Are you considering a trip around the world with kids? Read here why you should travel with the kids and what is good to take into consideration when planning the travels, as well as on the road.
On our trip around the world we got to combine two things we love: kids and travel. It never occurred to us that we wouldn’t dare travel around the world with our 1-, 8-, and 9-year-olds. But since so many have wondered about it, we decided to write a post about why it is an especially good idea to travel with the kids.
ENJOY THE BEST COMPANY IN THE WORLD
Your own kids are the best possible travel companions. Children are so genuinely curious and they get excited about everything new, that it brings a smile to your face. Kids can be really helpful, if you just trust them with responsibility. It’s completely futile to ponder about kids being an obstacle when travelling, or that travelling with them is too complicated, when it in fact becomes richer in so many ways. It is also worth pondering whether there is ever really time when you can just be with your loved ones without the rush of everyday life.
It is luxury to wake up every day without schedules and to enjoy the slow moments with the children in your arms, for example in the middle of a paradise island. Many of the best moments, in addition to the memories of visiting fantastic places, have to do with that togetherness and leisure. These moments become memories the whole family shares.
RAISE YOUR KIDS TO BECOME CITIZENS OF THE WORLD
Open-mindedness and a liberal view on people, cultures and customs that differ from your own mold children’s way of thinking. It’s a different thing to be able to show what other places in the world look like and how people there think than to merely tell or read about it from books.
Kids have an inbuilt ability to be empathetic and fair towards others. They want to do something concrete to the injustices they see around them, and this is a tendency that can and should be enforced even after the trip. It is left for the adults to explain the reasons for things and clarify their meanings to the child in an age-appropriate manner. The whole family learns a lot from these discussions.
The locals are worth trusting, although naturally with caution. Laugh at the people selling every which kind of service, but give the locals a chance to help, even with the strollers. This makes everyone feel good. We have received benevolent help tens and tens of times around the world when travelling with kids. The kids have also learned that not all people are generous or have the best of intentions. Travelling teaches reciprocity: are you worth trusting?
GO EXPERIENCE WITH THE KIDS!
The trip around the world or the top moments of of future legs of travel are worth highlighting and talking about with the kids, both beforehand and naturally during the trip, too. First of all, those moments provide a lot of fun topics and things to plan together, and they also help in getting the kids to commit to early morning wake-ups or other challenging things that require a bit more effort in a completely new way.
It’s a good idea to tell the kids what the next day or the near future will roughly hold, so they know how to deal with the uncertainty of life without routines. On the other hand, it’s not recommended to tell them too much or go into too much detail, because plans have a tendency to change when you are travelling, due to things like the weather. The kids learn quickly how to navigate in the midst of changes when you don’t make them into a too big of a deal and when you replace the expected menu item with something else worth looking forward to. In this case, too, it’s the attitude that matters.
INCREASE YOUR CHILD’S SELF-STARTER ATTITUDE
Travelling is a good way to enforce your children’s trust in their own capabilities and to support their self-starter attitude. The courage to try out new things and the possibility to succeed mold the kids’ self-confidence and survival skills. Giving and taking responsibility during the journey may even demand the most from the adults. Consider letting your child order her or his own food in English, even if it ends up taking a little longer and the order doesn’t go quite right. The courage and daring to try, even with the risk of failing, are things that will be appreciated at later age.
ANTICIPATE PROBLEMATIC SITUATIONS
It’s worth taking the time to prepare for potential tricky situations. This is possibly the one thing that can make travelling around the world tiring at times. Many of these situations have to do with eating or moving from place to place over a long period of time or at strange hours of the day. It gets easier if you’ve thought things through from the kids’ perspective as carefully as possible. The kids will learn how to deal with discomfort if the adults are relaxed.
One of our routines was to build an ”airport camp,” if we had to wait at the airport for a long time. A part of the camping is to spread sarongs on the floor, so that the whole gang can get comfortable (and not hang out on the uncomfortable airport benches), and also treats and different kind of entertainment. This way travelling goes from waiting to living. After living sparsely, an upgrade to business class or a hotel that’s better than usual make travelling momentarily luxurious.
Do not underestimate the importance of meals. Always keep an emergency snack of some sort with you. The stores are always closed right when you need to eat. The big girls were not exactly thrilled when after the Hong Kong flight they got an evening snack of baby porridge and fruit puree, because at two am all the places nearby were closed and they hadn’t eaten on the plane. So get something that all the kids can eat in an emergency, either from the airport or bring it with you from home. Flights are often delayed.
Keep the right currency of your destination country somewhere nearby, so that you can, for example, buy food to go at the airport. So do not pack the yellow Forex bag with all the money on the bottom of the carry-on backpack that’s full up to the brim, like we did.
Use a food app to check some establishment that serves food and that’s located close to the sights. Or when hunger is knocking, go to that first restaurant, even if it doesn’t look perfect. It’s more important to get food before the hunger or tiredness hits than to find the perfect atmosphere. Been there, done that. And the person sulking isn’t necessarily one of the kids…
It’s a good idea to check the local price level in advance. This way you’ll know roughly how much the taxi from the airport to the hotel costs and whether it’s recommended to tip or not. In my tired and hungry state of being I got my 100,00 and 10,000 rupiah notes mixed up when we arrived to Indonesia, and I didn’t understand why the reception guy who had gotten us a ride thorugh a friend of his refused to accept the smaller bill. Now I can laugh about it.
Finally, I’d like to mention how handy it is when the kids take care of one another!
Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and enjoy the journey.Babs Hoffman
THE BEST THING ABOUT THE TRIP WAS BEING TOGETHER AS A FAMILY.Laura 9y
Are you pondering about your little travelers’ health? Not to worry, take a look at this: Health tips for traveller. Dr. Katri Vilkman answers.