Guest Post: Travel With Kids - Just Do It!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Everyone, meet my beautiful and inspirational friend Gina (she's on the camel far right, and that's her husband, Scotty, there in the middle). Travel has always been a part of who she is. So it wasn't any surprise that she just kept on keeping on after having her lovely daughter, Lulu. As Gina is quite the expert in family travel, I asked her to pen a piece on this exact subject since in my daily work I'm consistently speaking with folks who want to travel but "simply can't until the kids are grown and out of the house..." I don't have children, so I won't pretend to understand this statement. But in my mind, travel and exposure to different cultures as a child can only help them grow and pique their already-curious-and-wanting-to-learn-all-they-can little sponge-like minds. Hopefully Gina's tips below will put parents' minds at ease a tad, and give them the confidence they need to just plan that trip they've had in mind for so long now!  

Lovely Lila, who explores the world in her wonderfully authentic style, tells me she is often asked for tips on traveling with children – but since, as yet, she does not have any of her own besides her grown husband, Chad, she wondered if I might share a few words.

As an American who has traveled extensively and even lived in four international countries – two of them with a child – I am happy to oblige!

Okay for starters, let’s say the words together: “Travel. With kids.” If just the mere utterance of it all gives you shudders, I want to tell you, relax.  

Your kids are little humans. Not porcelain dolls. They’re built to survive. You’re a big human. You’re the grownup. You can manage. I have flown cross-country and overseas many a time with my now five-year-old daughter--and we’ve both survived. Don’t worry about the grouchy people who might sit in front of you on the plane. They can deal. They’re (hopefully) human too. We’re all in this together.

Last year, CNN ran a story about the difficulties of traveling with kids. A lot of mommy-bloggers I read were up in arms that it was alarmist; over-the-top. It called for too many things to be packed, too many extreme examples of horrors – toddler traveler vomits on neighbor, baby passenger pees on neighbor passenger, etc. I agreed, to an extent.

You gotta be prepared. You just don’t have to freak-out in order to do so. 
TIP NO. 1 -
For instance, my own daughter, Lulu, has been a motion-sickness monster since day one. She has never ridden in a car or taxi for more than 10 minutes without throwing up. I don’t make a big deal about it. I simply always carry plenty of wet wipes – whatever brand – and plenty of Ziplocâ (here, I will plug the registered brand, because some countries (like Italy, where I live now) do not sell them – and I want precisely them on hand!) baggies. I particularly like their little slider closure version – not because I need to easily reopen a filled barf bag, mind you, but because they are easier to open and close in a bind than the weird “yellow and blue make green” things. But, seriously, besides vomit, baggies - whatever brand you prefer - serve a variety of useful purposes: snack portions; markers or colored pencils; a place to stuff soiled clothes; whatever. Take along baggies for more than your allotted three ounces of liquids when you board a plane. For this, you will thank me.

TIP NO. 2 -
Also, whatever you do, don’t go anywhere without a stroller. If your baby is still small enough to carry on your person like in a Baby Björn, terrific. But even if your child is five years old, like Lulu, I think you’ll be happier with a stroller. If they’re too tired to tour, but you’re still raring to go, popping them in a stroller is the way to go. Plus, if they fall (blessedly) asleep, you can wheel them over to that little café you’ve been eyeing and enjoy a luxurious cup of coffee or glass of wine and not worry about whiny children. Small umbrella strollers are best. They’re easier to put up and put down, lighter to carry, and they fit through the turnstiles of most – read tiny Parisian – metros.

TIP NO. 3 -
My final top travel with kids tip is: don’t forget the favorite. Whether it’s a teddy bear, rabbit or some other stuffed animal (or “stuffy” as Lulu still calls them), blanket, or pacifier – if there is a constant companion of sorts for your child: bring it. And a back-up, if you can manage it. But again, don’t stress. Unless you’re vacationing in the remote, shop-free Australian Outback, you can buy a replacement of some sorts and make it a game. Your child will adapt. It’s not about how many video games they think they need. It’s not about the people sitting around you in the airplane or the museum or the restaurant.

It’s about you and your family. As long as you give your child calmness, reassurance and love, they’ll do fine. 

They’ll enjoy the adventure of travel if you do.
Gina London is a veteran CNN correspondent and anchor. She lived in Romania and Egypt as an NGO director and in Paris and now in Tuscany as an author and a mom. Her first book, “Because I’m Small Now and You Love Me” is about adventures in parenting and life overseas. It’s available at http://amzn.to/WSuMuk. Read more about Gina London at www.GinaLondon.com

4 comments:

  1. My parents traveled a lot with me as a child and once or twice they forgot my blankie and left it behind... I went batshit. Great tips!

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  2. Proof of Tip No. #3! Some little semblance of home works wonders, even for us adults!

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  3. Extremely nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have seriously enjoyed surfing around your weblog posts. Immediately after all I might be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write once again soon!
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    Replies
    1. Hi Chris, thank you for the kind words, glad you stumbled upon my blog! Hope you find some useful information here, and if you ever have a question dont' hesitate to ask! Very best, Lila

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