It’s about this time of year many of us start planning a break away to sunnier shores. With those thoughts come the questions surrounding where to go, what to see, and how to travel with young ones.
Add to that the most common question asked by many parents… is it even possible to have a happy family holiday with toddlers in tow?
This concern can lead to many families opting for a pretty conservative break – a resort with a kids club – and if that’s genuinely your happy place then all power to you, read no further.
However, I’ve always struggled to sit beside a pool for more than a few hours without boredom setting in, so the thought of doing that for a week or more surrounded by hundreds of other families feels like the antithesis of a holiday for me.
The Pursuit of Family Holiday Happiness
If you’re on a similar wavelength and crave a more interactive holiday, then having kids in tow is far from a barrier; it’s quite the opposite.
They provide the perfect motive to get out and about and really see a country properly.
The Pursuit of Innocence
Children have an amazing capacity to soak everything up, to see richness even in the poorest of conditions and to bridge both language and socio-economic divides.
There is a sense of understanding, of innocence and of acceptance – things that we tend to lose along the way to adulthood – and it is refreshing to see it first hand in our children and be motivated to reach out and find those qualities within ourselves again.
The Pursuit of Mindfulness
Best of all, travelling with young kids makes you slow down and really take in the whole experience.
Jumping out of the car at every scenic viewpoint and snapping a quick selfie just doesn’t cut it when you have children in tow. They want to build that giant sand castle on the beach, pick those wild flowers on the hillside and join in with the football game being played by the local kids in the park.
This makes you stop too, adding in a deeper appreciation of your surroundings along with facilitating more genuine interactions with other travellers and local people.
Sure, there will be some days that are harder than others when your kid is tired (or just plain grumpy!) but in reality you get those days at home too.
You will find, however, that if plan your days well, making sure you have enough down time for your child to just be a kid and kick a ball, have an afternoon nap in a proper bed or play with some toys, then you can minimise the tears and have a happier time travelling as a family.
The Pursuit of Hunger
And never underestimate the power of food – ‘hangry’ kids are never nice to be around!
As adults, we tend to push ourselves and keep going even when we’re running on empty. However, kids are not as resilient as we are and when we travel, our daily schedule tends to be a lot looser than at home.
It is therefore important to make sure that regardless of what your day holds, you plan to sit down and eat regular meals.
It’s also a good idea to have plenty of snacks for in between times – you never know when that train is going to be delayed or the traffic stops you from getting to your destination as scheduled.
Overall, you will find that travelling with young children not only changes the local’s perspective about you as tourists in their country, providing opportunities for interaction not found when travelling solo, but will also change the way you see the place you are visiting.
It’s not always easy, but can’t the same be said for any part of parenting?
The pay back is an intensely rewarding experience that will grow strong family bonds and provide memories that will last a lifetime.
Happy holidaying! For more expert family holiday advice, check out our Grown Ups: Family travel section.