Here’s How to Navigate Traveling Full-Time With a Family
I can still remember the first time I traveled at eleven years old. My mother is from Mombasa, Kenya, and wanted my brother and me to connect with our roots. She sent us to live with my aunt in Mombasa, and we lived in Kenya for two years. The importance of travel was firmly installed in my mind after that experience.
When I became an adult, I had the opportunity to travel extensively as a corporate consultant. Companies worldwide booked me to train their teams, which meant that the companies paid for my trips to fifteen to twenty countries a year.
I’m still a frequent traveler at 41. In 2021, my wife and I sold everything to travel full-time. I’m also a father of six and grandfather of two. I’ve experienced travel pre-kids, with children in the home, and now as an empty nest parent.
Navigating travel with children takes planning and intentionality. There’s also an emotional component for parents who travel without their kids. Here’s how to navigate traveling full-time when you have kids with some advice from parents who travel.
Planning reduces the frustration of trying to do everything last minute. Winging it doesn’t work out that well, and it’s possible to research everything you need to know before your trip.
Janice Fredericks-Spell is the founder of The Retail Genius, Inc and the Beauty Supply Bootcamps Programs. She travels for business regularly — typically three to four times per month. She’s also a parent.
"My husband and I try to take our kids on as many trips as possible. My five-year-old (the oldest) has visited three different continents and has been to over ten countries. I believe it’s extremely important for children to travel. I was exposed to travel at a young age myself — it definitely made me a well-rounded adult. I love giving my kids the experience of seeing different states, countries, and cultures,” says Fredericks-Spell.
“My best advice for traveling with kids, especially toddlers, is to have entertainment and their favorite snacks for the entire flight. Always carry extra clothes and check-in one big bag on the plane. If there is a time change, make sure to book the flight near the time where they would be sleeping. Try to avoid connecting flights. If you have older kids, I would encourage you to purchase a journal for your kids to document all the fun travel.
I am a living example and true believer that travel does not have to stop once you have kids; you just plan a bit more strategically."
Teach the Importance of Culture
Learning about other cultures expands your horizons and understanding as a human. You learn to appreciate that people are different, and that’s a good thing.
Racism and prejudice are rooted in the belief that people have to look and be cultured in a certain way. Travel can help children learn lessons about culture and inclusion in their formative years. As more children learn, we can progress toward greater inclusion in generations to come.
Tiffany Alexander and her husband Neil have two children. When AskMen asked her about travel and children, she said: "I take at least a weekend trip around every six weeks or so, and internationally three to five times a year. My kids go on about 80% of the trips and at least one international trip per year.”
“It’s important for children to travel because it changes their perception. Once you realize most issues are bigger than yourself, you can change the world. But you’ve got to start in your corner. Teach your kids to be open to and learn from other cultures. Just because you’ve been taught one way doesn’t necessarily mean it is the most effective. Start them young by learning to be responsible," says Alexander.
Take a Step-By-Step Approach
There are so many options to travel that it can be overwhelming. The good news is that travel can be affordable. There’s an exciting trip near where you live, and international countries are waiting to be explored.
"Travel is essential for children. It teaches them so much about the world and gives them flexibility and adaptability. My daughter says, ‘mom, I’m a traveler.’ She can adapt to any situation because she has grown up traveling. It is the best education you can give your children,” says Julie Morey, solo mom (by choice) and frequent traveler.
“My advice for parents is to just do it — don’t overthink it. Start them young if you can, but don’t let that deter you. If it seems like a lot, start small. Do a weekend getaway, then a road trip, then a flight in the U.S., then a group trip internationally. Look up travel blogs by families that are traveling for tips.
My daughter came to Mexico with me when she was eight months old. On her second birthday, we flew to Bali, traveled through Malaysia, and then got stuck in Thailand for two months because of the pandemic. We lived on the beach, found a tribe of other families that were stuck, and had an amazing time.
We spent last summer in Costa Rica and are heading back to Mexico next week. We have also done a three-week road trip through California, Oregon, and Washington."
Take a road trip, book a weekend away, or get wild and book a trip to an international destination on your bucket list.
Travel can be a rich experience and teach life lessons when you understand it’s about more than seeing pretty things. When you know what travel can provide, your trips will never be the same.
"Considering we are now a global society, it’s essential that children see the world they’re part of and will steward one day. Interacting with people from different corners of the earth (or even just their home country) makes all the difference in how kids relate to others, their depth of emotional intelligence, and even their sense of self. If you’re looking to help your kids grow and have powerful developmental experiences, do your homework on safe, local places to explore. Introduce your kids to local people and have real conversations with them whenever possible. Get them immersed in the culture you’re exploring," says PollyAnna Brown, co-owner of M4 Mastery.
Give Yourself Permission
It’s been challenging for me to be far away from my children as we travel full-time. There’s a belief, as a parent, that you should be close and available for your children even after they become adults. Working with a therapist has helped me see that I don’t need permission to live the life I want to live. My children are out of the home and living their lives; it’s okay and good for me to live mine.
You may be a parent, but you’re also a human. Give yourself permission to do the things you want to do. You can travel and still be a good parent. Traveling frequently with children can be challenging but also rewarding. Whether you’re bringing your children or traveling solo as a parent, some tools and professionals can help.
The world is opening up again. Start strategically planning how you’ll explore it. And if you can, take your children on a trip with you — even if they’re adults.
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