How to Transition Into Family Travel
When we first started Wed to Wanderlust, our aim was to focus on couple’s travel. Ha! I look back now and laugh because one of our goals was to have a family that included more than our fur babes. Even with those goals, we did not have a strict plan on when this would come to fruition. We (mainly me) faced some serious fertility challenges (more on that another time) and we decided to just go with the flow after some serious effort put into babymaking. Fast forward to now, and here we are reflecting on the differences in traveling as a family, compared to our previous adventuring style.
Keep reading for more tips to transition into family travel.
RESET YOUR EXPECTATIONS
Realize that the overall dynamic of travel will change and evolve as your family grows and ages. Solo or couple travel has its similarities but adding the element of littles should naturally reset your expectations during these times of journey. For example, unless you’re comfortable with hiring an onsite nanny, you likely won’t be able to go to that adults-only restaurant. Or a couples massage might be out of the question on your next quest to Mexico. Another idea might be to travel with other families so that you can switch off watching the kids for the others. Of course, you could leave the kids at home with your parents, but not only is that not an option for all, but that would be missing the mark on this post.
The speed and mode of travel is another relatively large area of expectation that will change too. Another change might be getting through the airport might take a bit longer. More items to check or to go through security checks. Or maybe plane tickets for all are stretching the budget a bit more, so driving is a more affordable option right now. Well, your children will need more stops on the road than when you’re driving across the country solo. No matter what, patience is a key expectation now more than ever for your future adventures.
These may alter as your family grows. Or your bucket list may shift around a bit. A helpful tool that has given Steven and I a better perspective is the various Facebook family travel groups we belong to. They are a wealth of knowledge! For example, Egypt is on our bucket list and was ranking near the top, but with a little now along for the ride, we are opting to move this trip out till he is older and can truly appreciate such an exciting destination.
Another thought regarding travel goals is what is your reason for your next destination? If it’s relaxation, this might be a while if you have younger children (unless you plan accordingly). In a previous life, this was a large part of each of our adventures. With a toddler, we get some of this in, but it’s more in solo, small pockets and during nap time or after Maximus is in bed for the night. As a family, our goals are focused more on cultural experiences.
ACTIVITIES THAT ARE SAFE FOR EVERYONE
This is a big one! And based on your children’s age too. Unfortunately, not everyone will be able to participate in swimming with stingrays if they are too little. But it’s absolutely possible to encounter wildlife with the right excursion! For example, on the Big Island in Hawaii, we went to one of the national parks and we were able to observe green turtles in the bay (make sure to obey ALL rules). This was a great activity because we learned from the rangers about the wildlife/history and we were able to play on the beach for the afternoon. Another awesome space to explore are children’s museums. The pool and/or beach make a pretty neutral activity that is safe for everyone also.
Pro tip:If visiting a US National Park, download the NPS app. This app is awesome! You can save park information offline (for those places that are outside of cell range) or play self-guided tours.
I thrive off of planning, but there are some that see it as just plain yuck. Well, let me try to change your mind by appealing to you on how much easier or less stressful your trip will be by planning out some of your days, even if they are loose plans. I use the Trip It app to plan our journeys, both domestic and international. Be sure to include any places that you absolutely want to visit. One of the major reasons I like using this app is that I can forward my trip confirmations to the app and it will automatically load to my planned trip. Knowing ahead of time what each day looks like, allows for you to realistically plan your time away and avoid over-planning. This is tough with children, especially younger kids when days are packed and they are in a new environment.
PACKING LISTS ARE YOUR BEST FRIEND
This was huge for when we became parents and took our first voyage when Maximus was 4 months old. Luckily for us, we were going to Hawaii, so there were many of the items there for purchase that we have back home. But when we went to Aruba when he was a year old, I didn’t pack enough powder formula and stressed out that we wouldn’t have enough to get us back home. There was one store on the island that had what we needed but it took me till the end of our trip to learn that. Long story short, if I used a packing list on both trips, I might have saved us the hassle of spending time searching for the items we needed at our destination (taking valuable time away from adventuring). If you still don’t know where to start, download our free travel planner, which includes a packing list template!
RESEARCH YOUR DESTINATION
I am such a research nut, so this is right up my alley. I will go down the digital rabbit hole exploring a place before we get there. But this serves me well and I hope the same for you too! On a recent first-timer’s trip to Palm Springs, without a little bit of research, we would have not been able to go on one of the excursions I wanted us to do the most. The Palm Springs Aerial Tram was going to be out of service for annual maintenance on all but one day of our trip. Since I was able to learn this ahead of time, I rearranged some of our other activities, so that we could enjoy this during our first day down there.
Another point to consider is researching child-friendly options at your destination as well. Not all tours/restaurants are created equal! While on one of our trips to Hawaii, we changed our mind on touring a certain chocolate farm to another based on the reviews! We were not disappointed either. The chocolate farm we visited was super kid-friendly and they even had a small duck pond for the children to enjoy. That was such a great bonus during that excursion.
After all, is said and done, with the right amount of prep, you and your family will be sure to have a trip of a lifetime! Take the time to do the research and remember that some bumps in the road equate to experience, not failures. Need some extra help planning? Sign up for a free travel planner here. Cheers to your next family travel journey!
Pop a comment below to share your experiences with transitioning into family travel!
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