Amanda and son drinking fresh squeezed orange juice in Penang, Malaysia
Interested in traveling with the kids? Not only can playgrounds be culturally informative, but there are many reasons why traveling with kids isn’t as hard as you think.
1) What are some of the trips you’ve taken as a family?
My almost-four-year-old son first got on a plane aged four months and has since taken some 20 flights and visited 10 countries. We call Perth in Western Australia home, but because my husband is from Germany we get to Europe every couple of years and manage shorter trips in between — some of them just me and my son when my husband can’t get away from work. We’ve just come back from a two-week mother-and-son trip to Penang, Malaysia; last year we had a great time traveling around Europe to Slovakia, Austria, Switzerland, Germany and Ireland.
2) What’s one thing that’s surprised you about traveling with young kids?
To be honest, I expected traveling with a young child to be much harder. I think we forget how resilient kids can be. I thought managing a four-hour layover in Singapore’s Changi Airport in the middle of the night with a three-year-old would be a disaster; he happily watched some of his favorite TV shows on the iPad and skipped onto the next plane with me. We hear a lot about kids needing a routine — and my son, when he’s at home, definitely does better with a really regular routine — but it seems that when we hit the road, he’s OK with things being a bit all over the place for a while.
Amanda’s son at the cat street art in George Town, Penang.
3) What’s the best part about traveling with young kids?
Seeing my son learn about the world through his young eyes is incredible. It is like the way I feel about experiencing new places but with the excitement and amazement amped up ten-fold. I also adore taking him to places that have been important to me already (for example, to Slovakia where I worked for a year, pre-family). Actually, there are so many best parts that I could write a book about it!
4) What’s the biggest challenge of traveling with young kids?
It was easier than I thought, but probably the trickiest part for experienced travelers is giving up the “old way” you traveled and adapting it to suit young children. For example, more time in local playgrounds instead of museums (although it’s amazing how much you can learn about a country from the local playgrounds!). For some kids, entertaining them for long distances is a problem though I’m lucky with my son that he’s easily amused and also, like me, is happy to stare out the window of a bus or a train for hours.
5) What’s one thing you would tell someone wanting to travel with young kids but is nervous to do so?
Start traveling as soon as you can — the younger the better! I think one of the reasons my son travels well is because he sees it as a normal part of life, just like going to kindergarten or to Grandma’s — it’s just something we do from time to time.
Otherwise, I’d start off with a short trip, with the absolute optimal flight times and accommodation, and get them used to the idea of being in strange places. I have now learnt that an overnight stopover on long haul flights (eg stopping in Dubai between Australia and Europe) is a massive sanity saver.
Contributed by Amanda Kendle who blogs at NotABallerina.com.