Confused about how to make family travel more of a reality for you?
We know you love the idea of travelling with your kids and want to embrace it more but you might be stuck on how to save for travel, how to manage the children’s interests and moods and how to make it work for your particular travel style and circumstances.
Travelling with kids is rewarding and manageable. We share as much as we can of our experiences on this travel blog, but the style in which we travel and how we make it work, might not resonate with you.
So we’re starting a new family travel series where we interview other family travellers to show how they make travel with kids a reality for them.
You’ll hear from budget travellers, luxury travellers, digital nomads, long-term travellers and those who fit travel inside a busy family and work lifestyle.
Please let us know in the comments below if there are any questions you’d like us to include in the interview series and please continue the discussion in the comments, I’m sure our guests would love to answer them for you!
Let’s kick it off today.
How to travel with kids-Introducing Sharon from Where’s Sharon?
I loved reading Sharon’s travel lifestyle and story as I can relate so much – travelling full-time as a mum and digital nomad is tough.
Plus, like Sharon, I no longer want to travel ultra-budget. I want more comfort and less hassle. I think you’ll love how Sharon can experience mid-range travel without spending huge amounts of money.
How do you fit family travel into your lifestyle?
Basically, we go away whenever we can. We have a mixture of shorter trips and longer trips – we just spent 13 months away, but now my daughter has started school, we will just be away every school holidays until we take off again for an extended period in a few years time.
How old are your children?
Our kids are 4 and 5 years old. I am also currently pregnant.
What’s your travel style?
Our travel style varies depending on where we are and our budget. Since having kids we like to travel at a mid-range level – I just don’t have the energy or patience for low budget travel anymore.
I also try to make things as easy as I can for the kids so they keep enjoying it. We definitely fly and use private transfers a lot more than we did before kids.
How do you plan your family trips?
I looooove travel planning, so I am usually planning many trips at once. I was like this before kids but having kids has definitely taken this up a notch, especially since we have travelled since they were both very young.
Want help with planning a travel experience the whole family will love? Click the image for immediate and free access to the toolkit.
How do you save and budget for family travel?
We always used to save all our money and spend it all on travel – I’d generally want to go away for as long as possible while balancing that with the fact that I am not a budget traveller anymore.
I love travel, but I would rather not go than do it on a tight budget now!
Thankfully, the world is much cheaper than people think and if you take it slow and be smart, it’s really not that expensive. We had no problems travelling Europe on AUD$3500 a month last year and I didn’t feel like we were missing out.
Now I work online, so I just work as we travel which has it’s pros and cons. It’s hard being a full-time mum, traveller and running my own business – but the benefits are awesome. It’s cheaper for us to travel well now than be at home in Australia.
What things do you sacrifice in order to travel with your kids?
We have an old car (and just one), we really don’t buy things and we don’t have much in the way of savings. However, I don’t see that as sacrifices. I have no doubt what I think is the best use of our money.
What do your kids think of travelling with you?
They love it! They are happy to be home at the moment after so long away, but they often hassle me about where we are going next and they have definite preferences about where they want to go.
Do your children help you plan your travels?
They are helping more as they get older.
We have found watching YouTube videos on our destinations a great way of working out together what we should do. Once they can read, I am sure they will do even more.
Do you have a funny or horror travel story?
The worst thing that has happened while travelling with kids was that my daughter, S, and I went to Disneyland Paris last year. The trains went on strike while we were there and we were stranded. It was a very frustrating and upsetting couple of hours.
I had no idea how we were going to get back into the city – we couldn’t get anywhere. All the taxis and buses were full. I literally thought we were going to spend the night sleeping in the gutter. It was a horrible parenting moment for me.
On the upside, eventually they did run one train and we got back to our Paris apartment. S forgot about it instantly and only talked about how it had been the best day of her life – she still talks about that aspect. If that’s the worst thing that has happened, it’s not that bad.
How do you cope with the challenges of family travel?
My number one tip is to be well prepared but then relax and enjoy. Don’t over think it! I also think the Australian Government terrorist warning – “Be alert, not alarmed” – applies well to family travel!
Generally, I think it’s easier than being at home. I don’t have to do so much cooking and cleaning and my husband is always around to help with the kids.
What do you love most about travelling with your kids?
I LOVE sharing the world with them. Seeing the world through their eyes is a pleasure.
I also love how it gives us more interaction with locals. It may seem boring going to a playground rather than a fancy museum, but this means interacting more with locals. Kids are a great way to break cultural barriers.
I also love all the dedicated quality family time. Life gets in the way too much at home and that is definitely what I miss most since we returned back home to Australia in January.
What do you hate about travelling with your kids?
There isn’t really anything I hate, just times that are more challenging than others.
When we arrive somewhere after a long flight and we’re all grumpy and tired and have to deal with immigration, customs, navigating a new city, getting essential supplies, etc. It can be tough. Those moments are over quickly though!
What are your top 3 tips for making family travel work?
- The biggest one is not to over think things. I think, in general, that over thinking is our biggest enemy as parents. Like I said above, be prepared but then relax.
- I don’t think you should use age as an excuse. Every age has its pros and cons and I found it easier when they were younger – they are much fussier now! Plus, now that we have to factor school into our planning, it’s much harder and more expensive.
- I highly recommend travelling carry on only. We did not find this possible when our kids were under 2, but since that point, we have loved it! Less luggage makes everything so much easier, and it’s really not necessary to take much. You can copy our full packing list for 3.5 months in Europe.
As someone who is currently pregnant and spent half of this pregnancy on the road and is now writing this while away in the third trimester – timing is everything! Unless you are someone who copes very well with
Unless you are someone who copes very well with pregnancy, try to time it for the middle of your pregnancy. I am definitely not finding first and third-trimester travel fun.
What are your biggest fears with travelling with kids and how do you overcome them?
My biggest fear, when they were a bit younger, was worrying they would be hit by a car in crazy traffic in Asia! This seemed more likely to me as something that would go wrong than anything else. My husband and I always assigned ourselves a kid each and just make sure they are always attached to us in some way.
More recently, it has been having a medical issue. I am over worrying about that now although we still avoid destinations with malaria. We had to use doctors and hospitals in so many countries last year and honestly every experience was better or on par with Australia. It was cheaper too!
Why do you travel with your kids?
Because it’s lots of fun!
I also want the kids to grow up as global citizens – rather than an Australian or Melbournian or whatever else.
I think there are just so many benefits to travel and it is amazing to hear how my kids talk about the world and their place in it – a school can never teach them what they have learned already.
I generally get the best flight and accommodation deals by just shopping around.
I look at Skyscanner for flights and sign up for any budget airline newsletters that fly to places I want to go. The majority of our travel has been on Air Asia – they are just so cheap! And we have never had any problems. We find their newsletter invaluable for saving money.
This is my list of 40 things we have learned about family travel – hopefully they will stop you making some of the mistakes we made!
What are some of your dream destinations? Where do you think is a great destination for family travellers?
Our dream destination is actually Russia – We are all very excited to do the Trans-Siberian next year. It may seem like a strange choice but the kids are nearly as excited as we are. They love the idea of living on a train.