“You can’t go vagabonding with kids! Just a two week vacation with the little ones is hard enough.”
If you’re a parent, you’ve probably heard these words. You may have even said them.
Conventional wisdom seems to say that doing anything with kids is hard work. Going to the grocery store, sending a package from the post office. It’s a miracle if we survive driving fifty miles to Grandma’s house, let alone climbing on to an airplane to travel to the other side of the country.
A quick check around the internet will tell you that travel with kids is hard work. Maybe going somewhere that offers an all inclusive meal plan plus kids club so that you get a break from the 24/7 job of being a parent is a good idea.
But long term travel? Vagabonding with kids? No way. Uh uh. Not possible.
Or is it?
CNNGo published an article a while ago with some tips for traveling with children. Let’s examine their advice.
According to CNNGo, parents will need to pack their child’s “favorite stuffed giraffe that takes up a third of the suitcase” as well as “an entire library of Dr Seuss and Eric Carle books, not to mention the space-consuming nappies, wet wipes and milk bottles.”
OK, if your child is young, the nappies and wet wipes are essential, but the enormous stuffed giraffe and a whole bunch of books? What happened to common sense?
Contrary to popular belief, kids will survive without the stuffed giraffe. They’ll be just fine with cardboard boxes, pinecones, and sticks. Pack a tiny toy or two for good measure, but your children’s stuff doesn’t have to overwhelm the suitcase.
In fact, kids don’t need much at all. Pack a couple of pairs of clothes, a few toys, and you’re good to go.
They’re right on here. Our children had a very difficult time with jet lag and couldn’t understand why they weren’t sleeping in the middle of the night.
Of course, when you’re traveling long term, you won’t be taking all that many long-haul flights. Travel slowly and you won’t need to deal with jet lag very often.
CNNGo was downright wrong on this one.
They said, “Unless your kid has an abnormally educated palate, hold off on that culinary tour of India. Do not attempt to travel to a place where there isn’t kid-friendly food.”
What?! That’s downright crazy.
“This seemingly small detail is essential for a successful holiday with young children. French fries, nuggets, pizza and the like will save your holiday.”
I say take that culinary tour of India specifically so your child can learn to develop that abnormally educated palate! Kids learn to like what they grow up with, so pampering them with Micky D’s when they’re in Paris and Tokyo and New York means depriving your child of a wonderful opportunity to learn about the cultures they are traveling in.
Remember there are kids living wherever you’ll travel, and those kids need to eat something. Your child won’t let himself starve.
This is where I have to say, “What were you thinking CNNGo?”
“If you wonder why parents of young kids travel with five pieces of luggage, it’s because three of those five bulging bags are filled with toys, books, games and gadgets lest junior gets bored for more than a second and all hell breaks loose.”
If all hell breaks loose when junior gets bored for more than a second, then you’ve done a piss poor job of raising your child in the first place. Don’t blame it on the travel.
They got it right here: “Your exotic destination is likely to be non-stroller friendly so your buggy sits folded up in your hotel room for most of the trip.”
But terribly wrong here: “So you end up only going as far as your young child can walk (to the nearest restaurant that serves French fries and back); or as far as you can carry them in your strap-on carrier (yes the Wat-of-500-steep-steps is too much); or you spend most of your holiday by the hotel’s baby pool.”