In honour of the upcoming Mother's Day celebrations (EEEK! Have you got your present sorted yet?! Head over to the Wanderlust People market now for 30% off storewide and get that business done!), let's talk about travelling with children... you know the kind that kick the back of your seat on the train, scream the entire way on the plane and interrupt your sunset view with their crying and snotting. Sounds amazing right?
To be completely honest, for me one of the main reasons that the concept of having my own children seemed so inconceivable for so long, was because it didn't really reconcile with my love of travel. All I really had to go on was the back-of-the-seat-kicking, the screaming and the flailing. I can actually remember having conversations with Elissa (who became a parent before me) about what it was like to travel with children and she assured me travelling with kids ADDED to the experience rather than detracted from it. I must admit part of me thought this may have been a bit of an exaggeration or that perhaps she was overcompensating with positivity because really it was the worst thing in the world but since she was already stuck with said children, she had better just pretend it was great because there was no going back now! Really I imagined she must be gouging out her eyeballs on long haul flights and pining for the days of solitude and bliss.
But then, eventually, I joined the world of parenthood myself. Of course travel was on the agenda early on and we took our eight-month-old on a six week trip to Europe - travelling through Italy, France and parts of Spain. And we all absolutely loved it! Of course it was different to travelling just the two of us. But it was brilliant. And I finally understood what Elissa meant when she said having children on the adventure actually added to the experience. We found that travelling with our baby was a magnet for engaging with local people. We had more conversations, more recommendations and discovered more hidden gems than perhaps we ever had before. All because people wanted to talk to Samuel.
And it was remarkable to see the world through Samuel's eyes as he experienced not only foreign lands and cultures for the first time, but also the wonder of first time experiences of absolutely everything - from interaction with locals who stopped to greet him with a "Ciao bello," everywhere we went in Italy, to the breathtaking magic of a new vista, another uninterrupted view, the crystal clear waters of a stream, the vivid green of a tree, the undulating hills dotted with castles, the scent of fresh garlic and herbs cooking in an Italian trattoria or the pungent cheeses to be sample at a French market. How amazing is the world!
Samuel with one of his surrogate Italian nonnas. This woman whisked him away, fed him biscotti, took him for a walk and then gave us the best travel advice we received in Italy!
Critics might say that you're crazy to take your kids travelling before they are old enough to remember it. But for us, having an extended period of time off exploring together, especially with a young baby, was the perfect way to begin this new season in our lives. This particular journey will always hold a special place in our hearts and memories as it solidified our new life as a "family" and gave us time and space to enjoy each other and establish ourselves in this new phase of life in the best way we know how - by travelling!
I'm certainly no expert in this field though - in fact as a family with just one child, you could say I'm really just a beginner. Rachel Denning on the other hand, is somewhat of an expert. She is permanently travelling with her husband and SIX children (eight years, 13 countries and counting!).
“...when we hear people say “Travel and adventure isn’t for people who have taken on the responsibility of raising kids,” we have to raise our hands and say, “Whoa… wait a minute. That’s not true.”
Sure, it’s not easy. It takes a lot of work, and planning and often requires ‘sacrificing’ something else (like maybe time in school, or giving up Little League.)
But if it’s something you really want, if the idea of exploring this big, beautiful world with your kids is exciting, whether part time or full time… then you can make it happen.”
— Rachel Denning
If you are considering taking your family on the road, I would recommend checking out the Live Your Legend blog and especially the tips Rachel provides for permanently travelling with kids.
And in the meantime - be kind to your fellow travellers! Whether you are travelling alone, with your partner or friends or with your brood of children, remember everyone is in a different phase of life and has different priorities and experiences. A smile, a friendly conversation and a dose of respect will always be the right attitude no matter what situation you find yourselves in.
French chateaus and sleeping babes
And if you're planning a trip with your bambino...this booties are made for walking... (actually, they're not, but they are definitely up for some international crawling)