Traveling has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. I often traveled with my parents growing up and was blessed to study abroad in both high school and college. When I became pregnant with my first daughter I was disheartened by the general consensus from others that my traveling days were over. Determined to never stop exploring the world I continued to travel while pregnant and post-baby. I now have two daughters who are 3 years old and 18 months and they have traveled to 5 continents, 15 countries, and 5 states with me.
Costs of Traveling With Kids The biggest challenge I hear parents mention on traveling with kids is cost. We afford to travel as a family with flight deals, flexibility with our departure/arrival airport, and using miles earned from travel credit cards and frequent flier accounts that offset costs. A trip we took earlier this year included all three of these! Getting to Thailand can be expensive but we got a flight deal to Singapore for $530 and then paid $29 from Singapore to Phuket. The flights directly to Thailand were $1,100 and the flight from Singapore was only 1.5 hours. Most non-US based airlines offer a 25% discount for kids under 12 and we flew Qatar Airways so this applied to us. Even better, all of our tickets were covered by the miles we earned from the sign-up bonus of our travel credit card. We score deals through The Flight Deal, Secret Flying and Airfare Spot.
Getting through the airport with kids! Lugging car seats, strollers, suitcases and your kids can sound like such a headache you’d rather stay home. However, with the right equipment, you can breeze through the airport. If you’re traveling with a car seat invest in a car seat transporter like the one pictured here. It lets me pull or push my car seat and doubles as a stroller while at the airport. For the babies, a carrier is key to staying hands-free and there are car seat totes that allow you to carry infant car seats like a back pack.
Kids on flights: The important thing is to keep them entertained, fed and comfortable. Entertainment: Coloring books, games, stickers, toys, tablets, and movies go a long way.
Food: If you’re traveling with a lap infant note most airlines don’t provide meals for unpaid children on international flights. On more family friendly airlines we’ve been provided with diapers, wipes, baby food, and toys for free. Be sure to find out what the airline you’re flying offers so you don’t end up with a hangry child on an 8hr flight.
Comfort: Pictured here is my daughter using a product that turns her airplane seat into a bed. I promise the more comfortable your toddler is the more comfortable you will be. For infants on international flights, airlines provide babies with bassinets! Nothing like being hands free on an overnight flight or when your meal is being served. Just call to request one after you’ve booked your flight.
Accommodations with kids: hotel or vacation home? I prefer to stay in vacation homes because they are cheaper and have a lot more space for my family of four. I especially love booking homes of families with young kids because they usually have everything we need. Our rental home in Copenhagen had a toddler bed, pack n play, plus tons of toys so we didn’t need to bring much. Another cost saving benefit of vacation homes is we can do a little grocery shopping on the first day and are able to cook breakfast and feed the kids at the ridiculous time they wake up in the morning. You can also extend this to making packed lunches or cooking dinner a few nights. Trying the local cuisine is a must but eating out 3 meals a day for a week vacation adds up quickly!
Do kids limit what you can do on vacation? I’ve heard many parents say kids limit what they can do on trip. Here I am kayaking with my 3 year old. There really isn’t much you can’t do, especially if there are other adults traveling with you. This allows you to switch out on activities your child can’t participate in. When I went to Australia I went scuba diving; I was traveling with 12 of my girlfriend’s and only 6 of us wanted to dive. The others were more than willing to watch my then 8 month old. Other non-traditional kids activities we’ve done include going into the mud at Volcan de Totumo in Colombia, stand-up paddle boarding, and snorkeling.
“Why travel with young kids, it’s a waste?” Kids remember more than we think, 5 months later and my eldest is still talking about this day at an Elephant Sanctuary. Besides the memories traveling has taught them about other cultures, foods, and languages. Travel teaches my girls flexibility, patience, how to adapt in situations they aren’t used to and that nice people come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Watching them learn through travel has been one of my favorite parts of motherhood. I know traveling with kids isn’t something everyone wants to do but if you do I hope this has shown you it is possible.
Monet Hambrick is the writer behind The Traveling Child, which was created to inspire parents to travel the world with their kids while providing tips to make it easier. She has traveled to 5 continents with her girls who are 1 and 3 years old. You can find her on Instagram @thetravelingchild.