Think travelling or a road trip with the kids is hard? What if there’s a secret? This is it!
We asked 13 of the world’s top family travel bloggers one simple question:
What is the single biggest lesson you learnt travelling with kids that you wish you knew before you first hit the road?
As a family accommodation resort in one of Australia’s favourite towns, we wanted to know how these amazing families manage to spend months or years travelling the country (or the world) with their kids, and still be sane at the end of it.
There was so much information out there we were overwhelmed! Instead we went straight to the source asking the best international and Australian family travel bloggers about their biggest lessons for travelling with children. This is what they shared:
- There’s an adjustment period
- Be realistic
- Pace yourself
- The art of slow travel
- Education on the road
- Your children are more than capable
- The world is a positive place
- Family travel is accessible
- Planning is key
- Anything is possible
- Don’t try to do everything
- Your children will learn while travelling
- Travelling with kids gives you local insights
1. There’s An Adjustment Period
From Trip In A Van
Justin, Bec and their three children Jack, Billy and Charli are from Newcastle, Australia. They left home for the road in 2015 and have been travelling Australia in their van ever since! Their biggest lesson for travelling with a young family was about adjustment;
Our biggest lesson was that the kids needed an adjustment period to ease into van life. It took our kids around 6 weeks to adapt to living all together in the caravan. If we had known this was going to happen, we probably could have helped to reduce it to around 4weeks or maybe less by relaxing a bit, knowing that they will all be happy little nomads in no time.
2. Be Realistic
From yTravel Blog
From the Central Coast of NSW Australia, Caz and Craig have travelled to 52 countries with their two daughters Kalyra and Savannah. On their journey to collect memories over possessions, their biggest family travel secret was to be realistic;
Our biggest lesson learned was to slow down. Be realistic about what you can see and do when traveling with kids. Don’t try to cram too much into your itinerary and try to do your activities in the morning so you can relax in the afternoon. Everyone will need it.
The less you feel you have to see, the more enjoyable and stress-free for everyone.
For the most part, the pace of the trip should be set to what your youngest child can handle. Build into your agenda time for stops along the way for bathroom breaks, snack breaks, and nap time.
If you can avoid tired and cranky children it will make for a much more pleasant family travel experience.
3. Pace Yourself
Katja is a lifelong traveller and travel writer who shares travel advice and stories from her own family experiences. She’s travelled and lived in India, Australia, Mexico, the UK and everywhere in between. Katja’s biggest family travel secret was about pacing yourself;
There are two lessons that I learned when I first started travelling with kids.
The first is that you have to slow down. It doesn’t matter that you want to visit every museum in town or see all the archaeological sites; when you travel with kids, you have to move at a more gentle pace. My general rule of thumb is to sight see in the morning and then find a pool or an ice cream shop in the afternoon, thereby keeping everyone happy.
The second thing I wish that I had known is that you really don’t need to take your car seat on a plane. You have enough kit to cart around when you travel with kids as it is, you don’t need to add a car seat to your hand luggage!
4. The Art Of Slow Travel
From Tin Box Traveller
Claire runs the UK family travel blog Tin Box Traveller and shares her family’s adventures and experiences from across the UK and around the world. She started her adventures in a caravan called Tin Box. Claire’s biggest family travel lesson is about ‘slow travel’;
Our biggest lesson learnt is that travelling with kids is slower paced than when we were on the road as a couple. We pause more during road trips. We take longer to explore cities and we sit down to appreciate a sea view (usually with a bucket, spade and ice cream).
And the great thing is that it has enriched our travels. We experience places like locals and often strike up more conversations with them because of the children. Slow travel has been our greatest discovery as parents and as a travelling family.
5. Education On The Road
From Travelling Australia With Kids
From Western Australia, Mandy has spent two years travelling Australia in a caravan with her husband and three school age children. She shares a wealth of knowledge and advice with her followers, including her biggest lesson about education on the road;
The single biggest thing that I wish I’d have known when planning our trip around Australia was that I would not let the children down with their schooling. My three were 6, 8 and 9 when we set off on our trip and I was terrified I’d fail them.
I wish I’d have known that they would still learn and that all the worry and anxiety surrounding schooling on the road was unnecessary. They did not miss out, they saw amazing places around Australia and came back after two years on the road well educated, more confident and more worldly kids.
6. Your Children Are More Than Capable
From Adventure & Sunshine
Rachel and Matt are true adventure travellers, and have introduced their children Amelie and Harvey to the lifestyle racking up visits to 32 countries as a family. Rachel’s biggest family travel lesson was all about how capable children can be;
We travelled the world with our kids for 12 months when they were ten and eight years old. From pretty Paris streets, to the Botswana wilderness and the majestic forts of India, we ventured as a family across stunning and unique landscapes. What did we learn?
We discovered our children are physically and mentally capable of far more than we imagined. Hiking 20 kilometres. Embracing cultural differences. Walking 40,000 steps across Tokyo in a single day! This discovery has transformed our family holidays. We push the boundaries and embrace adventure. Don’t underestimate your kids. They might surprise you. Just make sure you have some treats at the ready.
7. The World Is A Positive Place
From Travel With Bender
After leaving home in Perth, Australia in 2012, the Bender family have been nomad world travellers ever since – travelling to over 65+ countries to date. Dad Josh said his biggest family travel lesson was how positive his experiences have been;
The biggest thing I discovered from travelling with kids is that the world is much more accessible and friendly then you may think if you just watch TV. Almost all my kids’ experiences have been positive in the 65+ countries they’ve visited.
Kids and adults alike, in all countries, were consistently friendly and welcoming. My kids discovered they had a lot more in common with kids in Guatemala or Romania than they may have first thought. And I discovered that my kids were far more capable and robust than I expected.
8. Family Travel Is Accessible
From Wandering Wagars
Kevin and Christina are world travellers and utilise each trip as an educational experience for their two young boys. Kevin shared his biggest family travel lesson with us about how accessible the world really is;
Traveling with kids is amazing. But like all parents, we were first timers too once. And I wish that we knew just how accessible travel with children was.
We have been shocked by just how many incredible things our children have been able to do. And every time we travel, we push our limits a little bit further, and each time our little ones blow away our expectations. From the peaks of Machu Picchu to the Deserts of Jordan, nothing has been too much of an adventure.
9. Planning Is Key
From Boy Eats World
Aleney is an Australian mum whose two kids Raffles and Sugarpuff almost put her passion for travel to shame with their own YouTube channel and travel advice for parents! Aleney says her biggest lesson is all about planning;
Before our kids came along and joined our travelling circus, travelling was mostly about picking a random destination on a whim, finding a super cheap deal, lobbing a bikini, a book and a camera in a backpack and hitting the road.
But it became apparent very fast that this wouldn’t work when travelling with two kids in tow. Mostly because travelling with kids, while incredibly fun and fulfilling, is a little like herding cats. It turns out that planning, money… and actual clothes are the key to a successful family holiday. And after traipsing through 25 countries with my tiny travellers, both the kids now join in on the planning, which has added a whole new level of fun for all of us.
10. Anything Is Possible
From TraveLynn Family
Jenny with her husband Jason, and two children Aurthur and Ezra, set out from their home in the UK and have explored 13 countries as a family in the last four years. Jenny’s biggest family travel lesson is that anything is possible;
We had travelled extensively before having kids, and hoped that things wouldn’t change once I became pregnant. Travelling always meant the world to us and we wanted to raise open minded, global citizens, with a lust for adventure. However, parenting can be a tough gig, kids are unpredictable and thrive on routine, and it’s more expensive paying for a family of four to travel than a couple. I had concerns that becoming a parent would mean changing the way we travel drastically.
However, I’m actually typing this sat outside our Landover Defender at a campsite in South Africa. Our two boys (now aged 2 and 4) are fast asleep in the roof tent as my husband prepares the paperwork for our border crossing to Mozambique in the morning. We’re just at the start of a 4 month overland adventure through Africa.
I really had nothing to worry about in those early days. The single biggest lesson I’ve learnt is that adventure travel with young kids is indeed possible, and it’s certainly more rewarding with them along for the ride.
11. Don’t Try To Do Everything
From Suitcases and Sandcastles
Clare runs this inspiring and entertaining family travel blog with stories and tips from family adventures with her two boys. Her passion is for slow travel, so you really get to soak it all in – and it works great for families! Clare shared her biggest family travel lesson about not trying to do everything;
Slow down. If you’re visiting a city, don’t try and do everything. Kids can find cultural sights just as interesting as the adults but you need to find something that engages them and makes it fun. It’s no fun for anybody in the family if you try and see everything in the guide book.
It’s far better to see a few things well with engaged and interested kids than rushing around lots of sights with tired, cranky children. Break up the cultural activities with visits to local playgrounds and fun foodie quests like finding the city’s best ice cream or hot chocolate.
12. Your Children Will Learn While Travelling
From Travel At The Speed Of Life
Yasmin and husband Graeme jumped right in the deep end – selling their house and possessions to fund their incredible Australian road trip adventure with their two children Blake and Alexandra. Yasmin says her biggest worry and lesson was about schooling;
The thing most people worry about when travelling with kids is schooling. Don’t worry about the schooling!
They learn so much while travelling, and it’s easy to cover curriculum items from history, geography, maths and physics, too biology, chemistry, art and language and culture just through the things you do day to day. They will be reading a lot, and you can get involved by helping them learn more about the places you visit and the things you see by reading more about them at libraries or online.
When you get back, you’ll find your kids fit straight back into school, but they’re minds will be open and their education broadened. Just go, enjoy your travels, and don’t worry about the schooling!
13. Travelling With Kids Gives You Local Insights
From Families Go
Eileen with her husband Rich and young daughter had so many questions about family travel that they took it upon themselves to document their own experiences with great advice, guides and lessons of the places they’ve been. Eileen shared that her biggest family travel lesson was how travelling with kids opens up the places you visit;
The single biggest lesson we’ve learned by travelling with a child is that slowing down is not a bad thing and can actually open up interesting opportunities. We used to be those folks who were up at the crack of dawn, constantly moving, seeing and doing as much as we could because that’s how you make the most of a destination and your vacation time.
But kids can’t go all day. They need playground breaks, ice cream breaks and restful breaks. And you know what, seeking out parks and playgrounds have taken us to parts of cities and towns never would have seen otherwise.
We’ve discovered cute residential neighbourhoods. We’ve learned that many European cities and towns have amazing public pools. And stopping to look around a neighbourhood park, swimming in a city pool, stopping for lunch in a little neighbourhood restaurant shows you how people in a city really live and give you insights into the place and culture you would never get by just squeezing in as many churches, museums and must-try restaurants as you can.
In some ways travelling with a kid has moved us further toward being travellers and away from being mere tourists.
A huge thank you to our featured bloggers for taking the time out of their own family holidays to answer this question for us.
Now you can plan your next family adventure! Start out big or small, follow this advice from the world’s top family travel bloggers and create memories that will last a lifetime.
If you’re still not convinced we have one final secret weapon sure to please mum, dad and kids of all ages – come to our place! We’ve got everything covered to please even the most stubborn teen or excited toddler.
Did your parents take you on a family holiday as a young kid? Where did you go? We’d love to hear about your old or new family travel adventures!