Travel: Fear of Traveling with the Kids

Forget your fear: Quiet moment grandchild grandparent

Parents think it is easier to leave the kids at home and travel without them. While romantic getaways can be a wonderful treat, excluding the kids routinely will have you missing the fantastic benefits of multigenerational travel. Traveling with your children and family members is a unique way to build relationships and create bonds that last lifetimes. You can’t have too many wonderful family moments to look back upon in your life. So, why don’t we create more?

Fear.

Fear keeps us from taking the kids to restaurants and museums and wonderful historic sights. Fear keeps us from traveling and exploring and enjoying the world around us. Fear keeps us going back to Disney and Chuck E. Cheese over and over again.

We fear:

*noise

Kids can be noisy. Sometimes they are happy and noisy, sometimes they are angry and noisy or tired and noisy or perfectly content and noisy. Sometimes it is hard to even know why they are noisy! We worry we will be judged by the noise they make and we can’t control.

*mess

Kids can be messy. Ok, usually messy. Ok, ok – always messy! We worry that we will be judged by the mess they create at the restaurant or hotel or destination.

*exhaustion

Kids are work. Kids can be exhausting! We worry that we will be so tired from dealing with them we won’t enjoy the outing or vacation.

*waste

Kids can be so all consuming that we fear wasting an opportunity when we take them along. Will it be a waste to spend so much money to take them to museum/Europe/restaurant? Will it be a waste because we think (incorrectly) they won’t remember what we want them to remember?

*judgement

Even though kids are all different and do NOT come with instruction manuals, there are still ‘those’ people who judge you because you aren’t doing it right. Even though they don’t know you or your story or your kid, they’ll give you that look of judgement. You know that look – we’ve all been there and received it.

FACE YOUR FEAR.

When your child comes to you with a fear of the dark or a fear of a monster under the bed what do you do? Parents comfort and show they there is nothing to be afraid of. Parents teach, we guide, we explain.

But, sometimes there IS something to be afraid of, right? Kids really do make noise and messes like Pig Pen in the Snoopy cartoons and you might feel your fear is totally justified -not like imaginary monsters under the bed.Β Should we fear something normal? Natural? Designed by God himself? Should be fear something that has been happening for thousands of years before us and surely thousands of years after us?

Should we fear…..”them”? Who the heck are “they” anyway? That crabby woman who scowls at you because she comes from a time when kids were seen and not heard? Roll your eyes at her and move on. You don’t know her and shouldn’t care what she thinks. Don’t give her the time of day. That young couple without kids looking at you – whispering about how their kids will never be noisy and messy or meltdown? Chuckle because you know their time will come.

You can FACE YOUR FEAR by learning how to travel near or far with your kids and love it. You CAN go to nice restaurants with the kids. You CAN take long plane rides with the kids. You CAN explore the world with the kids and see the fascinating places you dream of.

I can teach you how to travel with the kids and enjoy it!

Overcome your fear: Yoda - will teach you travel with kids

Let’s address each fear.

  1. Noise
    Kids are noisy. There is no getting around that. I remember with my first kiddo how shocked I was to learn she could be very noisy even when happy. Remember baby squeals? Baby raspberry noises when they learn how their lips work? When you read that sentence did you smile? So did I…people around you love babies. Happy babies can make all the noise they want and people smile, chuckle and remember.

Unhappy noise is another story altogether and the one we fear most. Baby crying. Toddler screaming. Preschooler yelling, “NO! I don’t want milk. I want SODA!”

Before we get any further let me assure you that it happens to everyone. Every. Single. Person. Every single person on the entire planet has been that kid making unhappy noises. Even that horrible woman who scowls at you from across the room. AND she has forgotten that HER children made that noise, too. It is normal and natural and happens to everyone- even though unpleasant. πŸ˜‰

So, what do you do? Happy noises you just shush…they usually want attention so give them some and a toy for distraction.

Unhappy noises…you need to take them out of the room. Not forever, but for a minute for them to learn you can’t make that much racket. There will be a dinner, very early on, I promise you that you go back and forth outside several times. You will feel like you have made a huge mistake, but you have not. Kids need to learn and that is the only way. Your choices are A) Teach them how to eat at restaurants B) Leave them at home with the nanny. (Yeah, right) or C) Stay inside your house until they are 18 (BORING!).

Bored noises – Β this one is an easy fix. Read here on what to bring to keep kiddo busy and interested.

2. Mess

Plan on leaving a really good tip. You’ll clean up all the big pieces of whatever was flung all over the place but there will still be more cleaning necessary at your table than one where only civilized adults ate. Just tip more and move on. Your child isn’t the only one that has eaten there and they won’t be the last.

3. Exhaustion

Firstly, parenting is exhausting. It just is. Exercise gives you energy, rest gives you energy, caffeine gives you energy, but you are going to be tired anyway. Why not be tired in some fabulous location instead of your own living room? Kids grow up and this difficult phase won’t last forever. You will survive just like your own parents did and that horrible woman who is scowling at you from across the room. You have my permission to stick your tongue out at her, too. πŸ˜‰

4. Waste

Kids learn – every single day and everything is interesting. You can hand your car keys to a baby and they are fascinated! Big trucks going down the street fascinate toddlers. Riding on a bus or a plane or a train is wonderful for a preschooler. Kids learn and remember. Why wouldn’t children learn and remember something from a wonderful location? Maybe the kids won’t learn the history of Rome or the dates a castle was built but that is OK. It isn’t a ‘waste’ when they learn something at their level – rather than yours.

True story: My youngest was evaluated for speech services and I sat in to watch. The speech pathologist flipped cards and asked my son, who was 6, to choose the picture that matched her word. When she finally stopped she said to me, “I was done with the test 5 minutes ago, but wanted to keep going to see just how high he could go with vocabulary” She pointed to the last card where he had correctly identified the photo matching word ‘inscription’ and asked my son how he knew the answer. He simply said, “When we were in Italy last year we saw those on all the statues.” The same explanation was used for how he knew several other words as well. I still smile at that moment of concrete proof that he learned while on vacation.

5. Judgement

You’ll have to be the bigger person here. As a culture we are too quick to judge – that person who parks in a handicap parking spot could have COPD or another invisible disability but we are quick to judge that they shouldn’t park there. That child melting – could have autism or be heading to or from visiting someone sick. That mom who appears to be ignoring her child acting up in the store might not have slept for days because her other child is ill or she is caring for her ill mother. YOU don’t know anything about them and they don’t know anything about you. So, be the bigger person and smile broadly at that horrible woman scowling at you from across the room and then IGNORE her. Who died and put her in charge anyway? How is it that she gets to dictate anything about you anyway? Why isn’t she concerned about how rude SHE is acting at the moment? Ask yourself, “Why do I care what she thinks?” Just do the best you can and move on.

You CAN travel with the kids and love it. Face YOUR fear.

Lose the fear: family fountain Istanbul hippodrome

I’d love to hear your experiences!

Happy family travels,

Natalie, The Educational Tourist

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36 Responses

  1. This is amazing. I won’t lie, having children gives me the fear that I would miss out on traveling as much. I see now that a lot families do it and it is very feasible. Gives me hope for the future!

    • NatalieTanner says:

      It is not only possible, but wonderful. You can see things through their eyes as well and it is really interesting what you will learn. Thanks for sharing your opinion.

  2. It’s really hard when you get used to travelling and then you suddenly have kids. Wanderlust just tends to drift away when you got more responsibilities. Travelling with kids can very daunting, that’s a given fact, but I never thought that it could really be a wonderful experience to share traveling with them thanks to this.

    • NatalieTanner says:

      Travel changes just like your life, but you can still do it! AND they aren’t little forever. Thanks for sharing your opinion.

  3. I have travelled with my friends kids before , a lot of consideration to look at if they get bored and grumpy on the road lots of drama but its all part of the experience i guess, but most of the time it’s fun to travel with kids

  4. I don’t actually have a travel fear, maybe seeing a someone mistreating an animal for tourism purposes. I just cant. Anyway, I’ve been reading and crossing a lot of articles and yours is one of the best I read for a while! Keep writing!

  5. I’ve always thought that I would stop traveling once I have my own kids but then I read all these amazing family travel blogs, like yours, and I am encouraged to do so. πŸ™‚ Thanks!

  6. Good post! Got my ears damaged, so yes, fear of children and noise is definately there! Not just while traveling though, will also be there at home πŸ˜‰

  7. I don’t have kids so I can’t comment on this from experience but what I can say is that one of the things that puts us off having them is our desire to travel. But with that said we hope to have them eventually and travel in a different way once we do, but for now we enjoy the freedom of not having them!!

    • NatalieTanner says:

      It’s all good – now and later! It will be amazing to share the experience with them just as it is to share the experience with each other. Enjoy sleeping in. πŸ˜‰

  8. Oyster says:

    Funny! It can be a bit scary, but you kinda gotta just let it go (oops now I got that song stuck in my head), kids will be kids and the rest of the world should just remember they were that annoying at one point in their lives!

  9. katie says:

    I so agree that people are scared to travel with kids. I remember when I was younger than really wanted to go to Italy,, but my parents didn’t want o bring my siblings because they were young and weren’t “ready yet”. This seems to be the mindset and I love how you are encouraging people to squash that!

  10. I really like this idea for a post – great one!

  11. I honestly have so much respect for anyone who travels with kids. I hope I can overcome it when I have them!

  12. Good for you! I am glad you manage to make it work πŸ™‚ Hopefully I can one day.

    • NatalieTanner says:

      You will and it will be fun. It is really interesting to see things through their eyes. Thanks for stopping by!

  13. kimberlyerind says:

    AHAH oops, I commented in the wrong spot! Like I said up there ahahaha mom and Dad always said that your kids are your best travel companions…I mean..who do you know better than your own kids.

  14. I have crossed a lot of traveling blog site so far, and I wouldn’t deny to say that your website is one of the most interesting, inspiration and educational one! Keep up!

  15. Great post! I love how many bloggers now prove it is possible to travel with a family πŸ™‚
    Simone x | The Aussie Flashpacker

  16. These are some great tips for those who are having trouble in facing their fears and traveling with kids… will be sending this to my sister in hopes of convincing her to bring my nephew on a trip to visit me!

  17. TheBohoChica says:

    I agree- your travels shouldn’t end when you have children. It always makes me happy to see so many people traveling, backpacking even with very young kids, it makes me think of how amazing a childhood they’re creating for their children. After all, travel is the best way to teach kids about culture, nature and tolerance and why would anyone miss out on that?!

    • NatalieTanner says:

      I couldn’t agree more! In addition to what travel gives the kids, it is a real treat to see things through their eyes. They have a whole different take on things! Thanks for sharing your opinion.

  18. I think you just have to leave your fears behind and give it a try. Don’t overthink everything, as it will make you even more nervous and this transfers on the kids… and then the drama begins. As long as you stay calm and relaxed, your kids will, too. (Most of the time πŸ˜‰
    And what’s more exciting than explore a place through children’s eyes? πŸ™‚

    • NatalieTanner says:

      I agree. It has been eye opening to get their perspective on things. You never know what will stick with them. πŸ™‚ Thanks for your thoughts.

  19. Sean says:

    I’ve met tons of people who travel with kids, of all ages. I know it’s definitely hard work, but almost all them wouldn’t miss the opportunity to travel with their kids and they can see the wonder of new places on the young faces. Definitely worth facing that fear!

  20. Ashlee says:

    This is so absolutely true. So many people also use their kids as excuses that they cannot travel, which is soooo wrong.

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