to think I could still travel with a child?

(80 Posts)
shoesandwine Wed 10-Apr-13 09:30:02

Bit of background info: currently TTC after many years of indecision smile DH and I are BIG travellers. We probably do 3 or 4 foreign holidays a year, at least one long-haul (I don't mean that to sound boastful - we have a small flat, no car and no expensive holidays, and while I appreciate that we are financially comfortable, we do cut back on other things to prioritise the travel). We also live out of the UK anyway, so also do 2 or 3 trips back to England a year to visit family (very important to me, and I think that would be more so if we did have kids).

AIBU to think I won't have to stop travelling completely if/when I have kids? Every time I talk about our next trip/future holiday plans, my friends/colleagues invariably roll their eyes and make some comment along the lines of "well, better fit those holidays in now, if you have kids that will all be over". MIL actually thinks we should stop the travel now because "it will make it easier on us when we (obviously) have to give up".

I'm not completely naive and know we'd have to reduce the amount of travel a lot (maybe just one or two trips a year??). I also know that it would require a lot more organisation and patience. But I know so many people who travel with kids (never been on a long-haul flight without some young children there) - my parents travelled with me and my DSis when we were very young (even to Australia). My Dad worked for an airline so it was part of life for us. Why do people imply it will be impossible with kids?

At the risk of sounding overdramatic, the comments really get me down. Travel is the whole focus of our year - I've always said that if I had to give up anything in life, travel would be the very last thing I'd give up. To see the world is the only thing I've really wanted from life. AIBU to think it's not incompatible with having kids?

HazleNutt Wed 10-Apr-13 10:01:44

YANBU, my niece has been travelling since she was 2 months old and DSil has always had several long haul trips per year. The kid has been to more countries than most people in their lifetime! Sure, takes some more organisation and you need to haul more luggage around, but besides that, why not? I'm already planning our first trip with DS who is due in June.

The people claiming you can't are like a friend of mine, who claims as well that the reason she stopped travelling is because of her DS. She has never tried. Her DS is the same age as my niece and a very well behaved little boy, I'm sure would be a total pleasure to travel with. But she won't and simply believes it's not possible.

juneau Wed 10-Apr-13 10:06:24

You sound a lot like my DH and me before we had kids - we were living in the US at the time and we travelled back here a couple of times a year, plus a couple of city breaks and a longer trip each year. We loved to travel, we had the money to do it, and our passion for travel was a big thing we shared.

For the first two years of DS1's life we were still living in the US and I wasn't working, so I brought him over here 2-3 times per year to visit my family. Now we have a second DC and live back in the UK, so we don't choose to do long-haul travel. I know families that do, but for us it's much easier to drive or keep flights short - particularly with a toddler - which is the worst age for travel IME.

So, we still travel, but the way in which we travel and the destinations we choose have changed a lot. In the year before DS1 was born we went to Rio, Alaska, Savannah and back to the UK - three long-haul trips and one city break. Last year we flew to the Alps for a week's skiing, we drove to France for two weeks in the summer, and we had a long weekend in the Cotswolds in Oct. It's a bit of a come-down, TBH, but the stress of going somewhere exotic is too much with small DC and they don't care where they go, so it's a case of balancing what you need to have any enjoyment at all (for us, that's some cultural diversions), with what they want (a sand pit, a toddler pool, a petting zoo, etc). As they get older I'm looking forward to sharing some more adventurous destinations with them, but for now it's just easier to keep it simple. And, of course, they don't care whether they go to Cornwall or the Caribbean.

DeepRedBetty Wed 10-Apr-13 10:08:10

this is my friend's site. I know he's written a book about doing Thailand with kids, at the time they were a nine year old girl and three year old boy I think.

Alligatorpie Wed 10-Apr-13 10:12:02

These sort of posts depress me. Children do not end your life, you are still the person your were before you had a baby, you just need to adapt a bit. Why not focus on sharing your passion for travel and adventure with your children?

When dd1 was four months old, we spent 2 months travelling around three countries in SE Asia. She has been to several countries but only one all-inclusive - Mexico when she was 2 and we all needed a relaxing break. We now live overseas - dd1 is an amazing traveller, dd2 is almost 10 months and has been on 11 flights. I have flown without dh on a long haul journey with a baby and a six year old and they were both great during the 27 hour journey.

I recently signed up for a travel with kids blog, its called Walking on Travels and would be good for new parents and is an ok read for people used to travelling with children.

"You can't take children on planes"? Really? Has she ever been on a plane? Ignore her- she sounds like a loon. Of course you can travel with children.

shoesandwine Wed 10-Apr-13 10:13:06

Thanks to everyone for your stories, it's nice to get an insight into what everyone else is doing and to hear that we're not completely insane.

Alligatorpie Wed 10-Apr-13 10:16:28

Just reread my post. It sounds a bit ranty - sorry, it just drives me nuts when people complain how they can't travel due to having kids. You can, you just have to adjust your expectations smile

shoesandwine Wed 10-Apr-13 10:16:53

*Alligatorpie" - she can be a bit of a loon to be honest smile She generally disapproves of travel because she thinks it's a waste of money and she resents the fact that my DH enjoys travelling to see my family (???), so I think she secretly hopes they'll be scrubbed out of the picture altogether. To be fair to her, it is a different culture, she's from a very conservative rural area of southern Europe and hasn't quite accepted the fact that we haven't chosen to move into her village, let alone lead our outrageous lifestyles smile

manicinsomniac Wed 10-Apr-13 10:28:01

Absolutely, of course you can!

My eldest was born during my second year of university. During her first summer (8-9 months old) she came to Brazil with me doing voluntary work with street children and travelling, her second summer she came back to Brazil doing much of the same and her 3rd summer she travelled round India with me, stopping for several weeks in an orphanage.

After that I had a job and a year after that I had my second daughter but we still do a fair amount. The girls are half Brazilian so we go there a lot (not because I have any contact with their father or his family but because I want them to know their other culture and speak their other language) and have many friends there and a project we are very invovled in. I've also taken them interrailing with my sister around Europe and to Africa. This summer we're going to the Amazon.

To me it's so much more important that they have these experiences than stuff. My children are well travelled (well actually they're not because it's mainly one country but they go there a lot!) and do a lot of activities but they have very little in the way of possessions. I don't believe they need them.

lljkk Wed 10-Apr-13 10:29:22

What if your kids hate new situations? Or have medical needs that are hard to meet on the road? I know a New Age Traveller family & their lifestyle is very disruptive to the children's social lives (imho). Travelling with my kids is my idea of Hell (did loads of travel before DC born, and my family are 4000 miles away so still do some big trips).

An extra person is as expensive as an extra adult from about age 8.

Don't mean to sound down, just that OP sounds a little naive about how much children change lives. Obviously many can travel widely with 1-2 kids just fine. Travelling with one small person is a heck of a lot easier than travelling with 2+, though. So you might hope you don't get twins.

Xiaoxiong Wed 10-Apr-13 10:32:44

YANBU, but I agree with juneau that babies are great because they are portable, older kids will enjoy new things and a different culture, but toddlers are the worst age for travelling. You just have to adjust your expectations slightly, and be realistic about what's possible, so it may not be a question of "giving up" travel but perhaps adjusting your plans during the toddler years.

DS is 16 months and has been to the US twice, Spain twice, and Kenya a couple of months ago. We went on safari under canvas a couple of years ago with a friend's four year old which was absolutely fine but that was probably the youngest age limit I can imagine enjoying it.

However, odd things do sometimes trip you up - we were planning to go to Spain this weekend which we have postponed because DH has to work, and the problem really is the car seat. We can't get where we're going without a car or taxi, I can't find a taxi company that will guarantee they'll turn up with a car seat, and no one will help me with a Britax 2-way elite on Ryanair while also wrangling DS and a rucksack.

I have traveled alone before just fine with DS in a soft carrier (no pram), co-sleeping (no travel cot) and a maxi-cosi pebble (easily carried in one hand), but now he's in an ERF car seat it's a PITA travelling alone if a car is necessary.

We will certainly be travelling a lot again when he's older and the logistics are a little easier.

BertieBotts Wed 10-Apr-13 10:34:43

Read "My Mother Wore Combat Boots" or "The Hip Mama Survival guide" - both fab real life accounts of mothers/families going travelling with their children!

Alligatorpie Wed 10-Apr-13 10:44:56

Xioaxiong - do you remember the safari you went on? I wanted to go to Kenya and do a safari at xmas (dd's will be almost 8 and 18 months) but i can't find one that takes children of that age. They all want me to leave dd2 at the camp while we go out for trips, which i don't want to do. Any info you have would be great. I think we will go to Zanzibar for a beach holiday if I can't find one.

Op - sorry for the hijak!

soapnuts Wed 10-Apr-13 10:49:11

of course you can still travel - of course you may not want to for a while if/when you have several small children and not much energy spare! (that's my situation) but DS1 has been some very cool places and he's only 3 - now we've got DS2 we're not massively interested in travel but I know that's a passing stage (he's only 3 months.... already been halfway around the world though!!) - for us it's a bit more important to have some time in the UK (we live abraod - it's still travelling but home to home if you see what i mean) but we still have plans to take them out of school for a year when theyre a bit older and they can appreciate it and there will be other trips before then - kids may change your life for a while but it doesn't change who you are - if you love travel, chances are your kids will too!.

For those people who doubt you, just nod and agree - they have their opinion, you have yours (and guess who wins!) or mention that you can't wait til your baby can swim so you can take them white water rafting down the zambezi and watch their face!

i did huge amounts of travel as a child - so did my mum (as a child too), i adored it and still do. don't let it depress you - yes your life changes when you have kids but it's pretty temporary even if it does. and def right about start them early - everyone complains about their kids flying - DS1 is a bloomin angel on board a plane wish he'd learn to be like hat the rest of the time

also i think travelling with kids really opens doors - I can't go anywhere here (asia) without strangers striking up conversations with/about the kids - it's a whole new level of experience.

BarredfromhavingStella Wed 10-Apr-13 10:54:58

Alligator you'll probably have to book a private vehicle as the age limits are for other peoples comfort-a lot of the animals are disturbed by noise. I think the age limit when we went was 7.

lljkk Wed 10-Apr-13 10:55:55

If you want inspiration you could check out Dervla Murphy's book Where the Indus is Young. I was born about same time as her little girl & often think that could have been my childhood adventure.

But as a parent I would have lost all nerve for it. Give me civilisation instead, thanks.

whokilleddannylatimer Wed 10-Apr-13 11:06:18

I have been thinking of doing this for a few months tbh.

We have only ever spent the holidays in uk/spain/greece but we have been talking about using the six week holidays each year to back pack somewhere. Mine are older but i wish i had done it before constraints of school.

kinkyfuckery Wed 10-Apr-13 11:08:51

You sound like you are as well prepared as you can be. You are right, all you need is more planning and organisation and it's perfectly do-able.

kinkyfuckery Wed 10-Apr-13 11:09:50

Maybe one of the reasons people feel travel isn't as easy with kids is because of the timings and trying to fit everything in? i.e. juggling holiday dates with annual leave from work, but also with school holidays etc?

MummytoMog Wed 10-Apr-13 11:11:36

My DD went to Hong Kong with DH when she was 8 months old. No bother. Cathay Pacific were awesome (especially when they got trapped by the ash cloud) and the flight was not a problem, very helpful air hostesses, nice little bassinet for bubba to sleep in, very contented baby. My friends went backpacking to India with their one year old in a backpack, my other friends took their four month old to Barbados. All very possible.

Empress77 Wed 10-Apr-13 11:15:18

I cant wait to take my children to Africa for the first time, i think its totally totally doable -my Mum is also horrified by the idea-but having been there plenty of times I know it will be fine. You can always go to places youve been before and can know it to be ok & know your way around abit etc. And if your travelling at your own pace you can just take your time to your childs needs - like planning shorter journeys - cutting back on those horrific 15 hour bus journeys through india etc. My sister took her boy camping for a few months of her maternity leave & he loved it and is such an outdoor boy now its brilliant, and she loved it as they took it really slow and relaxed. Plenty of overland companies like dragoman do family orientated safari trips too to make travelling super easy. Only thing I would worry is health wise - My brother took his son to barbados very early and he got ill there and had some terrible times in the hospital. My dh is a doctor so I feel we are very lucky in that regard - id definitely think on health stuff/first aid etc & pack well equipped - planning ahead & knowing where the good hospitals are in case of an emergency maybe too?

Empress77 Wed 10-Apr-13 11:24:42

oo just looking on amazon at those books mentioned above (thanks for that!) and see lonely planet even do a travel with children book!

cantspel Wed 10-Apr-13 11:26:31

All depends what you mean by traveling. Are you talking a nice flight and then pick up a rental car then staying in a hotel or with family or trekking around the amazon in a canoe.

The first one is called going on holiday and the second one traveling.
I never stopped going on holiday long and short haul but i wouldn't fancy traveling with a baby.

Plus you have the fact you will probably be skint by the time you have to go back to work and start paying out for childcare and just as skint if you decide to be a sahm.

shoesandwine Wed 10-Apr-13 11:41:18

All of the links are great - thanks so much smile

Xiaoxiong Wed 10-Apr-13 11:48:14

Alligator we (ie. my aunt who lives out there) organised our own trip and hired our own guides. The friends with the four year old live out there too so we joined forces - they drove their own jeep and had their own carseats and stuff. The rest of us were in a landrover and there were two guides and three guys sorting the camp. I don't think it would be too difficult to organise a bespoke trip if you really wanted to... but now I have a nearly 18 month old DS I do know that would be quite difficult to keep him both interested and quiet for a few hours on game drives.

Never been to Zanzibar but I can highly recommend Lamu for little ones, Shela beach might have been designed for toddlers. Having done both I would rent a villa in Shela and save the safari for a couple of years till your DC is a little older smile

Those of you going to Africa, do be aware of certain illnesses - DS got rotavirus while we were in Nairobi. While you can get sick staying right here at home, I didn't realise it was quite so endemic that kids there are routinely jabbed for it and the travel clinic here in the UK didn't advise me of it either. He was fine, the children's hospital was brilliant and we had insurance, but he did take a while to get over it and also had a bad reaction (IPT) afterwards. We also made sure to avoid malarial areas in the wet season.

girlwhowearsglasses Wed 10-Apr-13 11:50:44

Also worth remembering that kids are all different - chances are YOUR kid will enjoy travel, as you do. Also one child = much easier. We have twins and an older one and I dearly wish we'd travelled when they were small - even though it would have been bloody hard work - now they have to pay through the nose

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