Busted!—7 Lame Excuses for Not Traveling With Your Kids
With a little bit of creativity, flexibility, and planning, travel with kids can be a rewarding adventure for the whole family.
It will disrupt our routine
Yes, young kids are slaves to their routines, and most parents have learned the hard way that a skipped nap or delayed meal can lead to mayhem. But the key to weathering the disruption lies in planning ahead—both by requesting special accommodations, such as hotel cribs and airline bassinets, and by bringing along your child’s favorite treats or creature comforts. Jane Gooding traveled to Tokyo with her 6-month-old daughter and found that the airline bassinet she reserved when she booked her flight was a godsend, allowing both her and her daughter to sleep on the plane and begin adjusting to the time difference in flight. “She adapted very easily to the time change and fell asleep most nights at restaurants while nursing,” says Gooding.
We’ll do it when they’re older
The experience of travel changes at every age, and there’s something to be said for seeing the sights with a sleeping baby rather than a sassy toddler. But traveling as a family creates shared experiences and opportunities for teaching profound lessons about the world and your child’s place in it. “Will a three-year-old remember Paris? No. But that trip to Paris at three, and to Costa Rica at four, and Greece at five, and Hong Kong at six, will shape your child in small but amazing ways,” says Eric Stoen, who runs the popular family travel website Travel Babbo. “She’ll remember the sounds and the smells, and she’ll try new foods. She’ll meet people who don’t sound like her or possibly look like her, but are welcoming and warm, and she’ll learn to associate that country with the people rather than with the government or with headlines.”
It’s too expensive
Sure, taking a vacation is more expensive than staying home, but there are ways to budget for your family vacation and real bargains to be found this summer. For example, British Airways is offering an amazing deal, where kids under the age of 12 can fly for free with an adult between Heathrow Airport and several Northern European cities. Doesn’t exploring a picturesque European hamlet sound better than battling crowds at the local pool? Budget-conscious travelers can also save money by skipping hotel rooms in favor of home rentals through VRBO.com, homeaway.com, or Airbnb. The price per square foot is typically lower, and you can cook your own food instead of paying for restaurant meals.
It’s too hard to plan
Involve kids in the planning process, so they can get excited about the upcoming adventure. After all, a trip with kids should be about the kids, says Stoen. “Regardless of where you are the world, search out parks and playgrounds and let your kids play.” Planning long museum visits or house tours with a three-year old in tow is almost asking for a tantrum. “That museum will still be there in 15 years when your kids are at college.” Oh, and have picnics. “They’re far more kid-friendly than three-hour meals in nice restaurants,” Stoen says.
We don’t speak a second language
In most places in the world, a well-intentioned effort to speak a few words of the local language goes a long way. Still, it’s a good idea to try to pick up few key words and phrases, such as “please,” “thank you,” and “where is…” You could also download an app, such as TripLingo, which offers an instant voice translator in 42 languages, a 10,000-word offline dictionary, a tip calculator and currency converter, and a “culture crash course” that will familiarize your family with local customs and etiquette.
My child is a picky eater
It’s no wonder that the thought of taking a picky eater to a place where all of the food is unfamiliar can cause major anxiety. If your child is a staunch kid-food devotee, but you want to travel to a place where chicken nuggets and mac ‘n’ cheese aren’t likely to be on the menu, your dream vacation just might help your child eat outside of the (Kraft) box. Implement a “one-bite” rule, so your child gets a taste of the local cuisine, then also have some familiar foods, such as fruit and bread and cheese, available so your child won’t go hungry. You can also ask restaurant staff to prepare simple meals, such as plain rice with chicken.
It may seem like the news is full of terrifying stories of terrorist incidents and other random acts of violence, but the odds of actually falling victim to such an attack while traveling are actually minuscule. “The dangers abroad are similar to the dangers at home–think car accidents and drowning,” says Stoen. Just take standard precautions and always be aware of your surroundings and more than likely you’ll be just fine.