Are we there yet?
Travelling with children is a lot like childbirth. With childbirth once you are presented with a beautiful bouncing baby you soon forget the morning sickness, the frequent toilet stops, the lack of sleep and don't get me started on the level of pain. With travel when it's all over and you have the wonderful memories at the end of your trip you soon forget about everything you didn't enjoy about travelling with your children. The minute you post those idyllic pictures on Facebook or worse still bore your friends and family with a wonderfully produced photo book (guilty), your mind is a blank. The whining, ‘I'm hungry’, the ‘How long do we have to wait in this queue?’, the ‘Are we there yet’? All forgotten once you get home....until you do it all over again.
Before children, I had been lucky and done a lot of travel, everything from backpacking to 5 star for work and for pleasure. I had always been satisfied with what I have seen and done and for a very long time I didn't want to go anywhere especially when the kids were young. The thought of packing nappies, portacots, blenders and formula was not my idea of a holiday. We did once book a seaside getaway but when I caught my middle child whom was an early walker trying to pull herself up on a bookcase that was not steady, I quickly declared I was not having fun and that the safe boundary of home was the only place I wanted to be! As the years went on and the list of things I would need to pack for the children lessened, I yearned to take them out of their comfort zone and travel the world.
Travelling with kids is hard work and sometimes it's no holiday for the adults. Travelling can be hard going for anyone. Washing your underwear in the bathroom sink as the thought of paying someone $5 to wash them is beyond all things sensible. Paying $30 for a hotel breakfast also makes me shudder, and paying for wifi is not something I like to do.
My tips for travelling with kids:
You'd be surprised how flexible your children are. They can miss sleeps. They can eat late. They just might be interested in history, art, science or bush walking.
Children don't need many toys when you travel as they have the greatest toy of all, which are you and your attention. I do however always pack a handball, it's great for the times that you are waiting...
Teach your kids about recycling, not recycling rubbish but recycling clothes. One wear doesn't mean it's time for the washing basket (there is none when you travel.)
Always pack snacks. I try and have a jar of Vegemite on hand because I know if all else fails a vegemite sandwich will suffice.
Kids can walk. Our kids are good walkers so that opens up a whole world of things that we can do that don't cost a lot of money. Bushwalking, walking the streets of a new city instead of jumping on public transport – it allows for great exploring.
Breakfast included as part of your accommodation package provides a great start to the day (and often everyone eats so much, lunch is not needed until quite late) but there is nothing wrong with eating weet bix in a hotel room and saving the money for something else if the breakfast package is pricey.
Don't feel that you have to tick off all the must see things. I have stood outside the Vatican in a queue that was going nowhere in the hot sun and have declared to my children that when they are 18 they can come back to Rome and do this tour at their own expense. At the base of the Eiffel Tower it was the gelato they enjoyed in the park, rather than joining the queue to go up the top of the tower.
Have a good knowledge of local parks in the area of where you are staying and I always try and book accommodation with a swimming pool.
Be flexible - when the kids were really little yes everything had to be completely planned but now they are older it's ok to cancel a night of accommodation if you have seen enough or take a diversion if you need too.
Always proudly display the ‘ please clean my room sign.’ I leave it permanently on the door and sometimes you might be lucky enough to get the room cleaned twice!
Always request fresh towels. No recycling there. You’re not washing them.
No one knows you and your family better than you do. Trip advisor and travel agents are great but it's you that will pick the best holiday for your family. I always ask a friend who has been there before.
Louise Gaspar is a Brisbane based blogger and mum extraordinaire
This blog was created or shared for the enjoyment of visitors to Little Kisses baby gifts and baby hampers www.littlekisses.com.au