Hello from the travel-nerd family over in sunny California. My name is Kristyn and I am a fourth grade teacher who loves to travel. My favorite traveling buddies are my husband Cameron, and our two boys, Henry (5 ½ ) and Oliver (2 ½ ). I am relatively new to the blogging scene, but you may have seen some of my posts on Travelnerdplans. If you haven’t, then feel free to head on over and check it out! 🙂
Here is where you can find me:
How old was/were your child/children the first time you flew/went on holiday with them and where did you go?
The first time we traveled with kids was a Hawaii trip when our oldest was just 10 months old. The first trip we took with both of the kids was a cruise to Cabo San Lucas, during which our boys were 4 ½ and 1 ½ .
What important items do you always take with you on your travels?
I am a bit of an overpacker, so I am tempted to say that everything I bring is an important item! 😛 But I suppose that’s not the point here, so let me try to scale down to the real priorities. I think for young kids like ours, you definitely need as much as possible to keep them busy while traveling: snacks, toys, tablets, books, the works! Also, I think it is important to pack extra clothes for them. Think about the amount of clothes that seems logical for the time you’ll be traveling and then double or triple it!
Since our youngest is not yet potty-trained, we also have to pack about a thousand diapers and wipes. I know we can buy those elsewhere, but I like knowing we won’t run out of the brand that works for us. Plus, you’ve got to love the amount of souvenir space in your suitcase once you have used up all of those diapers and wipes! 😉 And now for the very most important necessity to bring along: family! For all of our travels with the kiddos, we have been with family–aunts, uncles, cousins, and Grandma. If it takes a village to raise your kids, it only makes sense to travel with a village, right?!
Have you ever forgotten something important at home?
Since I take so much freakish delight in planning, and because I am the overpacker that I am, I can’t really think of anything we have ever left behind. Luggage, check! Appallingly heavy carry-on that is bursting at the seams, check! Enough clothes for a month, check! Kid #1, check! Kid #2, check! Hubby, check! 🙂
What was your favourite destination and why?
mmm, this is a great question. And a terrible question, because who can pick just one??? 🙂 I think if I am considering only the trips we have taken as a family, I would have to say Costa Rica. This last November, we (the whole family–all 12 of us!) spent a week at a beach house near Jacó. We found that Costa Rica was the perfect place for relaxed family time. We were able to enjoy the pool, the beach, and beautiful walks. There are activities for groups of all ages, and everyone had a great time.
One off our favorite days was when we headed to Manuel Antonio National Park. We wandered through with a guide, seeing sloths, monkeys, and many other animals and insects. We then spent some time at one of the beautiful beaches before heading out to eat lunch at an airplane restaurant! How can you beat a day of nature, sloths, swimming in the ocean, and eating in an old airplane, all with your favorite people?
Where would your child/children love to travel to if they could choose?
Right now my 5-year-old is pretty keen on the idea of going to Egypt! I went when I was 19 and am ready to see it again, so I think it is a great idea! We also want to go to Israel, so we might make it a combo trip. I am thinking this won’t happen for a few years, though, as I want it to be a memorable experience for both of the boys.
Do you usually travel on your own, with other family members (e.g. grandparents), friends or nanny?
Yes! If you saw my first answer, you know that I think family is the #1 item to pack for a trip!! 😛 I cannot even begin to tell you how wonderful it has been to have extra help, especially when lugging around carry-ons, car seats, and wild children at the airport!! I am sure we will eventually be able to travel without an entourage, but for now traveling with family is a total blessing!
What do you think travelling abroad teaches your children?
At this point with my kids being so young, I think it is kind of just a big blur of stimulation and excitement for them. We are trying to really reinforce the idea that they are blessed to be visiting new places and they should be thankful. Our older son sometimes stares at our travel map and ponders the places we have been and will hopefully someday visit. I would like to think that he is building a love of travel that he will be able to take with him through life!
Do you have any tips or hints for other parents that make your travelling easier and more relaxed?
Ha! I don’t know, I am still looking for those tips and hints, myself! 🙂
To be perfectly honest, we have found that there is a fair amount of stress mixed in with the joy of traveling as a family. I think this is probably because each trip we take with our little ones is pretty much uncharted territory for us. So like, we may be pros at traveling as a couple, but have no clue how to cruise with kids or get through a long flight with a preschooler and toddler.
So in preparation for our trips, I fret and I research until I am practically crazy with all of the tips and anecdotes and cautionary tales I read. I spin all of the worst case scenarios in my mind, and then I start to (over)plan everything in hopes that I will be prepared for every possible scenario. Once I feel completely prepared, I calm down. But then, as the trip finally draws near, I start to stress out again!
BUT then the trip comes and everything is wonderful! Even when little issues come up (you know, fun stuff toddler stuff like meltdowns on a flight, no naps when naps are desperately needed, refusing to eat anything but breadsticks for dinner 5 nights in a row…), we deal with them and they are nothing in the big picture of a wonderful trip!
I am realizing that all of the things that tend to worry me pre-trip are nothing in retrospect. And I think (HOPE!) it gets easier with experience, as we get used to traveling with our kiddos. 🙂
How long in advance do you book a holiday?
We typically book well in advance, about a year, give or take. Since we frequently travel in groups, it is a matter of accommodating everyone’s schedule. But I really wouldn’t mind taking a spur of the moment trip if the opportunity presents itself. I am trying out the Hopper app right now, throwing in some dream trips at possible vacation times and seeing if any decent prices come up. If a great deal appears, I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get there…
What makes your holiday perfect?
I think for us, a good holiday has to include delicious food and relaxation. Throw in some new places and interesting history, and we’ve got the makings of a pretty amazing vacation!
Do you plan all the activities and sightseeing in advance?
I am a planner. Guilty. I just cannot help myself! I love researching the heck out of a trip and Google-mapping every possible drive we might take! Do we stick to all of the plans? Not necessarily. But there is definitely a jam-packed itinerary that was made with love tucked away in my carry-on!
Are you still one of those people that uses a travel agencies for all your holiday bookings or do you plan everything on your own?
No travel agent for us. The control freak in me likes to plan everything and book everything myself!
What is your favourite activity as a family when you are away?
Sleeping in–hahaha! Yeah right! 😛 I think beach time is a favorite for me. Maybe not for my husband who does most of the corralling of the kids, but I personally love watching them happily frolic in the surf. Neither is a swimmer at this point, but they love the water like there’s no tomorrow! <3
Well, I think that is about it. We are still novices as family travelers, so I am thankful to be able to read others’ experiences–they inspire me to continue our own family adventures! So thanks for reading and I hope to read all of your stories as well!
Thank you Kristyn for giving us an insight and tips from your travel experiences.
If you are interested in sharing your experiences about your travels with children, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will then email you the questionnaire template and some other requirements for the post. I am looking forward to hearing from you…