How Travel Changes When You Have Children

Folks, we’re a month and a half into 2016. How the heck did that happen?

If you’re anything like me, as you look forward in the year, you consider carefully how you plan to spend your vacation time. Where will you travel to, what will you do, and who will you meet? There’s a world of possibilities in front of you… or are there?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to put a downer on my first travel post of the year, but it was towards the middle of December that I found an advertisement for hot air ballooning in Calgary and I though, “hey, that would be cool!”

And then reality sank in.

I’m now a parent.

travel with kids

All of a sudden, I can rattle off a list of activities and places around the world that I’d previously not have thought twice about doing or visiting. Riding a motorcycle – check. Bungee jumping – check. Skydiving – check. Rural Southeast Asia with its occasionally sketchy food and transportation – been there done that.

travel with kids

Luckily, I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of the things that I’m now wondering… will I ever get to do them again? I mean, physically, yes, I can do them. I can buy a ticket, or book the activity and just go.

BUT…

What if something happened? What if I injured myself badly and couldn’t care for my child?  What if somehow my child was caught up in the injury or trauma? What kind of parent would I be?

I mean, holy crap these were not thoughts that ever crossed my mind before, but I’m pretty sure I know someone whose mind they had crossed – my Mum’s. In 2006, when I did my round the world trip, I rattled off the list of cool and exciting things I was going to be doing in exotic locales. My Mum smiled, but I could tell there was mass hesitation in her eyes. She wanted to support my dreams and ambitions, but she was also terrified that something awful would happen to me.

My head went further down this dark hole, when I realized that some of my favourite travel bloggers continue their adventures, kids in tow. I wanted to know how they did it, what changed and

Enter Cameron Wears of Traveling Canucks! This cool Canadian couple have been all over the world, but their adventures didn’t stop once they had kids. Cameron was pretty awesome and allowed me the following interview:

travel with kids

How would you characterize your travel style pre-kids and post-kids?

Cameron: Before kids we were the backpacking/ budget travel type. We enjoyed adventurous afternoons and late evenings sampling local beer. We filled our day with sightseeing from sunrise to sunset, with little thought about schedules or timelines. We would arrive at a new destination without a hotel booked, opting to walk up and down streets to find a place that called to us. Simply put, we did very little planning and let things happen naturally. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was our preferred travel style.

Now, post kids, we have become insane planners. We book our flights months in advance, we always have accommodations lined up ahead of time and we rarely stay up past 9:00 PM. It’s a totally different approach to travel but we enjoy it just the same. We’ve exchanged late evenings at the pub for early mornings at the coffee shop. We do less and stop to smell the roses more often. It took some getting used to, but we’ve learned to appreciate travel on a whole new level. Kids have taught us that time is precious.

travel with kids

What has been the most surprising change to how you travel?

Cameron: The most surprising change is how much planning is required to travel with little ones. We used to travel with a backpack and carry on bag, now we travel with multiple suitcases, car seats, stroller, baby bags with toys, food and extra diapers/clothes, and, of course, two little humans that aren’t always on the same page. The first time we had a baby meltdown while going through airport security was fun! The overarching lesson is that life must slow down with children, even if you don’t want it to.

What safety concerns are you more worried about now compared to pre-kids travel? Has it changed the countries you choose to visit?

Cameron: Our youngest has a severe dairy and egg allergy, so that has certainly raised our level of concern when we travel. We have to read the ingredients of all items that our little one will ingest, so we now find ourselves leaning towards destinations that have English as a commonly spoken language. We also try to visit destinations that have direct flights, which has lead to more travel within North America and Europe (we live on the west coast of Canada in Vancouver, BC).
travel with kids

Do you feel a new sense of personal responsibility, of having to be safer yourselves in your travel activities, now that you have kids? If so, how?

Cameron: Absolutely. We have to scale back the types of adventures we want to do (i.e. overnight mountain hikes, scuba diving, snowboarding, etc) for more baby friendly activities like the beach or park. Last summer we did a road trip along the coast of New Brunswick in eastern Canada. One of the activities we did was a whale watching tour aboard a tall ship. It was beautiful boat but it had a very low rail that was nothing more than a thin cable. I was stressed the entire 4-hour tour. Every time either of my boys started to walk I jumped up to hold their hand out of fear they may fall overboard. It was probably unnecessary worry, but I couldn’t help myself. Now that we have little ones to look out for, it’s harder to relax when we’re in new environments.
Huge thanks to Traveling Canucks for sharing their insights on travel with kids with me. Check out their 13 Tips for Successful Baby Travel. This will be my bible for my upcoming trip to the UK!

It’s bloggers like these guys that make me feel that I can still continue having adventures with my baby. They’ll probably be very different adventures, but incredible life experiences nonetheless.

Have you experienced travel with kids? Did it change the way you traveled? What was different?

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