A Wife Loved Like The Church

Traveling With Little Kids Can Suck, But You Gotta Do it Anyway

Posted on: July 4, 2013

Jonathan and I both love to travel. We have been everywhere from San Francisco to Prague. We have slept in classy 4 star hotels and dirty hostels. Over the past 10 years, we’ve shared some amazing memories through our travels.

And then we had kids.

Let me just get this out there :: Traveling with little kids can suck, but you gotta do it anyway.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids. They’re fun and I genuinely enjoy being with them. But, if you want a “just like old times” trip, your kids are going to make you want to gouge your eyes out. With a plastic fork. From an Indian food restaurant in Oklahoma City you never {and I mean never} should have tried. Not that I’m speaking from experience.

1,100 mile road trip to Iowa

1,100 mile road trip to Iowa

Yet, even with the eye gouging moments, we make it a point to take our kids to as many places as we can because we want them to grow up loving to travel. They’ve been every where from San Diego to Washington D.C. with several areas in between.

Why travel with little kids? They won’t even remember.

True. I highly doubt Joseph will ever remember that time he saw the White House {in fact, he could care less about the White House, but he was pretty fascinated by the fountain on the North Lawn}. But, our girls {who are now 4 and 5} still talk about visiting LegoLand last August. So clearly, they remember something. Yet, our travels aren’t just for them to remember-that-one-time, but to prepare them for when they are older. Traveling while they are young is an investment for their future. Teaching them to have manners in new places, make insta-friends at new parks, enjoy seeing the culture of new places. None of this can they fully do now, but one day they will.

The fountain that was far more entertaining than the White House

The fountain that was far more entertaining than the White House

Traveling with kids is so expensive. I could never afford it.

You are telling me. Come November, we have to buy 5 plane tickets when we fly. That is easily $1500. Did you read that right? $1500. Oy. I need a drink. So, what do you do if you can never, ever, afford to fly somewhere? Drive. It takes longer, but we’ve done many 1000+ mile road trips. With three kids. Under the age of 5. {See above paragraph about Indian food in OKC.} If you can’t bear the thought of driving that far with your kids {or husband, ha!}, find a closer place. We live in Austin and have made many a vacation trips out of the surrounding cities. Even a day trip can be an eye opening experience for your children. Once at your destination, you can either stay with family/friends, or find deals on a hotel. We’ve had major luck with the “big name” travel sites on finding great hotel deals.

With the right planning, you can make your trip fairly inexpensive. Make your own meals. Stay at a campsite. Find family discounts at area events. Make a budget, make a plan and stick to it.

Joseph tagged along with me to NYC last fall for a wedding. He loved it.

Joseph tagged along with me to NYC last fall for a wedding. He loved it.

I realize not every family can travel. The expense and time off work just aren’t permissible. And frankly, not every family wants to travel. It can be overwhelming and chaotic. But, it can be amazing and incredibly rewarding. If you set the right expectations.

How to have good expectations when traveling with kids.

I’ve learned the best thing for our family is to have a well laid out plan. If we are visiting a new city, map out the top things we really want to do, followed by the things we would like to do. On a recent trip to D.C. our list included the White House and The Museum of Natural History. Everything we did or saw after that was mere bonus. Having a plan in place, will help you prioritize and stay focused.

Realize that when traveling with little kids, they will be more of everything. More tired. More hyper. More cranky. More chill. More nervous. More excited. And it can vary by day {heck, with my kids it can vary by hour}. Be prepared with extra of everything. Extra water. Extra snacks. Extra time. Extra lovies. Extra {extra} patience. You’re asking a lot from these little people, so set your expectation accordingly. And give them lots of praise.

Julia can become very shy when she’s in a new setting. The problem is, we Windhams don’t do shy. Jonathan and I are both quite outspoken and encourage our children to be the same. We spend a ton of time coaching Julia on how to use her voice and speak up to other adults {or other children she wants to meet}. It’s taken countless failures, but our last trip to the East Coast showed me just how far she had come. On our flights she was talking to the attendants, while out and about she was making friends with other littles, and when visiting museums she was asking the curators for more information. Every time she stepped out of her shell, we were quick to praise her efforts. In her world, this is a huge step and I want her to see how well she has done.

Day trip to Sea World - San Antonio, just me and the littles

Day trip to Sea World – San Antonio, just me and the littles

Traveling with little kids can suck, but you gotta do it anyway. 

Our travels as a family aren’t always rosy. When we were in D.C., Jonathan and I spent a good 30 minutes arguing because we were under prepared for the day {think rain but no umbrella, lots of walking but no stroller}. Our kids were grumpy, tired and generally off balance. But, as Jonathan and I changed our attitudes and reset our expectations, the day ended up being really fun. So while traveling with little kids can suck at times, you gotta push through and keep doing it anyway. The long term reward is worth the momentary road bumps.

Now take a deep breathe, make a plan, and start your travels!

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2 Responses to "Traveling With Little Kids Can Suck, But You Gotta Do it Anyway"

Ohhh girl, I so admire your family’s adventure and willingness to go. We love to travel too but are so intimidated and scared of our own and the children’s attitudes without good rest. I love your ideas though and as the kids get older I can see the possibilities in the future. But, seriously what do you do about lack of sleep? Do your kids rest in car seats strollers etc?

For me, the secret to traveling with my little girl is to always pack an extra pair of leggings in my carry on. That way if she spills something on her pants, or gets cold, it’s easy for her to slip them on. Plus, they pack really small! My daughter’s favorite brand is http://www.twirlygirlshop.com/girls-capri-leggings but obviously there are lots of places to get them.

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