Screw the Kids. It’s all About Me.

 In Why Travel?

Wait until they are old enough to appreciate it.

They just don’t understand, so why would you bring them?

That’s a lot of money to waste on travel when they are so young.

The excuses and advice go on and on. When will people wake up and realize that I do not travel for my kids?

Let me say that again.

My travels are not solely for my children’s benefit. It’s all about me.

Yes, I am a very, very selfish mother. When I think of where we should travel next, I don’t think about what fabulous amusement park, playground or zoo there is. I think about what I have always wanted to see and then I book it. Oh sure, I check with my husband first to see if he has any interest in the spot, but when we decided to go to Kyoto, Japan, I didn’t get down to Dek’s level at 20 months old and say, “sweetie, what do you think. Do you want to have some sushi, yakitori and see lots of temples and shrines?” No. I just booked our tickets and packed him up to come along for the ride.

My boys are young. They are easily entertained. They don’t have opinions beyond “I’m bored,” “I’m hungry” and “I’m tired. I do realize that as they get older, and especially when they are teenagers, they will want to pick out where we go next. Heck, they may not want to go anywhere at all. I’ve accepted this (sort of) and plan on using the years that they are just happy to be with us to cross off all of the spots I have always wanted to go.

Does that make me selfish? Who cares.


As my boys get older and express an interest in certain things, I naturally try to find ways to keep them entertained while we explore cathedrals, shrines and old neighborhoods. We do stop at playgrounds and gape at trains. Naturally we pack a few toys. We still go where my husband and I want to go, no matter how many time zones and days of jet lag it takes. We have all survived plenty of flights and time changes. We will continue to do so.

Why don’t we leave them at home?

Unfortunately leaving my boys at home isn’t a luxury we can afford. Our families live on the other side of the country and they all work full time. Plus, I actually do like traveling with my kids. Each new destination opens their eyes (and mine) to the wonders our world holds. They see things I would never see without them. They find the most mundane things interesting, which makes it interesting to me too. Best of all, Dek gets to eat ice cream and gelato when we travel; the look on his face is worth more than a thousand words each time he takes his first lick.

Is it expensive to bring them along? Of course! As each of my boys turn 2 years old I have to add another plane ticket to our budget. That money adds up quick. Is it worth it? Yes! We may have to fly a little less in the coming years, but that won’t make our travels any less meaningful or memorable.

But they won’t remember any of it!

This is the worst excuse in the history of the world. First of all, I will remember it. Me. The mom who planned and paid for the trip she wanted to take. Does Dek remember walking on the Great Wall of China? No. I do and let me tell you that is one powerful memory I still hold onto.

The other thing to keep in mind is that your children remember and learn from more than you think. My boys may not remember every moment, but they know how to behave in hotels (whether they choose to do so is a toss up), be good airplane passengers (let’s not get into how bad some adults are), and use chopsticks. Dek learned the words lizard, volcano and boogie board while we were in Hawaii when he was two years old. He still brings up memories of trips we took one and even two years ago. These are things that I don’t remember telling him about repeatedly, just random bits he has held onto. If that’s not remembering it than I don’t know what is.


They won’t appreciate it

Let me ask you this, did you appreciate every museum your parents made you visit? What about every mountain they forced you to hike up? Probably not. When you look back do you appreciate it now? Possibly. I know I do am grateful for the many mountains, camping experiences, museum trips and concerts my parents took me to, willingly or not.

My boys do appreciate when they travel with us. They get uninterrupted time with mom, and especially dad who is at work all day and they rarely see some weeks because of his schedule. These are precious bonding moments. These are memories I’m making for them and they are building into their mental scrapbooks as well.

So yes, I’m a selfish mom who really doesn’t care where her kids want to go or how horrible the jet lag is on my kids and me. I’ll continue to book trips to the places I love, not Sesame Place every year. I have succumbed to the fact that I do have LEGO loving boys and we will be going to LEGOLAND one day. I can’t wait! I’ll be hopping over to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for a butterbeer. Plus LEGOs are pretty awesome. Do you know how many hours they can occupy a 4-year-old? It’s amazing!

What other excuses do you have for me about why I shouldn’t travel, or why you aren’t traveling with your kids? I’d love to hear them. I bet I have a selfish reply for you that will knock your socks off.

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Showing 47 comments
  • rebecca

    I am in your boat of thinking. We have an almost two year old and another one on the way. In his short life, our little one has racked up over 70,000 miles flying around the world and has visited almost every continent.
    Travelling with him is tricky at times, but he’s such an easy going kid and so easy to adjust to new things that I definitely have travelling to thank for that. He doesn’t need to have the exact same toy to sleep with, the same bed to sleep in, the same car seat to sit in or the same environment to feel comfortable. As long as me and/or my husband are around, he’s a happy camper. I’d rather not have those 3am running-around-a-hotel-in-Singapore or true meltdown in the middle of an airport moment, but I will happily endure those knowing he will experience so many things many people dream about doing.
    We’ve even taken to noting a lot of his firsts through travels – first time he rolled over, first tooth broken, first steps taken, etc…what a great way to have those memories!

  • Bronwen

    This is such a good point, and oddly one I never thought of before! I always think about how my kids won’t remember things we are doing now, but how true that *I* will remember it and that will be a wonderful memory for me. Thanks for admitting it’s okay to be selfish! Love it.

  • Desiree @DesireeMiller

    So many great points here…thank you! I’ve met your adorable oldest and he rocks–I’m certain it’s because his life rocks, and that’s partly because he sees these amazing things with you. Keep on travelin’ to those great places and your kids will turn out just fine, no matter how ‘selfish’ it makes you. 🙂

  • Andrea Fellman

    YES and YES! Our kids both had their passports when they were babies and my son took some of his first steps on the cobblestone streets of Barcelona Spain, and we have video of it! I also changed his diaper right on those streets when I couldn’t find a bathroom – those are memories I will never forget. We also have video of them on the beaches of Costa Rica and my son seeing an Iguana for the first time and pointing at it and saying “Dinosaur” – anther memory I will never forget! I believe they will remember some how and some way, especially when you can look back at photos or videos and re-live the memories all over again! It is no different from say little girls remembering baking cookies with their grandma or boys going fishing with their Dad. Loved this post. Our gift to our kids is “to show them the world” and I can’t think of a better thing to spend my money on.

    • Keryn Means

      LOVE it Andrea!!!

  • Lance | Trips By Lance

    I might just steal this! I couldn’t say this better. Seriously, I agree with all of this. We don’t travel to amusement parks and the like because WE don’t want to go there. I don’t really care what destinations my son wants to visit. Yes, we try to find activities he will enjoy. But we don’t pick where we go because of him.

  • Val in Real LIfe

    You’ve nailed it. No, your kids won’t be able to write you a term paper on the places you’ve been but they are learning and growing in a way that wouldn’t be possible in an insular environment at home. And as they get older, they’ll have opinions about when and where you go. You can start to factor their desires in when the time comes. You’re doing yourself and them a great service by showing that your needs and wants are just as important as theirs. Kudos! 🙂

  • Franca

    I don’t have kids yet but I often think how my travelling style would change if and when I’ll have some… I totally agree with what you are saying here 🙂

    • Keryn Means

      Thanks Franca! Travel will change no matter what with your kids, but it is your choice whether you will let it stop you, or if you will just adjust and keep going.

  • Deia @ Nomad Wallet

    I love this. I see so many parents lose themselves in parenthood because they make their lives all about their kids. I think it’s awesome that you’re selfish. It keeps you sane!

  • paula gardner

    I’m a little further on from you in that my kids are teenagers now. I definitely think at least two of them have got the travel bug from me and I’m overjoyed. Mind you, it has now got to the place where I stop and think “No, I can’t take you there because it’s somewhere you need to discover on your own travels. “

    • Keryn Means

      Paula I do dream about those days when my boys will want to go off on their own or I send them into the world for them to come back to tell me about their own adventures. Then again, at 2 and 4, the idea does terrify me a bit. I still can’t believe my boys will be men one day!

  • Erin Bender (Explore with Erin)

    I love this. I don’t know what else to say. But if you get any backlash, I have your back – go girl!

    • Keryn Means

      Thanks for having my back Erin!

  • Molley@A Mother Life

    Awesome! We too have always travelled with our children! They adapt and now at 13 and 10 they love to roam the world and see new things. I can see them setting off on their own adventures before setting down to life in their 20’s and I can’t wait! After our last trip to Ireland they both want o go back and work there some day!

  • eileen @familiesgo

    I totally agree! if you only takes kids to “kid-friendly” places, attractions, hotels and restaurants, how will they learn to appreciate and behave properly anywhere else? My now 6Yo probably didn’t LOVE quebec and Lake Placid as much as she did Disney World and the beach resorts we visit in winter, but she she found stuff to and ways to appreciate what we were doing on her own level. Sometimes it surprises you what kids like and you should give them the opportunity to surprise you!

    PS. Love the pic by the NYU library up top. Go Violets! 🙂

    • Keryn Means

      So glad I am not alone in my thinking Eileen. My oldest is terrified of people in costumes, so Disney is still a long way off for us. Right now I’m lucky that my boys are just happy to hang with their mom and dad, no matter where in the world. If they get to swim, all the better!

  • SY

    So love this post, albeit a bit late on the commenting 🙂 My boys are 10.5 and 13 years old and I completely agree with your philosophy. My husband and I love to travel, in fact it was one of our first interests we discovered we had in common. We both came into our marriage covering most continents and agreed that if we could afford it we would travel with our kids. At the time my first was born I was working for a French company, so I was traveling to Europe and Asia quite a bit. At 3 months old, we strapped him into the Baby Bjorn and took him with us to a business meeting in Paris and then over to a family reunion in Switzerland. Since then, my boys have been all over the U.S and Canada. numerous countries in Europe, and we are starting to venture into Asia more. Our belief is that although our boys won’t have exact memories of every trip, they do have some of the more recent trips, they have learned to adapt to crazy travel, accept other cultures, and as you said, they do learn travel etiquette…also, the travel is for my husband and I, we tend to have a bit of wanderlust in us, there is nothing better than snorkeling in Hawaii so that they can show me their latest turtle discovery, swimming at night in Lago Maggiore, or simply driving for less than 2 hours to hike in Lake Tahoe. Can’t wait to see what your next adventure is, we’re off to Italy and Switzerland this summer and the kids can’t wait for the adventure. We always say, we might not have the greatest furniture and our house needs some repairs, but we sure have some great memories with our kids.

    • Keryn Means

      Thanks so much Sandra! It is never too late to comment 🙂 You are giving me hope that this insanity I seem to be suffering for wanting to travel with my boys is normal, and possible even into their teens. Have an amazing time in Italy and Switzerland. We did those two countries in 2012 when Ty was 5 months old and Dek was 3 years old. It was so much fun, but lots of work. Worth every tear!

  • JAK

    Hi Keryn, I just discovered your blog and impressed while also wondering a bit about your mission. I am a SAHM that has put my career (corporate atty) on hold the last five years while raising my six year old son. Travel has been a hobby of mine since I could travel on my own at 18. I lust to have my old life back again. But, quite frankly, as I sit at playgrounds, playdates, school, sport events, and see how many families are running their kids ragged I lean to simplicity and consistency. I have chosen to put my old life on hold so I can completely focus on the needs and desires of my son during this very short window in my life. One of my best friends just had her first child and use to judge me for not traveling with my son more. Now, she gets it. No baby, toddler, preschooler wants to be on a plane for 5+ hour or even strapped in a car for more than an hour. Although I certainly respect your own way of living — help me to understand how you reconcile your needs while meeting your child’s needs. Like you, I believe the rest of the world should accept seeing children in nearly every place on the planet including airplanes, museums, and fancy restaurants. But, I am more interested in raising a young child that has ample time (hours) every day of free play, consistent meals, and minimal stress. How do you balance your desires and adventures with your young child’s need to just want to be at the park? I mean a toddler is amused by lint. Why not encourage parents to do more adventures locally until they are older so the whole family doesn’t have to suffer from heightened stress while traveling? Saying all of this, my son has about a dozen domestic flights under his belt, been in a helicopter, limo, cruise ship, and traveled to Canada three times from Seattle. So, I don’t feel I am sheltering him and I keep my sanity by working out and taking him camping, hiking, and local destinations regularly. I have now put Costa Rica and Italy on our calendar next year and Asia two years from now. But again, I am waiting until my son is a bit more interested and isn’t so stressed out by international travel, foreign foods, different surroundings, etc. I have other SAHM friends and we talk about the amount of mommy travel bloggers that insist you can do it all and “take them along for the ride” at nearly all costs…but I ask why? Where is this mission really coming from? I do believe children learn a tremendous amount while traveling, but under the age of five I don’t see much value. I would love to travel more with my son and encourage new parents to do so, but I can’t justify the tears they and their child will go through to get to their destination. Then, to only be strapped to a hotel room part of the day or more for naps, diaper changes, meltdowns, etc while you look at outside within arms reach of all the places you want to go to. I can’t tell you how many times I hear from parents they regret their trip to Europe or Hawaii because they were “stuck” on their child’s schedule. I feel a local hotel or camping spot is just a big enough adventure for a little one without all the pain of getting there and they will enjoy a more kid friendly destination. Maybe one big trip a year, but several adventures a month even locally I think is too much for a little one. You are my first blog to pose this question. I have read several mommy travel blogs (including one that I know personally) and many share the tears (and joys) of travel. Does the joy really outweigh all the tears? I am open to hearing your perspective and would love to look at this differently since many of us talk about many of you (mommy travel bloggers) on the playground and I do feel we are a bit divided. Sorry for the very long comment. But, all ears…

    • Keryn Means

      Hi JAK,
      Thanks for the comment, no matter how long!
      I can see where you are coming from, as I have many friends who have put their lives on hold as they wait for their children to grow up. For me, travel was never a choice. My entire family, and my husband’s family live on the east coast, while we live on the west coast. Either way my kids are getting on a plane for 6+ hours a few times a year so they can know their grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. When I worked full time my job brought me to Asia several times. I either needed to bring my family or I would miss out on week’s of my son’s life. That was simply not an option for me.

      From a very early age my sons learned what it was like to be on a plane for a day or in the car for a few hours. Honestly, I would always rather fly with my boys because at least they can get up and stretch. I hate being in the car for long hours, although visiting friends and family does require it sometimes.

      I also see parenting on the flip side of most people. I see parents running their kids to school, sports, art classes and activities and it is exhausting just to watch, much less do. The kids don’t have enough time to play, and the parents have no time to actually enjoy their children. My boys have preschool and one activity a season that they do. The rest is just free time for us to go to the park, head out to the mountains, or hop on a plane to explore.

      Yes, toddlers can be entertained by a piece of lint, but I can’t. I’m a better mother because I travel. I am more active when I am exploring something knew with my kids. We go to parks across the globe and across the city. I’m perfectly content climbing the mountains of Switzerland so I can visit my best friend and play with her kids, while also hiking around Mount Baker with our local friends. Sometimes this means the youngest sleeps in the car, a stroller or a baby carrier. He is used to it and content just to be with us.

      Travel makes me a less stressed out parent, which leads to my less stressed out kids. Jet lag is one of the only negative effects I have ever experienced with my boys. I still deal with tantrums, naps, food needs, etc. while on the road. I chose to accept that I may not be able to see it all in a new location, but at least I can see some of it. If my toddler has to sleep in the stroller one day while we tour around a city, or he misses a nap, he will be OK. He still naps just fine the next day and sleeps at night. My children are used to this lifestyle and my 5 year old often asks where we are going next. I take his interests into account on our trips now that he actually has an opinion. His baby brother is happiest when he is at an airport and can see all of the planes.

      Yes, when they are little, babies and toddler might not retain everything that they have seen, but they are being exposed to things outside of their home and backyard, which will make it easier to adjust later, or make them curious about what else is out there. I’ve seen my oldest’s vocabulary grow and he is picking up languages more quickly because of the languages he is exposed to during our travels. He is not learning these languages through drills in a classroom or chaotic song and dance classes; he is learning it in a low-key, manageable form. Both kids eat things their peers would never look twice at, although I will say you can find peanut butter, bread and milk most places we have visited, which always makes my youngest happy.

      I guess to sum things up– yes, every tear (usually mine) is worth the joy of travel. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. My boys are going to go outside and explore no matter where we are, I just pick the backdrop. When we travel they get my undivided attention. They get 100% of me, not whatever percentage is left while I’m trying to make dinner, do the dishes, clean up spilled milk, or pay bills.

      As for local adventures, I always try to encourage new parents, and even seasoned parents, to explore in any way they can. Not everyone can travel internationally, whether due to finances or lifestyle choices. Even if you just try a new restaurant that opened up down the block, you are still giving your kids something new to experience and enjoy along with you. For me the key is always doing things together, no matter how near or far. Are my kids better or worse off than kids who stick close to home most weeks? I don’t think so. They play well with all of their friends, and are eating and sleeping just fine at home. When it comes to our travels, it’s more about what I want to take on and less about what stresses them out these days. They seem to be up for just about anything no matter how big or small, which does make me one lucky mama.

      Let me know if you have any more questions. I’m happy to talk about them as this is something I am very passionate about.

      Have a great night! Keryn

    • Jennifer

      HI there, JAK — another frequent traveler here. I know lots (seriously, tons) of parents just like you, in fact, most of the parents I know who enjoy traveling share similar sentiments. Keryn already responded in a really honest way, and I’m just chiming in to say that there is a wide spectrum of “okay” parenting, from not traveling at all to being nomadic while raising children. Kids are so varying (even or especially siblings) and it’s all okay. One of the most important aspects of parenting that leads to happy kids to teens to adults is…happy parents. Sure, we can talk about how being world-traveled leads to children developing tolerance and a wider world view for what is acceptable human behavior, culturally, but to be frank, tolerance isn’t at the top of every parent’s list of traits they want for their kids. Sady. But being HAPPY is. And Keryn, and I, are happiest when exposing our kids to different parts of the country and the world. This happiness is reflected back to us. Not that my kids are all grown up, but mine are older than Keryns, and I can see that my two teenagers are well on their way to being happy well-adjusted adults. The most important thing. 🙂

    • Lisa {Gone with the Family}

      Hi JAK,
      I also blog about family travel but I came to it when my children were much older than Keryn’s – my daughters are 17 and 10 and I started blogging 3.5 years ago although we travelled with the girls to some extent from the time that they were infants. I was in a similar position to you many years ago when I put my career as a lawyer on hold in order to be a stay-at-home mom to my older daughter – although that was 17 years ago and I never did go back! I had no difficulty putting my career on hold but I couldn’t bear to put my life on hold and stop travelling just because I had become a mother. Travelling brings me great joy and I think I would have been a very unhappy mother if I had not been able to get away from time to time. I also think that my children have gained a great deal from the experience of travelling from a young age – they are both flexible, curious about the world and, in my older daughter’s case, fearless about travelling the world on her own. She travelled alone for the first time at 15 and was able to get herself from Toronto to St. Andrews, Scotland completely on her own. She has also travelled with school groups to Ecuador and Costa Rica and has no plans to stop travelling as she heads off to university – she’s already planning a semester abroad. Travel has also been of huge benefit to their education – seeing something in person brings a lesson home like a textbook never can.

      I do believe that every family is different, however, and what’s important is to do what works for your family. In our case, that has meant only travelling during school vacations or on weekend trips. We also only travelled within Canada, the U.S. and the Caribbean until my younger daughter was 6 and then we went to Europe for the first time – because I was worried that I couldn’t handle it. Our family’s travel has also changed as we have gone through different stages in their lives when activities at home have had to take priority over travel.

      I recognize that I have been lucky as my girls were both good travellers as young children and perhaps I would have been hesitant to take them if there had been more bad and less good but there has truly been far more joy than tears on our trips especially when the kids were younger. Travelling with a teenager is a whole different story though! 😉 Ultimately the decision on how often and how far to travel is a very personal one for each family but I can tell you that the longer you wait, the fewer opportunities there will be to travel with your son. My daughter leaves for university in two weeks and it honestly seems like the blink of an eye since we took her on those first trips and worried about whether she would cry and bother people on the plane or what she would eat or whether she would sleep. And I don’t regret a single trip that we have taken – in fact, I wish there had been time for more.

    • Hilarye

      My kids (ages 4, 2 and 0) get more excited to travel than I do! Seriously! They love airplanes so much that airplanes, and airport scenarios make up most of their imaginative plays. I guess you would consider me a mommy travel blogger (although I have never even thought of using that term when describing myself until now), and travel is just a passion for our entire family. My husband worked for the airlines when my first daughter was born and she had been on over 70 flights by the time she was one years old. I’m not here to convert you on our ways because the last thing we need are any more mommy wars : ) I’m just here to say what works for us may not work for you and that’s cool! But I will say this- I can justify the travel under age 5. I absolutely can. And I will. It has been a beautiful thing for us to travel to different countries, experience new cultures together as a family and create memories I wouldn’t trade for anything and guess what my now almost five year old remembers so many trips we took together when she was 2.5 and 3. We have never once (and never will) regret a trip to Hawaii- kids or not! I’m going to be with my kids anyways- might as well be somewhere awesome! But that being said I totally get why other people do and don’t decide to travel with their kids until they are older. Personal choices!

    • Jessica

      JAK, I am also a crazy travel mama with a travel blog, so my bias is probably pretty obvious just from that, but I also think I have a sightly different perspective. I have four kids ranging from 13-5, so if I waited until they were all old enough to appreciate travel, I would be waiting a long time. I also have a child who is on the autism spectrum, so all travel is stressful for him. I have definitely weighed the pros and cons of whether travel is worth it for him and all of us, and I have come to the conclusion that it is! I think all people having “something” that they are willing to pay any price to have. For some it is travel, for some it is children, for some it is career. Those things are our passions. They are what make us feel like our true selves. And they are worth any price.

      For many of us traveling moms, we have weighed the cost and decided that the benefit of travel for ourselves and our kids outweigh the drawbacks. But that doesn’t mean that you will weigh the cost and find the same value. Personally, I don’t find traveling with kids to be any more stressful than just living with kids. It all has varying levels of stress, but with travel, at least I am doing something that makes me feel alive and also contributes to teaching my children valuable life lessons.

    • Rachael (Nothing if Not Intentional)

      I definitely see both sides! So far (with a two-year-old and a three-year-old), we’ve decided to hold off on any big, across-the-ocean trips. I’m obsessed with sleep, and my girls’ sleep schedule, so I’m (selfishly) not eager to try those big time changes. 😉 But my husband is a corporate pilot, so we fly with him on occasion. Plus, we take “big” commercial trips (e.g. Guatemala, Mexico, Jamaica, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, all parts of the U.S.) five or six times a year. Just today I was talking with my three-year-old (almost four) about how her grandma is a doctor. I asked if she wants to be a doctor too, and her quick response was, “No, I want to be a pilot just like daddy. I want to fly airplanes.” Of course it’s likely that she’ll change her mind, but she’s crazy about airplanes and flying (and has been for at least a year). She regularly asks me when we’re going to take another trip. She loves taking trips!

      A lot of our travels are with my parents. I know they won’t always be healthy enough to “travel the world,” so I’m happy to join them when they ask because it’s great family bonding time!

      Also, another personal issue for me is that we’re in a part of the country that’s not particularly diverse. I feel like it would be unfair to my girls to only see our white-bread, middle class America just because we’ve chosen to live in the Midwest near family.

    • Andrea (Passports and Pushchairs)

      Hi Jak!

      Also another frequent traveler with kids here, and just wanted to throw in my two cents. We have two kids, who were born in different countries, and my husband and I are from different countries. We would have to travel even if we didn’t like it, for 8 plus hours on a plane, to see family, but the truth is we enjoy it. Our kids lose a day of their lives in traveling, and they have been doing it since they were born, so they are used to it, whether it be sitting on a plane for 8 plus hours or sitting in a car.

      I grew up with parents who came from a small town, and decided early on they wanted to show us the world. Why? Because there is so much more to learning and life than the city we live in. We grew up exposed to various cultures, to different languages, to different lifestyles. I will forever be indebted to my parents for choosing to do this. And my husband and I decided early on to do the same thing.

      The truth is that our kids are kids no matter where they are – if they are playing on a playground in Spain, or rockpooling in England, or exploring a city in Portugal, or a Christmas market in Belgium. They find things that excite them, a playground, or chasing a pigeon or whatever, and they do it. Why not give them the opportunity to do the things they would normally do at home (and then some) in other countries? Why not show them how much more to the world there is than the neighborhood we live in and the people we see every day? We are going to parent no matter what city, state or country we are in, so we may as well do it while exploring the world, right?

      It works for our family. It may not work for all families. But I would hate to discount the opportunity to do so just because it isn’t the norm!

    • Jenna

      JAK and Keryn,

      I can completely relate to both of you and think there is absolutely no right or wrong answer here! Every family, child, situation is different. I’m writing this from a trip in which I have had to put up with a lot of whining, crying, and annoying sleep changes from my two kids. I also recently wrote about the “truth of traveling with kids” because it is NOT easy for me to travel with mine. I do it, and we have fun, but it’s not easy. And we love to be at home, too. JAK, I honestly think that if you are comfortable doing what you’re doing, then do it. Keryn obviously has thought long and hard about her choices and is OK with those, too. I like a mix–we stay at home a lot, discover local places, do some low-key regional travel, and take some big trips, mostly to see family. All choices have their plusses.

    • Ann

      Different strokes for different folks!

      My kids are 1 and 3. I don’t know what I would do if they truly resisted any travel, as it is they love airplanes, hotels, even museums. They love different playgrounds and children’s museums. For the most part, different foods don’t phase them. They’re just as likely to not want the food at a restaurant as they are to want something I cook at home. (But, I don’t cater my meals to things people think of as child-friendly, they eat what we eat.) They aren’t too fond of some of the sight-seeing we do, but they also hate going to the grocery store. They don’t cry because we’re out of what other people would consider their comfort zone. They do cry when they don’t want to go to sleep (at home, at a hotel, doesn’t matter) or they don’t get a toy they want or other random things, but I don’t let that stop me from having them go to sleep, not give them the toy or whatever.

      The viewpoint that I’m sitting in a hotel room at arms-length of a destination while my kids rest is interesting. I don’t have that perspective at all when I travel. I was in Berlin when my son had just turned 2 and my daughter was 3.5 months old. We were inside the hotel early and I thought of how life had changed. I didn’t feel stuck. I don’t feel stuck. I feel liberated. We’re also up earlier than I’ve ever was pre-kids and I get to see the city waking up. It’s pretty cool. I’m glad that I share my passion with my two favorite people (three including my husband! 😉 )When they’re resting, I read, write, whatever. Sure, I can do that at home – but I don’t have to.

      I do think travel is pretty high on the simple scale. People can make it complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. The more I do it the easier it gets. They’re 3 and 1. We’ve done it enough that it’s no longer a source of stress for us. We started when they were little babies, so they didn’t forgo playground time for it. Now they both love it. Holding off until kids are older won’t necessarily reduce the stress, it’s getting them used to it that will. (Side note: yes, airports aren’t the simplest experience out there, but if we’re going to do it anyway might as well do it for a longer flight! And the kids are like their moms in this, they love airports and airplanes.)

      As for “doing it all” – obviously no one can actually have it all. It’s all about choices and priorities. My priorities are my children. When we can, I share my passion for travel with them. Just like people who, say, surf or take photos might share that passion with their kids at a young age. There are other things in life I don’t do that I did pre-kids. When they get older and I have more time, maybe I’ll go back to it, I don’t know. Right now this is the choice I make.

      I don’t think everyone or anyone needs to travel with their kids. I do think that if you want to, you shouldn’t let playground talk about it stop you. I also think that you can define travel how you want to. It doesn’t have to be to another continent, it doesn’t have to require a flight. And if you don’t like it, don’t do it.

    • Sharon @ Where's Sharon

      I also travel with young kids (currently 2 and 4) and am also a travel blogger. I really don’t understand your assumption that kids dont like being on long flights or travelling. We live in Australia and have flown all the way to the US and Caribbean as well as Asia multiple times. My kids love it and ask to go again and again. My four year old will randomly talk about things from a trip when she was 2 and about how much she loved certain stuff. She actually does remember it (at least for now) and keeps asking when we are having the next trip. I fact the two of us just flew 7.5 hours each way to Singapore for 5 days. It was truly one of the best weeks in both of our lives.

      I think if people regret going to Europe because of being on the kids schedule, they have taken the wrong approach. Our trips are always on the kids schedule. We wouldn’t want it any other way. It is still amazing.

      It is not for everyone, but it is certainly something that young kids can enjoy as much as the adults, if not more.

    • Nichola (Globalmouse Travels)

      Hi Jak,

      I wanted to get in touch too. I am a blogger from the UK and it’s much more common here for people to travel with their kids. I have lots of friends in the US who don’t however. Over here it’s very common to escape the rain with a short hop over to Greece or Spain or Italy for a couple of weeks, or even a weekend away. I have 3 children – 2, 5 and 7 and they absolutely love to travel. We also travel much further field than Europe and there are not many places off bounds – we’ve just returned from Russia which was declared the best trip ever (although they usually say that after each place they’ve been) where they have visited playgrounds and water parks as well as palaces and museums. But you know the best bit? Watching them play with a little Russian boy in a park. They couldn’t speak the same language and could only communicate through play but they talk about him often now…that is what they think of when they think of Russia – the friendly people and the fun times we had exploring as a family.

      I guess my main point is that kids are quite adaptable – they generally will happily plod along and see whatever you’re happy to show them. I believe it’s best to start travelling as soon as you can – the world is one big playground and full of fun to learn from and discover!

    • SJ @ Chasing the Donkey

      HI Jak, I take my now 2-year old son with us whenever we go. Including a long-haul flight at 9 months old. We travel loads also (every few weeks) and he loves it. He gets time at the park, beach, play gym or whatever he likes when we get to a place, and he gets to see, hear and taste new things. He also gets to meet new people often, which helps his self confidence. My two year old is very patient, much more than his peers and I wonder if its because of travel. Eg: he has to be in his car seat longer then going to and from the shops. I never got to go on any holidays with my family when I was younger, not taking my first trip till was 19, and I was always so envious of my peers who got to see and do new things – maybe you can look at it that way for your child?

  • Amanda @ MarocMama

    Yes!!!! This is so amazing and so true of how we live our life. I still remember my mom telling me after my first son was born “Amanda he’s a child not an accessory, you can’t just take him wherever you go!” But the reality was travel was going to be and still is a vital and important part of our lives. Sure they don’t remember everything but they have an amazing worldview!! Things are more meaningful to them, they can relate to places and ideas they would have no connection to if we hadn’t traveled. Keep it up!

  • Corine

    I agree with all of your points.

    We have 3 kids (ages 9,6 and 9 months). Our oldest two both have been flying and traveling since 6months old and they are excellent travelers. We went to hawaii with them twice. Did the road to Hana (they were 7, and 4) and while they may not remember it, they enjoyed it. And have learned to enjoy more than the amusement parks (which we of course go to also).

    Next week we are flying cross country with all three to do a roadtrip along the pacific coast highway. People think we are crazy. I’m not going to lie, the baby is a wild card and it makes me a little nervous but I’m not going to let it stop our family adventures 🙂

  • Sharlene

    Hi JAK-

    I didn’t grow up traveling. But every trip I did take as a child left a lasting hunger for more. When I became pregnant with twins, I was forced to be on bedrest the majority of my pregnancy. It was hell. Once the babies were born, all I wanted to do was explore with them. Most trips in the beginning were local but sometimes I wanted to see things further away so that is where we went. When my kids were two, I decided I want to visit my friend in Calgary (I live in California) so I planned out a nearly month long road trip to Calgary and back. My husband was only able to join me the last week of the trip. Was it hard to travel solo with two toddlers? Yes! But the alternative was staying home and that was just not a good alternative for me. When we pulled into our driveway at the end of the trip, my son burst into tears. He didn’t want to go home. He didn’t want the journey to end. My family travels often. Sometime close by. Sometimes half a world away. All the travel has made my children extremely confident, tolerant of both people and circumstances, adventurous, excellent eaters, and keenly aware that rest of the world (or the country for that matter) does not look like little piece of the planet our town occupies. And while it is true that my husband and I could easily save money by going it alone on some of these trips and dropping the kids off at grandma’s (and believe me, sometimes we do), we truly look forward to the family bonding and quality that we get in no better way than when we are traveling. I hope that helps answer your question on why some of us choose to travel similarly to Keryn.

  • Any

    I have 4 children, ages 7, 5, 3.5, and 9 months. We moved from Texas to Norway and then Norway to Paris, France. We know these assignments are temporary so we are making the most of it. It is always crazy traveling with 4 young children, but it is amazing to see them taking in a new place.
    Since moving overseas we have flown to Venice, Paris (before we lived here), driven to Zurich and Barcelona, and more day trips and Chateaux than I can count. We haven’t been to Disney Paris yet, but we will before we leave Paris.
    We fly home once a year to see family, and those trips are a lot of work, but my kids have done amazingly well in them.
    Traveling with children is not for everyone, but I am thankful I have an adventurous husband and a family I love spending time with.
    I lived in Enhland as a child, my dad was in the Air Force, and I do think travel experiences when you are young give you a different view of life. Then again, travel at any age can change you if you let it.

  • JAK

    Wow! How refreshing — that for my first comment on a blog could actually be a constructive open forum. I greatly appreciate all of your replies and many points I could resonate with. Thank you Keryn for sharing your family travels with us online. And, I do think it’s wonderful that you get the support for the adventurous life you lead as a Mom. I am especially not wanting another mommy’s war, although I think that ship may have passed. In my world, this is a very common (often divisive) topic. So, I am grateful for all of your replies and perspectives. It has softened me a bit to understand your point of view and that is what I am most interested in — is that we all respect each other’s way of parenting. I think what’s hard is there are so many mommy travel bloggers taking center stage that you don’t hear other perspectives of parenting as much. It seems that most mommy travel bloggers tend to write about the glamour of travel and not the truths as well. So, a lot of us on the sidelines feel inferior and when a few of us attempt to jump on board it is rarely with great success and then we realize there is another side to traveling with a young child. Sure, there are many joyous moments. All the kids I know would love to be in a new hotel, airport, new park, and maybe a museum or too. But, most of us think of vacation as an exceptionally special time that hopefully is overall joyous and possibly a relaxing, bonding time. Not, just the realisms of life with a different landscape. I think most of us aren’t willing to sacrifice the amount of money and time to live our often unpredictable day with our young child in a different locale. BUT, I can tell many of you are willing and for that I say kudos to you and “go for it!” Truly, I think it is important we live in a diverse world with many perspectives. I just hope if others are listening that we can all share the truths of our chosen ways and be respectful and supportive. Thank you for this forum. I look forward to reading more mommy travel blogs and following Keryn especially since she is in my “backyard.” Cheers to you all!

    • Keryn Means

      I totally agree with you JAK. There is no ONE parenting style that can fit all. Those of us who have chosen to live a life filled with travel certainly have our ups and downs, and I do know we don’t always show that. I do try to show the good and bad sides of traveling with kids (my post “Worst Night of My Life Swiss Edition” comes to mind), but above all, those of us in the family travel blogger niche do want to encourage people and show that it doesn’t have to be all poopy diapers and screaming. There are joyful moments too, just like at home. For those of us who travel a lot, and given what you have said about your own travels with your son, I would say you travel a decent amount compared to many other families, we have figured out how to get through the bigger hurtles of travel so we can have a relaxing and joyous time. The problem I often see with families who aren’t satisfied with travel with their kids is that when they are on vacation they think life will get easier, and somehow all of the stress of parenting will go away. Until your kid leaves the house you will still be an active parent. That will never go away. The sooner families who dream of traveling accept that and embrace it, the better off they will be and the more fun they will have. It’s all about adjusting expectations. If that isn’t worth their time and money that is OK. Traveling with kids isn’t for everyone. Like I tell my friends, I will never be a Pinterest mom. My baking is average and I do not throw epic birthday parties. My crafty friends make it look so easy, but it really isn’t and I have no desire to get good at it. That’s just not who I am. I’d rather bring my kids back to Europe than throw the best Pirate party the Seattle area has ever seen 🙂 Do I think the moms that can do all of that are above or below me? Heck no! We just have different interests, and again, that is OK.
      Thanks for kicking off this fabulous discussion. It really does show that we all come from different places. Please let your other playground mom friends know that they are welcome to chime in as well. This blog is a no judge zone. Yes, I would love to encourage people who are hesitant to travel, but it is OK if they aren’t ready or aren’t interested either.
      Have a great day and keep exploring with your own little guy anyway you see fit. I hear there is a cool new(ish) splash zone in Bothell. Maybe we will see you there this summer!

  • Sarah @ A Week at the Beach

    I couldn’t have said it better myself! Traveling with your children’s gives THEM an opportunity to see YOU in a new light. When we’re on the road we’re totally focused on one another, exploring together, laughing a lot along the way. When compared to the “normal” ebb and flow of life, activities, school, work, our travels are more light and free-spirited. Travel is something my husband and I both love and have always made time for, and a passion we have come to love sharing with our children. Yes of course it’s difficult at times, especially when the kids are very young, and yes, I’d probably have a new sofa in the living room by now if we didn’t travel so much, but the family memories we’ve made on the road, and will continue to make, are precious for each member of our family. If the kids absolutely hated it, I’d have to reconsider of course, but thankfully that’s not the case:)

  • Kristine Dworkin

    My kids and I have always been a moving force of nature. Both were on planes before they were 6 months old. We are always off doing something, seeing something, experiencing something. My mom has asked me on more than one occasion, “Can’t you stay home for a change? ”

    And to that, I say, “Why?”

    My kids have been to Diwali festivals. They like jazz music. They have parasailed and ziplined. They have seen how other kids live in other countries. They have tried foods other than chicken nuggets, cheese pizza and mac and cheese. The result, they have friends from an array of backgrounds and ethnicities and they have an understanding of the world that a lot of kids don’t. They are pushing past boundaries, they learning and they don’t know it —- and it is awesome!

  • Karen Dawkins

    My kids are much older, now 20, 17 and 10. I can speak from the other end on the benefits of travel with kids:
    1. It’s not about the memories or even the destination, but about the time together. My 20 year old is honestly sad that he’s going to age out of family vacations soon. Life, work schedules, adult responsibilities mean he won’t be able to venture out all the time. Honestly, that makes me a little sad too… but I’m glad for 20 years of time. And our relationship. And the fact that he still trusts us ahead of peers, social media and other adults.
    2. Kids who travel understand that the world is big. Not just the geography, but the culture! When we were in China, my tow-headed, shy guy had to deal with being a more popular attraction than the Great Wall. We experienced squatty potties. They know it’s different there. In Paris, they dressed like locals — with loafers and collared shirts. They learned the slower pace of a Parisian dinner — something we brought home because we enjoyed the less hectic pace. They look to the world around them as an opportunity to learn and grow, not from a selfish point of view expecting others to conform to them.
    3. Kids who travel develop a taste for new cuisine. We have a rule, traveling domestically or internationally, that we always eat local! My kids look forward to it, and while they don’t like everything they try, they do eat just about anything. We know spicy, gooey, “ricey” and more. Our dinners at home have evolved through the years — it’s fun!

    Is it expensive? YES — but we can skip the cable and other things for the sake of travel.
    Is it exhausting managing different personalities? YES — but my three kids are now close. They respect each other as they respect people in public. We don’t have much sibling rivalry here — and that’s priceless!
    Is it worth it? ABSOLUTELY! I wouldn’t change a thing!

  • Lara

    I come from a family that never went further than over-the-river-and-through-the-woods when I was young. The traveling I did in those formative years came from the books I read. How I longed to visit those places. When I was old enough to set out on my own, I did. Living in Spain at 19 couldn’t have been further from the lives my parents lived. It changed me, opened up my whole world, and theirs. When I had kids, travel was as much a part of our lives as any other tool in our parenting tool box. Where some kids played little league, mine headed to NYC, Half Moon Bay, Mexico. They may not have plastic trophies decorating their bedrooms, but they do have the foundations for being world citizens, should they choose. The way one parent may knit as a hobby or stress relief, I travel. I completely get where you’re coming from!

  • Becky

    I have 4 boys and dream of traveling the world with them…if we only had the money..I love and envy that you can do that..I don’t think it’s selfish at all, they do learn, remember and absorb more than we think…keep truckin!

    • Keryn Means

      Becky local exploration is just as valuable as the ones farther afield. Keep exploring with those boys! I only saw New Hampshire and Philly as a kid and it shaped who I am today.

  • Julie Henning

    Yes. I pretty much think you nailed it on the head here. In fact, I am of the mindset it’s actually easier to travel when your kids are in elementary school. I say to them now, “Oh, we went to such-and-such place and they sometimes remember, sometimes not,” but I really think the trip was more about me introducing them to travel as an integral way of life. Now, it’s exhausting and not for everyone, but I have no regrets. I really don’t consider myself putting my life on hold for my kids, as much as taking an early retirement and bringing them with me. My dad passed away when I was 33 and this really pushed me to live a life with fewer regrets.

  • Olga @The EuropeanMama

    I’ve seen this post shared somewhere and loved it! We used to travel a lot with children (especially around Europe), but as they are now 1,3 and 5, it’s actually more difficult. Yes, travelling with babies is so much easier: less luggage, they sleep more, it’s less expensive! But we will travel again, I am sure! Our eldest is already big enough I think, and the other two will soon follow! I don’t understand putting our lives on hold just because we have children: if you can travel with your family, that’s awesome and your kids will benefit from it!

  • kristi

    What an interesting read. I waited to travel to Europe with my kids until I couldn’t wait any longer. It stressed me out to deal with crying on the planes and though I thought my first would be an “amazing” traveler because his first plane ride was at 2 months to Alaska, he wasn’t. When the second child was 5 we went to France for 3 weeks. After two weeks and no luxuriously long French dinners and several “I didn’t ask to come on this trip” comments from my 8 y/o I thought we’d made the wrong choice. Week 3 changed it all. One kid sat in the front seat and the other in the back…yes, completely against US laws but then again there were no safety railings on the mountainside castles we climbed either…and they had wine tasting at the ticket booth. We stayed in the Dordogne at Le Chevrefeuille and if there’s a heaven for parents with toddlers and young kids -this is it. Country roads and sunflowers and long dinners where you can see your kids playing in the playroom or they’ve run off to have dessert with the other kids. The moral of this story? You can kind of have it all if you find the right fit or in this case the right hotel. And Keryn Means – you have one of the best dispositions possible for traveling with kids. If only I could post my photo of you with the car seat on your back, one hand on the stroller and the other holding your child’s hand…’nuff said.

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