Traveling with kids ain’t all bad. Seriously. Take it from us, the good times of exploring near and far don’t have to end once you become a parent (which many people believe, unfortunately).
There are valuable benefits to traveling with kids. They force you to evolve your style of travel, and in my opinion, usually for the better.
1. They force you to SLOW down
My number one travel tip I generally give people is to SLOW DOWN and spend more time in fewer places. When you travel with kids, you basically have no choice but to plan for a slower pace than you might usually attempt if traveling solo or as a couple.
They force you to be realistic about what you can and can’t do in the time frame you have. They don’t allow you to cram too much in to your itinerary (if you do you learn that lesson pretty quickly), and for the most part, I recommend you set the pace of your trip to what your youngest child can handle.
Plus, on road trips they force you to build into your agenda time for stops along the way for snack breaks, toilet breaks and play time – often this leads us to stopping at small towns or beaches we would never have visited.
Other benefits of slow travel:
- You Spend Less Money – the more you move around by taking flights, buses, trains or road tripping the more you spend on tickets and fuel. Too much transport can really eat into your budget.
- The less you feel you have to see, the more enjoyable and stress-free for EVERYONE.
- You get to know a region well – instead of racing from one end of a country to another, or tearing through 6 countries in 6 weeks, you’ll get a better feel for a place and learn about the best things to see and do, and build a connection with the locals.
- Less Burnout – having to pack and unpack, deal with many airports, bus terminals, boarder crossings and even visa issues can lead to burn out.
2. They force you to MEET PEOPLE
Kids are incredible ice breakers for conversations, and they can be best friends with total strangers within 5 minutes. Us adults, well, we can stand distant from others for hours, even days minding our own business without ever saying hello.
Kids, they just look at each other and they’re off playing like long lost cousins.
When our kids start playing with other kids, of course, we then engage with their parents, it’s rude not to right? And it’s an easy conversation starter.
Because of this, we’ve met so many other interesting travelers we may never have had a conversation with, which can lead to friendships or at the very least, the sharing of tips and stories.
Same goes for meeting the locals in foreign countries. From our experience, people just come up to us and start interacting with our kids, and in Asia they steal your babies!
Be prepared for your children to be picked up, cuddled, and have photos taken of them in some foreign lands. Breathe, and enjoy the new experience of meeting friendly strangers.
3. It’s an Excuse to Stay in Apartments
Before kids, we never considered staying in apartments as a way to save money on accommodation. It was mostly cheap hotels or hostels.
But now we love staying in apartments, whether it’s inner city or on the beach, and it’s mainly because of our kids we gave them a shot.
Most big-city hotel rooms were not built for families with young kids. They usually have no refrigerator or microwave, floor space is at a premium, and neighbors can hear every tantrum.
But with an apartment, you get more space, thicker walls, a kitchen, a washing machine, and separate bedrooms.
These extra facilities, especially for a long stay, can make your trip so much more enjoyable. Try it, and even consider sharing a 4-bed apartment with another family to really make it economical.
4. They force you to stay in safe / central locations
When it was just Caz and I, we’d often stay wherever we got the cheapest price, and sometimes those neighborhoods were out of the way or in dodgy locations. Especially creepy coming home late at night.
Now that we have kids we are conscious of staying in a safe, central location that’s also close to local attractions, food outlets, the beach, the park, and all preferably within walking distance.
This has a flow on effect of saving us time and money in getting to places, and provides more options for cheap local eats, especially if we’re staying in a hotel or motel as we don’t want to have to eat in their expensive restaurants.
5. They force you to go on ROAD TRIPS
Before we left on our road trip around Australia, we seriously considered doing a big trip through Asia. That was until we spent 2 weeks in Thailand where the only real option was using public transport to get around the country.
Savannah, at 2 years old, was tough to deal with in Asia and we longed for having our own vehicle and going at our own pace.
Road trips are AWESOME, and especially awesome for families. By having your own vehicle and a place to store your stuff, and you have LOTS of stuff with kids, it makes for a more pleasant experience than having to load and unload everything constantly on planes, trains, mini-vans, tuk-tuks, you name it.
And by having the flexibility to stop when you want to stop, to be able to slow down or speed up, or divert from your initial route, is priceless. You can’t do that so much when relying on public transport.