Ever since forever that I can remember- I have this bohemian dream of living like a gypsy hippy chick. Free spirited, tanned, traveling, looking fabulously healthy, toned and fashionable. Living carefree without a real plan. Just floating happily along.
Except that I am a neurotic, Type A planner and control freak who is prone to anxiety. Someone who likes their routine and hates camping. A person who wants to write their own map and resists asking for or accepting help or handouts.
To say that my dream persona and my true self do not match up is an understatement. One that I have finally come to accept. That hippy girl- she only exists in my dreams. She is an unattainable fantasy person that I created. An impossible goal. Nowadays, I don’t even want to be her. I am happy with who I am and the journey that I am on.
But one thing I have actualized from my fantasy bohemian life is traveling. And I have been fortunate enough to travel with my most favorite humans. Mr. Reinvention and Baby Reinvention.
Initially, Mr. Reinvention was not on board with Baby traveling internationally while young. He thought it would be difficult. He felt the experience would be lost on her as she wouldn’t retain memories of our travels.
But I felt strongly that this was an area I would not compromise on. I wanted to share travel as a family. I wanted to share places with her, selfishly, because I love her unabashed joy and enthusiasm for life. I did not care if she remembered the experiences or not. I felt it would facilitate her flexibility and appreciation for the life we live. I felt it travel would broaden her perspective of our world.
Eventually, I wore Mr. Reinvention down. We’ve traveled fairly consistently since our daughter was 4 years old. We all LOVE to travel together. And I wasn’t wrong. Baby Reinvention brings a whole unique layer and perspective to our travels. We are better as individuals and as a family from what each destination exposes to us.
If you are contemplating traveling with your littles I wholeheartedly advise going for it. However, the days of packing light are gone. Here are some basic techniques and tips I found helpful for our travels to be a success.
- Success does not mean absence of meltdowns, tantrums, injuries, illness or just a general shit day. It means we are all alive and we all still love each other. Even if I almost left them at the The Hofburg in Vienna. Make sure your expectations of all humans in the travel party are reasonable! Including yourself!
- This may seem like “Duh” but check laundry accommodations. We once spent an insane amount on laundry service on a cruise because I incorrectly assumed the cruise line had coin operated washer/dryer like another cruise line. When you have a “Duh” moment like this refer back to tip number 1.
- Mix all travelers’ clothing in each suitcase. That way if a bag gets lost everyone still has clothing to get by and your time is not spent underwear shopping rather than sightseeing.
- I just recently discovered packing cubes and I think they are amazing at keeping things organized and easy to find.
- Pack a medicine kit full of the items you know and have used before. Inevitably, someone will become ill or hurt. Having what you need and are familiar with will streamline the process of getting well without the stress of unfamiliar products, dosage, ingredients and language barriers.
- Understand that with kids you will move slower. Plan for that and savor the pace. Explore and enjoy at a pace reasonable for everyone. Quality over quantity. Wherever we go we always hit a local park and let Baby hang out on the playground. It allows her to be a kid and connect with her peers.
- Modify your rigidity to a healthy balanced diet. On vacation we tend to go a little nuts exploring the regional foods. That may look very different from our daily eating habits back home. And so what! Let it go for that time period. Have the gelato twice a day. If your child is a picky eater then let them eat whatever they will eat, rather than force them to try things.
- Research your activities and make sure they are kid appropriate. I decided not to take Baby to “The Bone Church” outside of Prague because of her age. However, I did accidentally drag her partial way into the Labyrinth of Buda Castle, Budapest. She still tells anyone who will listen how scary it was in “Dracula’s Prison”. Mom fail!
- We always pack a few small comfort items from home and a soft blanket for the plane for Baby Reinvention. I allow her to pack her carry-on bag with whatever small toys and art supplies she wants to bring along. As she gotten older she has also included a travel journal that she writes or draws in on our adventures.
- Every time we travel we review with Baby Reinvention our contact information and what she is to do if she happens to get lost or separated from one of us. We also look over and make sure we know the emergency numbers and processes.
- Check neighborhoods and safety concerns of the areas you are venturing into. Be aware always!
- Prior to our departure we study and learn about our destination. Baby Reinvention has input into what we will do and see on our trip.
- Take lots of photos! Mr. Reinvention is excellent about taking photos. And though at times I am annoyed I am always grateful afterward. When we settle in back home after a trip we create a photo book of our adventure. It gives us the opportunity to reminisce as a family.
- Enjoy the journey and being together! Relish the time together! We have had some of the best times together while traveling.
What are your thoughts on traveling with kids?