A lot of people think that traveling with kids is difficult. I say, that’s because you’re doing it wrong.
Before, when I was traveling solo, I’d be up from dusk till dawn discovering all the sites mentioned in the guidebook, wearing myself down until it was time to crash into bed. But since having kids and trying to travel with them, I have learned how to pace myself on holiday.
These days, it’s quality over quantity. I throw all of my guidebooks away and focus on either exploring the city center, visiting a family-friendly museum, or hitting a zoo. I approach planning very carefully and spend countless hours on the computer to pick our point of interest for each day.
In Vienna, it was the beautiful Schönbrunn Palace. Because I had to make it interesting, I came up with all sorts of stories on princesses and queens and times past. I embellished, made things up, mentioned dragons for dramatic flair and basically just to check whether they were paying attention… and suddenly the palace and its gardens took on a whole different meaning. After I mentioned dragons, my girls were stuck on them for the rest of the day. I was moved. The museum left a lasting impression.
Travel with kids is fun if you have a vivid imagination, a big sense of humor, and an “I don’t care what other people think” attitude. My girls could have embarrassed me hundreds of times, having to pee at the most inappropriate moment, but I have mastered the shrug.
We manage to have fun on the go, mostly because we have learned to let it go (yes, just like the song we know by heart). On trips, we are cool parents. Routines slide. I try to give them the best of both worlds: a bit of travel and a bit of lazing around. Ice cream after lunch, fries for dinner and pastries for breakfast. Who cares? It’s vacation. Yes, holiday Mom is the best because she loves to travel and she’ll do anything to make the kids fall in love with traveling as well.
Even though my kids now prefer playgrounds to museums and galleries, I do believe that our holidays together are making them smarter. They have to work harder when they play with foreign kids, and they notice things we don’t have at home, like the metro, or trams. They can spot cows and horses from a mile away, and they now want to live in a castle (apparently they have seen too many of these on our trips and think they are pretty common).
In my opinion, traveling with kids really is the best way to travel. But when you do, don’t curse me if you sometimes have to work at having fun. Perhaps you’re just not doing it right.