With kids in your travel party you are no longer just another bunch of tourists for the locals. Kids open the doors closed to others. All of the sudden you are let in, to places where other travellers won’t be. Kids are the great unifying factor. Almost everyone you meet on the road will want to talk to you about their kids, nephews, invite you for tea, play with your kids.
It really is magic. So take the map of the world now and plan your next trip. Dream big.