Before we had kids, The Captain and I spent all our money on travelling. We spent six months on a round-the-world adventure back in 1999. Our unconventional honeymoon involved a hugely exciting (and largely unromantic) train journey from Berlin to China. We managed numerous shorter holidays and frequent foreign weekends away, often at very short notice. I notched up visits to nearly 60 countries before the children arrived and my passport was my pride and joy We had to answer to no-one and consider only ourselves. Exploring the unknown of new cultures, landscapes, transportation and cuisines was what floated both our boats.
Even before #1 was born, we planned our first couple of holidays. We went camping with very limited facilities when Kai was an 8 week old baby. His first introduction to Europe came at nine months, with a trip to Tuscany for a friend’s wedding. This also incorporated his first city break – a few days in Rome. The following month we headed to the Canadian Rockies to celebrate my Dad’s 60th. The Spring of 2009 was a case of jumping in with both feet when it came to travelling with a baby. Flights, both short haul and long haul, accommodation and logistical considerations, food issues, car seat issues. You name it, we dealt with it. A shared confidence in our own ability to travel combined with a definite naivety meant that we were able to wing it, survive and come home with plenty of happy memories. Adding the fact that I was actually 5 months pregnant as well, I think our efforts were worthy of a pat on the back. Our only problem was that every success further fuelled our wanderlust, but depleted our limited funds.
The addition of more and more children never dampened our desire to see the world, but the restricted funds meant that we did a lot more exploration closer to home. Having been such intrepid travellers beforehand, it was wonderfully refreshing to realise that you don’t have to go very far to find yourself in equally amazing places. Our UK camping trips became more frequent that anything exotic, but we discovered that any kind of exploration is fun, expecially when we’re doing it together.
We did go on a few foreign holidays, largely garnering a love of continental Center Parcs, however the crowning glory of our ‘travel with kids’ quest came in 2017. An opportunity arose for us to attend a family wedding in a remote village in Northern Thailand. We didn’t have to think long or hard to accept. We even added on a side-trip to Cambodia, ticking off a firm fixture on our travel wishlist. Travelling to South East Asia with four children aged between three and eight was a learning curve, but it was all worth it for the huge amount of memories and experiences we banked during those two weeks. Things we shared.
So, is it really possible to travel with kids AND have an enjoyable time? For me, it’s a resounding YES. The only thing holding you back is yourself. Fear of the unknown and worrying with what ifs. Yes, it does take more planning than setting off solo, but a change in mindset and an acceptance of compromise is all it takes. Of course infinite patience, unlimited funds and a childminder are also a bonus.