Things definitely change when you start traveling as a family. If you traveled a lot before having kids you know, how things work, but need to make some adjustments. It all starts by choosing a destination for your family trip. I believe it’s possible to go almost everywhere with kids, but it all depends on us, the parents. If we’ll be ok at the destination, so will be kids. We have to feel comfortable with our choice.
Far away or closer by?
Again, it all depends on us, the parents. Kids of all ages will be ok either with long or short flights. I wrote about babies and flights already (Can a young baby enjoy flying?). I will also write a separate post about toddlers and flights. For older kids I have no experiences yet (except with my clients when I was guiding groups around the world). So I can say kids are mostly really ok with flights. You can also make time at the airport more entertaining for them. Us, parents, have to be ok with our decision. Maybe for a first family trip it’s sometimes easier to go for a short flight and a near by destination (check out how to enjoy a shorter flight with your baby – Enjoy flying with a young baby). Or sometimes it’s also easy to fly longer and you’ll arrive almost to your final destination and won’t need to drive a lot. There are many factors to be considered. But the conclusion is, parents have to be comfortable with the selected destination.
How to choose a destination baby/kid friendly?
It’s good to adjust the trip intensity to your children’s age. For young babies or toddlers try not to include too much driving by car as they have to be in their seats. And try to plan those car rides during the kids nap times. Well, maybe some kids like to ride with cars more than others. So just think about your kid. Also, if you go for a shorter flight, ideally try to book one during the day when baby / kid is napping. It’s possible. Try to plan to have a day of driving followed by a day of resting at one place (or exploring by foot for example).
One thing to consider is also the climate of the destination you’re going to. Try to travel when the climate is pleasant. It’s really helpful. For example, if you travel to the tropics, try to avoid the rainy season (we did that and I must say being stuck in a hotel room for a long time, waiting for the rain to stop might be a bit boring for the kids). Rainy season also brings some more health risks as there might be more insects (mostly mosquitos) at certain destinations during that time.
What about food at the destination?
This is a common worry, especially if you travel to places far away. Food and kids can be tricky sometimes. But mostly it’s possible to get something you (and more importantly, your kids) will like at any place. Yes, exotic food can be so different and so many times spicy, but it’s possible to find almost anything at many destinations around the world. And you can take some stuff with you like biscuits, dried fruit and such. Our toddler at 18 months of age tried any food we gave him, but at 2,5 years old it was a different story. Anyway, we always found a way and he was never hungry. Still, it’s good to browse a bit and research what’s on offer.
Plan sightseeing according to your kids ages.
You can do a lot of sightseeing with children. Even that really grown up, serious stuff. But they might not be the most patient waiting for you to enjoy that beautiful painting in a certain gallery. So plan your sightseeing in a way it will be entertaining for your kids. Or just do something grown up, followed by some more kid friendly activity or something. Try not to plan too much as plans with kids might change. So keep this in mind when you’re deciding where to go. Maybe save those more grown up destinations with lot’s of sightseeing for a few years later and choose something more kid friendly where any kind of beach is close by (or lake, river, amusement park or something like that). It’s different if you travel with a baby or a toddler. A baby will easily sleep during your sightseeing and won’t care much, but a toddler might be bored.
Any destination is possible, but…
…if you plan to travel more with your kids, it’s so good if they grow fond of traveling. So choosing a destination that will give your kids great experience is important. What we do is try to include as many toddler friendly activities to our trips as possible. Beach, sand dunes, aquariums, playgrounds, amusement parks,… Maybe that’s one of the reasons why he keeps on asking when we go traveling again. He loves it. So we’ll postpone a few destinations or make adjustments. And we’re all OK with it. What matters is that we go traveling and not just what we see.
I do plan to write more detailed about this topic in different posts so follow along. With time you’ll also be able to find destination guides on my page. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask me.