You know when I boarded the plane with my 4 month old daughter 11 years ago, I never dreamed that we would truly travel the world with our family.
11 years later, we have been, as a family, to 44 states, 3 Canadian Provinces, and 6 Countries (if you count airports…)
And there was that one trip to Armenia where we got stamped in at the border and turned around and walked right back to the Georgian border. (That was a day!)
In a couple months we will be starting our stateside travel to raise funds for our missions work and by the time we are done my children will have been to all 48 contiguous states, plus 3 more Canadian provinces (west coast this time!)
I say all of that to say this…
You can travel with kids (and enjoy it!)
I do have a lot of travel tips and tricks up my sleeves, but I think this is the biggest one that I can give you:
If you are not super-organized-mama now don’t try to be while traveling. It’s okay to ‘just wing it’ when it comes to certain details of your trip. Where to stop for supper, making it to the hotel at just the right time, making a fun stop when you see a fun attraction on the side of the road.
If you are not spontaneous-mama now, don’t try to be while traveling. It’ll just stress you out. Get the details, find out ahead of time what sights will be along your travel path, plan an extra hour for the ridiculous amount of potty breaks that little kids need. (In fact, bring along the potty chair!)
Same goes for your husband and kids! Let them be themselves. Don’t expect them to change just because the location is changing.
If you have hyper kids, plan for that. If you have quiet kids, plan for that.
My point is that if you stay in the comfort zone of your personality and abilities, your children will feel more comfortable and the entire family will feel less stress.
They love you the way that you are, so don’t try to be someone else just because you’re hitting the road (or soaring through the skies.)
Funny story to exemplify this:
Last month we had a trip planned to go to Riga, Latvia. Tickets purchased well in advance.
I’ll be completely honest and say that we got some devastating news about my youngest daughter about 5 days before the trip. We didn’t know all the details yet, but our doctor was recommending she undergo a huge series of tests for what he thought to be a brain injury from birth. (update: My daughter’s team of doctors now believe that she has a rare genetic disorder.)
I was completely knocked off my game.
Somehow I managed to go through our pre-trip routine.
Before ANY trip, we clean our house from top to bottom. Wash all the clothes & put them all away. Dishes done. Fridge cleaned out. The whole works.
This is what allows me to accomplish the actual packing of a week’s worth of clothes for all six of us in less than 30 minutes and fit it all in two suitcases.
Still knocked off my game though.
No problems getting to the airport. Flight goes fine. We arrive in the customs line and suddenly it hits me.
I had absolutely no idea what the visa laws were. And I hadn’t printed out any of the hotel information.
Totally scary thought for an international traveler. (Side note: Do as I say, not as I do….make sure you check visa information before traveling!)
We got to the customs agent, she looks at all of our kids. And asks for our travel details. Yikes!
After some searching on his iPad, my husband is finally able to find the name of the hotel we’re staying at.
All is well and we’re stamped though, no visa required.
Now, that could have meant total devastation for our trip. We could have totally freaked out about it. But because we remained our usual calm selves, we figured out how to make it work. We laughed about it and it was actually a great stress reliever for us.
Trust me when I say that if we had been traveling someplace I thought was more strict on visas, I would have looked up the information before buying the tickets.
(I’m making a mental note to check the visa requirements for our trip to Spain next month…)
We plan for travel just like we would plan for any other day of the week. To us being together is what creates ‘home’, not our physical location.
Because of this our kids don’t get stressed out about travel. Even our special needs daughter can be okay if we show her that we are okay. She takes longer to adjust than the rest of us, but if we’re not stressed, we can attend to her better which makes her less stressed.
And we can all enjoy the trip!
What about you? How do you ‘be yourself’ while traveling? Are you a super-planner or a take-it-as-it-comes traveler?