Travel NEEDS to be fun for parents too

Tell me if this sounds familiar—we aren’t going to go to Europe yet. We want to wait until the kids can appreciate it.

Or wait, what about this one—why waste money on a vacation right now? The kids aren’t going to remember it.

Let’s put a stop to this way of thinking right now. Parents, you know the people who pay for the trip, have just as much right as the kids to enjoy their vacation that they have saved up for and been dreaming about probably for longer than their kids have been on this earth. We as parents need to remember this. We are important too.


For far too long we have been told to put our children’s needs above our own. We have been told to always put their interests first, essentially telling us to forget our own wants and desires, interests and expectations for life. No. Those will have to wait until the kids pack up for college.


If I thought this way I would begrudge my kids for the rest of their lives as I saw my youth pass me by and all of my money go into their education. If I had to wait until they went to college you better believe I would become the mother of all helicopter moms and push my kids to succeed and get out the door as soon as possible.

This type of thinking isn’t fair. It isn’t fair to the parents and it certainly isn’t fair to the kids. No child should have to feel like they slowed their parent down just because they were born. Children are meant to be loved and cherished, not resented. So why do we continue to use our kids as an excuse not to do the things we love?

No more I say! For years I’ve been beating this bush dead. I travel for me, not my kids. I’m a selfish mom and I am OK with that. I travel where I want to travel, because let’s get real, my kids at this young age just don’t care where we go as long as we are together. My boys, who are now 3 and almost 6, don’t even know that Disney World exists. You know what they do know about? Gelato.

Yup. My oldest is an ice cream connoisseur. He can ask for strawberry ice cream in four languages because he knows that if he doesn’t say it politely to the shopkeeper in whatever country we are in, he isn’t getting a cone of his favorite treat in the world.

I don’t say this to brag, I say it to make a point. I wanted to visit friends in Italy when he was three and his brother was 5 months old. We went to Italy. He had ice cream for the first time there and he has been hooked ever since.

This is the memory he made while in Italy. This is the memory I hold onto from our trip—that look of pure joy when he took his first lick, and yes I have a picture hanging on my wall of that moment.

I’ve heard friends and random strangers even ask me why I bother to bring my kids to far off lands when all the kids want to do is play on the playground. Well for one thing, playgrounds are everywhere. There is even one right by the Eiffel Tower I’m told.

Playgrounds are a great place to mingle with the locals. My boys make friends wherever they are, so naturally I start chatting or mime with the moms and grandmas who are sitting on the bench or hovering around little ones who just started walking. The second thing is that I don’t actually spend that much time at playgrounds at home, much less when I travel. There are so many things to do around us that don’t involve a playground.

Now that we are living outside of DC I have access to an endless number of monuments, steps and grassy fields leading up to those monuments for the boys to run around. We have world-class museums to educate ourselves in and restaurants to stretch our taste buds whenever they get bored.

Family fun doesn’t start or end at a playground. Make the world your playground to explore with your kids.

Want to know how many times I’ve been to a children’s museum in the past six years? Twice. Maybe three times. I hate children’s museums. I loathe them with a passion you wouldn’t believe. I have zero fun there. Yes, my children love them, but if I have to take them, why can’t I take them somewhere that we can all enjoy, like a science museum or natural history museum. Dinosaurs are cool! I can get on board with that. What I can’t get on board with is paying a king’s ransom to play tea party in a tiny kitchen at a museum. Sorry, but that just isn’t me.

Once again I will say, why are you only traveling for your kids when you are there too? I don’t want to be the mom at the park or museum who just sits on my cell phone commenting on Facebook posts. I want to be doing things that are worth posting about! I want my boys to have fun interacting with me when I am truly joyful, not when I am pretending and wishing I was back home on the couch catching up on HGTV reruns (yes, I’m a closet HGTV fan, I admit it).

Next time you want to blame your kids for your lack of global wanderings, ask yourself one question—what’s the real reason you aren’t traveling? Is it really because of your kids or is it just that you don’t want to deal with them? If you answered the latter, well that is a whole different article I’ll need to write. Let’s face it– travel should be fun for parents too.


14 thoughts on “Travel NEEDS to be fun for parents too”

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more. I think far too many parents let their lives, especially their travel lives, revolve around their kids and I don’t think it does anyone any good. Happy parents make good parents and only doing kiddie things does not make me a happy parent either. Plus I think we should give our kids more credit- they might like a museum. Let them give it a go! Plus like I tell my kiddo, when he says he wants to go to Greece and it’s just not on our agenda right now, he still has his whole travel life ahead of him so he’ll be free to go where he wants. 🙂 Not that I don’t take some of his wishes into consideration but no, the whole trip doesn’t revolve around only what he wants to do.

    1. Keryn Means

      I couldn’t agree more. Although I’d go to Greece. It’s definitely on my list 😉

      1. It’s on the list… just not near the top right now. I tell him he can take his old mom there one day when she’s too old to go on her own. 🙂 What I really love though is that he picked Greece all on his own and wants to see the ruins and learn more about Greek mythology. When I hear mature, thoughtful comments like that it definitely makes me a happy mom. He is getting a taste of Greek ruins though in a few weeks when we take a tour of Albania.

        One suggestion I do have for parents if they are worried their kids might be bored- get them their own digital camera. I’ve seen quite a difference in how in to a particular place my son is with a camera in his hands. Even the places on the trip he might find boring suddenly take on a whole new light if he’s looking for cool photos to take. And on that trip to Albania when he has his 14th birthday- his very own “adult” camera that I hope he gets lots of enjoyment out of on his travels for years to come.
        I read your other post from last year that is similar to this and was really encouraged by the many posts from parents that also agree. I do think every family is different and should do what’s best for them– but I would hate to think some parents have resentment building thinking they can’t or shouldn’t travel with their kids.

  2. I completely agree! We have travelled lots with our kids pretty much everywhere we want to go. We usually do one R&R break a year which involves a water park. Otherwise it’s about us. There is indeed a park near the Eiffel Tower. Our kids played tag while we waited in line – that photo is on my instagram. At one point I was going to write a book called Playgrounds of Europe (with literally playgrounds!). I feel like we know all the playgrounds of the places we have visited. Kids need space to unwind or they do get grumpy.

  3. Agreed! A couple of weeks ago we went to Guilin in China – we’d put it off for a few years but now my kids are 2 and 4 we decided to give it a go. We had a blast – we visited rice terraces, minority villages, did a river cruise, bamboo rafting. None of it was especially for the kids and they did a lot of coloring and iPad watching over the three days but we were so glad we went.

    We also recently went wine tasting in Western Australia – we were there for a week and visited 19 wineries with the kids… on the two days we did things for them (one a cave and the other going to the beach) they moaned so we went back to the wineries and they were happy again, ha ha – they loved looking to see what toys and games each place would have and what gardens they had to explore, and whether there was a playground!

    We are however putting off safari until they are a bit older – I can bear the thought of all the evil looks I would get when my 2-year old roars at all the animals!

    1. I have to say I’m holding off on the safari too. I’m more worried about my toddler wanting to “hug” the kitty cats. Could you imagine! So glad you had a great wine tour of Australia. Sounds heavenly!!!

  4. I’ve found that as long as I book a hotel with a pool, I can plan the itinerary that sounds fun to me. Parents do need to be flexible, but children know how have a good time just about anywhere.

  5. I totally agree. We have traveled with our kids since they were babies, despite plenty of ‘they won’t remember it’ comments. The only time I wait before traveling with my kids is in order to ensure they are old enough to understand the context/history of a place IF we can only go once in the foreseeable future. Example: we purposely waited to visit Gettysburg once my kids were all school-aged. We waited to plan our first Europe vacation as a family now that we have two teens who are studying European history. Had we been able to go regularly, we would have, but since we cannot, we wanted to get the most out of it.

  6. Amen! It’s like that oxygen mask analogy: you have to put yourself first before you can help others. This is why we’ve never taken our daughter to Disney. I like to think she’s had much richer experiences instead.

  7. I so agree. I’ve had friends say surprising things when told where we’re going on holiday. Like why wouldn’t we go with the baby to Rome? Sure she has no idea what’s going on, but we do and we make sure that she enjoys herself as well. Just because you’re a mom doesn’t mean you’re no longer you!

  8. Dr. Ben Green

    Wow, I couldn’t agree more! It would be so tempting to leave your children to your relatives so that you can travel in peace but that will not be fun as I will be worrying too much about my children but bringing them shouldn’t be a chore as well. Thank you for this encouragement!

  9. Emily T.

    Yes! Yes! Yes! and Yes, so many more times! My five children traveled with us to real places throughout their lives. They’ve visited too many museums and places to count–and never once did we go to Disneyland–even though we’ve mostly lived in Southern California. We always felt that same money could be spent on more meaningful trips and experiences. Now as our children have grown into adults, they feel comfortable traveling the world and interacting with just about anyone. They do not feel limited by the geography of where they grew up. I’m now seeing the fruit of that labor of bringing them along on all those “adult” vacations!

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