Every time conversation turns to traveling with kids, people immediately start giving all kinds of reasons why they don’t (yet) travel with their children: my kids are too young, they are not good travellers, they are fussy eaters, they don’t sleep well in strange places, they will not handle a long flight (or a long car ride) well,… and probably the most popular one – the kids will not remember anything anyway.
When I talk to the same people a year or two later they tell me how much they would like to travel, but they use the same excuses as to why they don’t do it – yet…
If you have never used one of these excuses not to take your kids on a trip, you can stop reading now and start planning your next vacation.
Let me tell you a secret: there is never going to be the perfect time to travel with your children! And there will always be an excuse not to do it.
Something will come up and you will putt off your plans till next summer, next spring break, next year… And before you know it, your kids will be too old and will not want to travel with you.
A bit over a year ago we went on a sundowner safari ride at one of the lodges in Namibia and shared a jeep with another Belgian family who were traveling with their kids of 16-18 years old. They couldn’t believe we were doing a road trip in Namibia with three young kids. They told us that this was only their second trip with their children and that they were sorry that they didn’t travel with their kids when they were younger. ‘We just didn’t dare. We realise now what we had missed’, they said.
10 most popular excuses not to travel with children
To tell you the truth, I also have some worries when we take our kids on a trip. The difference is that I don’t use them as an excuse not to travel. We just do it and figure out the rest along the way.
Excuse no. 1 – We don’t travel with kids because they will not remember anything
Think of a latest trip you made. And the one before that. Think of something you did when you were 20. Now be honest with yourself – do you remember everything you did back then? I don’t! My husband certainly doesn’t. What we remember is often not much more than some details, funny stories, people we met, impressions, tastes, sounds, emotions… All the rest we ‘remember’ when we look at the pictures, read the travel diary, or when we see something that reminds us of the places we visited.
When I ask my kids what they remember of their trip to Australia two years ago, they usually say they don’t remember much. But then all of the sudden one of them asks ‘is it that trip where we were running behind kangaroos trying to cuddle them?’ ‘And do you remember that bird – it stole daddy’s sandwich, didn’t it?’ – says the other one. ‘Oh, and was it there where we were rolling down the red sand dunes and where I saw those elephants before anyone else did? And where we saw a koala crossing the road…’
People grow through experience and it’s your experiences that shape you. Not the memories.
They may not remember every detail of the specific trip or mix it all up, but they did experience all of it and all those experiences are worth more than the precise knowledge of where and when you travelled and what exactly you saw at one or the other place.
Excuse no. 2 – Our kids are too young
‘I can’t really take a 5 (or a 2,3,… just fill it in) year old on a trip. He cannot do much and thus we will not be able to do anything either’.
Yes you can! All you have to do is plan your trip accordingly. It’s true that there will be some things that you will not be able to do on a trip, but there are always plenty alternatives and if you want to you can travel almost anywhere with children of any age.
Here you can find more tips about traveling the world with young children.
Excuse no. 3 – My kids will never survive a long-haul flight
It’s amazing how often this excuse is used! If we can take three kids under 5 on a 28-hour long flight (with 2 stop-overs) to Australia, then you really have nothing to worry about on a 10-hour flight. Really!
And since you are still worried (I can see it), go ahead and read our Flying with Children Made Easy guide and you’ll feel less anxious about taking children on a plane next time.
Excuse no. 4 – Our children are terrible travellers, they can’t sit still in a car
It’s a tough one, because it’s true – no child can sit still for a long period of time. Not in a car, and not anywhere else. It’s against their nature. You just have to learn to live with it. If it can be of any consolation, I can tell you that it does get (a bit) better with the years.
When we travel overseas we usually go on road trips, which means that we spend many hours in the car every day. Here you can red more about how we (and our kids) handle long car rides.
Excuse no. 5 – My kids don’t sleep well in strange places
This is a single most frustrating aspect of any trip for us. Not that our kids don’t sleep well. It just takes them ages to fall asleep in the evening because they usually share a room when traveling and they just have so much to tell each other in the evening.
Tire your kids with all kinds of activities and new impressions during the day and you will have less problems getting them to sleep in the evening
We hardly ever have this problem when we are on a road trip though. We sleep at so many different hotels during the trip that it’s a different experience every night. Kids are usually very excited about each new place and so engaged in the lengthy process of deciding about who will sleep where that they forget to be difficult. They are also usually very tired after a long day full of new impressions, that they fall asleep much easier than they do at home or when we stay at the same hotel for days in a row.
Excuse no. 6 – My kids are fussy eaters – it’s difficult to find something they like when traveling
Our kids can also be difficult about food. There is a whole list of ‘I don’t eat that….’ at home. But while on the road, they eat pretty much everything… They tried oysters and ate crocodile steak in South Africa, they preferred kangaroo steak over spaghetti in Australia, and they couldn’t get enough of springbok antelope steak and squash vegetables in Namibia…
You can always find something to eat for your kids, anywhere in the world. Most hotels make extra effort to prepare special children’s meals and there is always a possibility of buying some snacks at a local store if you are really worried that you will not find anything suitable at a particular place or hotel…
Excuse no. 7 – We don’t have time for a far trip – school holidays are so short
Our three kids are all going to school and we are also bound to the strict rules and can only travel during school holidays. It’s not always easy to plan a trip during the school holidays as your time is limited, it’s much more expensive, and on top of that it’s simply not the best time to visit certain places…
Don’t let this be an excuse! There is always a destination which can be visited during the specific vacation you have in mind. Some places are so far away that it would be a waste of time and money to go there for a week or even two, but there are plenty destinations where a week is more than enough to see the most worthy places.
Excuse no. 8 – Traveling with a family is expensive
Yes, and no. Traveling has indeed become very expensive recently. But then again, there are always cheaper alternatives: cheaper flights, cheaper rental cars, and cheaper hotels. Or, if it’s really above the budget, alternative destinations…
You can always find a way to travel that suits your budget
Thanks to the Internet, you can find some great deals on flights and hotels using websites like, for example, my favourite Momondo (for the flights) and Booking.com (for the hotels). It’s usually much cheaper to travel by car than by plane, certainly as a family. Even if it means you have to drive a day or even two just to get somewhere. Why not turn it into a road trip instead and visit some nice places along the way..
There are also plenty of other ways not to spend too much money during vacation. You can find a couple of tips we use during our trips in this article: Tips and tricks for traveling the world as a family.
Excuse no. 9 – It’s too late for this year, we’ll do it next time
The truth is, you probably won’t. If you want to travel, then just do it.
It might be difficult to book a complete road trip for a certain destination last minute, but don’t let that stop you – you can always inform about the possibilities.
Alternatively, look for another destination. You may be lucky to find some last-minute deals for the flights and hotels and travel to the places you didn’t even think about in the first place.
Something to think about: if you really want to make a nice trip, but are too late to make your own arrangements or don’t know where to start, look for a group tour instead. They usually have plane seats and hotels reserved in advance and you might even be lucky to get a discount if they really want to get the group going.
Excuse no. 10 – I don’t know where to start
Granted, not everyone has the time and desire to spend hours and hours planning a perfect trip. You can go to a travel agent and let them handle all the arrangements for you, yet travel individually. Alternatively, you can opt for a group tour.
While not my first choice when it comes to traveling with children, group tours can be the perfect way to travel and see the world for first-time travellers, singles, or for people who just want to enjoy their vacation and have nothing to worry about.
We never took our kids on a group tour, but years ago we travelled to China and India on an organised tour and just recently I spent a week in Iceland with a small group. Sometimes it’s just easier and it’s not always more expensive.
As already said in one of my earlier posts, I would recommend to look for a small group tour as they give you a much more authentic travel experience. Take a look at the big variety of worldwide trips offered by Intrepid. They have small group tours, group tours for families, but also self-discovery trips… Plenty of inspiration!
There are so many excuses and reasons not to travel with children… It’s never the perfect time…
Stop making excuses.
Go ahead and plan a trip with your family.
You don’t have to start with a 4-week road trip in Africa if you never travelled before… But you don’t have to spend all of your vacations at the beach or by the pool either!
Take your kids on a short trip to a nearby country or another state, make a city trip, go on a cruise, or go hiking or camping. Once you set the first step you will be hooked and will never look back.
The whole world is waiting to be discovered. It’s full of possibilities. You just have to dare to start.
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