I asked my husband to write about the benefits of traveling with kids. He came up with so many advantages of family travel, but just couldn’t stay serious… It’s not your usual ‘travel with kids because of cultural awareness’ article. Enjoy!
I hear you say: ‘Benefits, are you crazy? What benefits? It’s expensive to travel with kids, they fight in the car, they cannot sit still, they make noise on the plane, they have to run to the bathroom at the most inconvenient moments, they don’t like the food in the restaurants, you cannot go out late in the evening with kids…’
Yes there is all of that. But hey, think positive and look at the following great benefits of traveling with children.
1. You get more out of your vacations when you travel with kids
With kids you travel slower and see more
One of the biggest advantages of traveling with kids is that you travel slower. You see more and spend more time enjoying the beautiful scenery. As a result, you see all the little things which would have remained unnoticed if you were traveling without kids.
Your kids will notice lots of details that you didn’t see. “Oh dad, look at that dead snake!”. “SNAKE??? WHAT SNAKE? OMG, IT ISN’T DEAD!”
You get plenty of rest and your days are well filled with activities
If your kids are young you are likely to go to bed early… What else can you do? You cannot really go out, you cannot make too much noise in the room… So you get a good night’s sleep and feel well-rested and fit the next day!
And that is exactly what you’ll need because the kids will wake (you) up early in the morning too… When traveling with young children, it’s never a problem to get an early start of the day before it gets too crowded everywhere. You only have to find a place where they serve breakfast at 6 A.M….
With kids, you can do all kinds of crazy childish things
When traveling with children, you have a great excuse to do all kinds of crazy or childish things for which you are actually too old.
You can join them on a small ‘kids’ train, a rollercoaster, get lost in a maze… You can feed and cuddle the animals, you can roll down the sand dunes or jump over the waves in the sea like a little boy… You can even talk to cows when hiking in Switzerland… and no-one looks weirdly at you if you’re doing all this together with your kids!
2. Traveling with kids gives you all kinds of privileges
Behind the scenes access
You often get privileged access to places where you wouldn’t have been able to come without kids… With our kids we have been invited ‘behind the scenes’ at zoos, where the kids could feed and cuddle animals.
We met many captains on various boats throughout our travels and sometimes the kids could even hold the steering wheel and wear the captain’s hat..
Once we had the pleasure of being invited to sit behind the controls in the cockpit of a huge Airbus. All we did was mention to the stewardess that it was our son’s birthday… Very impressive with all these buttons! He wants to become a pilot now – and I always remind him of that when he has to do his maths.
Fast lanes and no queuing
At airports we often get fast lane access because we are traveling with kids. Immigration at the airport of Dubai took us less than 10 minutes, while passengers without children spent up to three hours in line… Or we could have waisted more than 400 EUR for a fast track pass…
In addition, kids get all kind of little attentions and gifts everywhere – a free book about the place you are visiting, a piece of cake at a local bakery or an ice cream which is too big for them… And guess who gets to finish it…
3. Kids travel free
We all know how expensive family travel can be. But don’t forget that often children travel free. They have free access to transportation (trains, buses, boats), discounts at hotels (if you can all squeeze in one room, of course), you have to pay less or no entrance fees for the kids when sightseeing, and often all kinds of day trips and excursions are free for young children too.
While at times you have to sit on a crowded boat wth the kids on your lap, sometimes it works to your advantage too! We have been on guided safari rides in Africa where the kids could come for free and – because we were with so many – they wouldn’t take any extra passengers in the same vehicle. So we often got a private guided safari tour for just our family at no extra cost. I’m still not sure if it was because there was a limit on the number of tourists per jeep or because the other tourists wanted to be ‘quiet’.
4. Flying with children is fun
Very often you can pre-board the plane if you are traveling with young kids. Even though it’s not always a good idea to add half an hour of sitting time to a long flight with kids, it still feels so great to be able to just skip the long queues of waiting passengers.
On the plane the cabin crew welcomes you with a huge smile (have you seen many flight attendants smile at you lately?). You have plenty of time to find your seats (no stressed people behind you pushing their caddies and bags through the narrow aisles) and to store your hand luggage in the still empty overhead lockers.
By the time the other passengers board the plane you are already nicely installed and you can enjoy watching them struggle to get to their seats and store their luggage…
Also, if the plane isn’t full you will notice that people whose seats are close to you are changing rows all of a sudden after the boarding is complete. Now you have plenty of room!
Are you anxious about taking your kids on the plane? We have some tips for easy flying with young children.
You get to eat more of that wonderful, healthy airplane food. If you ordered kids’ meals there is an almost 100% chance that they won’t eat it (all). So you get to finish their meals. Often the kid’s meals are better than the ‘adult’ plane food anyway, especially the desserts… And, you get to eat long before everyone else does!
The best part about flying with children comes right after they finish eating. They urgently need to clear their table in order to be able to play and you end up with a bunch of trays, open packages and half-empty glasses in front of you so you can hardly move. You can consider yourself lucky if your kids don’t urgently have to go to the bathroom right at that moment (which they usually do)…
This is actually an exception. Usually, traveling with children means you have more space. Read further…
5. Traveling as a family is more comfortable
You stay at bigger hotel rooms or apartments
You get bigger hotel rooms when traveling with children. Often, you either get a big family room, a junior suite, or two connecting rooms.
It costs a bit more, obviously, but it has so many benefits. You have lots of space, you often have two bathrooms (so you can take that nice long shower), sometimes you have a kitchen and can save lots of money on food. In addition, the kids can play in one room while you have a quiet time in the other room, and if your wife and you are having an argument you can both sleep in a separate room – “I’ll sleep with the kids tonight!”
You drive in a decent size car
Another benefit of traveling with kids is that you are obliged to get a bigger rental car. While it can certainly be fun to drive around in a Fiat 500cc, a Mini or a Smart… it’s definitely more comfortable and safe to drive around in a big van.
A bigger rental car will cost you more of course (however, we do have some tips on how you can save on car rental), but there are so many benefits! You have extra space to put your luggage, you can separate the kids so that they don’t fight too much. On top of that, you see better when sitting in a big car. For example, you’ll see a lot more animals during your safari drive from a big 4×4 than from a regular car.
It’s a pity they don’t rent cars with a separation screen between the front and the backseats. That way you could enjoy the beautiful landscape while your kids are fighting in the back…
You can read some tips about how we stay sane during long car rides with kids.
You dine more comfortably
You get bigger tables at restaurants. How often have you been seated at a small cozy table for two, the waiter brings a basket of bread and the table is full…
Well, when they see you arrive with little kids they get into panic mode. That means you automatically get a bigger table, often a lot bigger. Now you have plenty of space to put your belongings, the kids can draw, and there is even place left for food.
It is a bit unfortunate that these bigger tables are often in a quieter, more remote corner of the restaurant, but don’t worry it won’t remain quiet that long now that your kids are sitting there.
6. You’ll never get bored when traveling with kids
Kids keep you busy during long flights
Your kids know that you find flying boring and, because they love you, they will do all they can to save you from boredom. Don’t worry about that headset not working on a plane, you have no time to watch a movie anyway!
When a friendly flight attendant gives them some toys to keep them busy, they want to share it with you. .. ‘Dad, what do I have to do here?’ Dad, can you translate this for me?’, ’Dad, I just dropped my pen’, ‘Dad, I am missing a piece of my puzzle’…
And when they’re finished playing and risk to get bored, they decide they have to go to the washroom. Preferably when the stewards are coming through the aisles with their trolleys and it is impossible to reach the toilets without crawling over them… which the kids will do!
It’s easier to meet other people when traveling with children
Kids find other kids to play with and that gives parents a great opportunity to get to know other people too, whether it’s other travellers or locals.
How often do you say ‘Hi’ to a stranger when traveling as a couple? When you travel with kids, it just happens. All the time. And I’m not even talking about the pleasure of meeting hundreds of friendly Asian travellers smiling and nodding and asking to take a picture of your kids…
7. Quality time and shared memories
Throughout the year your kids are at school and you are working. You see them only in the evening when they have to do their homework and you are cooking, or on weekends when you are taxiing them around from one activity or birthday party to another…
When traveling with your family, you get to spend the whole day (and night) with your children. You do sightseeing together, you go hiking, you have picnics together, you often even sleep in the same room with them… They love it! You do too, sometimes… They will never forget the experience. And neither will you!
8. You can relax – they’re with you
It’s better to have your kids with you than to spend half of your vacation feeling guilty or worrying about them.
Take my word on this, you don’t feel too relaxed when you call home from your vacation paradise and hear that ‘everything is fine’ and, ‘by the way, your mother-in-law is not at home because she just had to drive your son to the hospital with a minor problem‘… And ‘by the way’ the heating is fixed now and there is a good chance your kids didn’t get a cold while it wasn’t working…
It’s so much more relaxed to have your kids with you! And if something were to happen to them it gives you an excellent opportunity to get acquainted with the local healthcare system…
Traveling with young children – nothing but advantages
See, going on vacation with young kids isn’t that bad after all.
Actually, it’s a lot better to take your kids on vacation when they’re young than when they are teenagers… Ever tried to get a teenager out of bed in the morning? ‘I want to sleep… please let me sleeeep!’ Or to get them to take off their headphones and watch the beautiful landscape? ‘Oh, we’ve seen that mountain already’. Or to go for a nice long walk in a beautiful canyon… ‘What do you mean there is no access to Facebook there???’
Still not convinced? In one of our previous posts we talked about why it’s never gonna be the perfect time to travel with kids.
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