Why and Why Not Travel With Kids? Family / Travel

In our travels, we rarely meet others traveling with their kids, especially in backpacker havens like Cusco. To some it might seem odd to take a vacation with your children, since a vacation is often seen as a break from the kids. And there are definitely times when that break is welcome. But there are also good reasons to take your children with you on a vacation, even internationally. I’d like to list below some of the advantages and disadvantages we’ve found to traveling with young children.

Why and Why Not Travel With Kids- (1)

Why travel with kids?

  • You get to skip to the front of airport lines, including security checks, customs, and boarding. This usually only applies if you’re traveling with “young” children, the definition of which seems to depend on the airline or airport; but in general, if you have a kid under 7 with you, then you qualify.
  • Kids help you slow down and take life at a less rushed pace, appreciating little things you’d normally overlook – like the bug on the sidewalk – as long as you’re willing to do so.
  • You can watch your kids’ untainted first reactions to new sights and sounds. Their questions and comments can bring interesting new perspectives that you otherwise wouldn’t consider.
  • Kids give you lots of excuses for treats and ice cream, although I guess this could be good or bad.
  • Be a hit with the locals. Especially in countries where you look different than the locals, you’ll stand out and draw attention to yourself effortlessly. We often get approached by people who just want to tell us how cute our kids are, or who want a picture with them. Just having kids with you makes it easier to meet people.
  • Get out of traffic tickets. Okay, this one’s not guaranteed, but I’ve seen a few traffic policeman smile when they see the kids in the back seat, and I believe it even got me out of a ticket once. I think you’re less suspicious when you travel as a family.
  • You have a constant opportunity to teach and answer questions, since kids are very curious about what’s around them.
  • You don’t have to worry about where your kids are or what they’re doing with whoever is watching them somewhere else across the globe.
  • You get to see their cute faces and hear their sweet voices every day, with lots of hugs, kisses, cuddles, and I love you’s.

Why not travel with kids?

  • Traveling with kids is more expensive than not, since you’re paying for extra people; although most hotels, restaurants, and activities offer discounted rates for kids.
  • There are many activities you can’t do when you have kids along, depending on their ages. Scuba diving, river rafting, long hikes, or other high adventure activities don’t work so well with kids. Neither does night life. You can often find a babysitter to watch your kids while you’re doing those activities, but it can be a hassle and expensive.
  • Occasional whining, crying, and complaining about boredom during activities you find more interesting than them. For example, some kids might not like museums or lots of walking, etc.
  • Traveling with kids gives you another head to be concerned about. You’re always on guard to prevent injuries, and make sure everyone stays together and safe. Despite what the news media says, kidnappings are extremely rare, even in the most “dangerous” countries. Just keep a close watch on your kids, hold their hands in public places, and you shouldn’t have any trouble.
  • It’s harder to get a break from them. Sometimes, even while traveling, you’ll want a break from your kids. Getting a hotel or rental with separate bedrooms rooms can help, allowing you to rest while your kids play somewhere else. Some hotels even offer babysitting services (usually for a high price) if you want to go do something on your own.

Now it’s your turn. What benefits and disadvantages have you found to traveling with children? Do you have any experiences to share? Leave them in the comments below.


Brandon is a location independent entrepreneur, musician, traveler, worldschooling father, and the principal author of this blog. He's all about reaching his potential and enjoying life to the fullest in every moment while inspiring others to do the same.


Comments

  1. There really are so many advantages to traveling with children, and in my opinion, they far outweigh the disadvantages. That being said, I’m sure it is much easier to travel with one or two kids than it would be to travel with three or four. I just love all the extra love, excitement, and fun they bring into our experiences. There are some challenges, to be sure, but those times help us develop and grow more as parents as well. :) So, it’s a win-win situation. However, it really can be nice to find a little space just for the adults every once in a while too. It has always been very refreshing, mostly just being able to really talk and focus together without interruptions.

    • Yes, especially for long-term travel, I think taking time for just the adults is essential. I’ve sure loved the time we spend reading and relaxing together while the kids play on their own. Even going to public parks has been great for that, giving us the chance to sit on the bench for a few minutes and rest. I’m glad we have our kids with us.

  2. Yeah… It all depends on what you are doing…..
    If there are a lot of activities with the kids in mind…. But if not….. For instance, my wife and I love the outdoors but our kids hate it….. We are looking forward to camping again :)

    • Good thoughts, Andrew. No point taking kids to do something they won’t enjoy. Jen and I always take our anniversary trips without the kids, too. Some activities are just easier and more enjoyable that way.

  3. I was never able to afford to take my kids anywhere really cool when they were little – just the long road trips to Disneyland or Yellowstone, so I don’t have experience with with the joys of flight travel with kids.

    However – I loved being able to share Hawaii with my kids as teenagers. Even though I really didn’t have the money then either, it was worth every penny to have those experiences create those memories together.

    • I will always remember that Hawaii trip! It was one of the highlights of my teen years! I’m glad you sacrificed to make it a reality for all of us. The road trips were fun, too, but further in the past so I don’t remember them as well. :)

  4. Yeah, I think it depends on where you’re going and what you’re planning on doing. Disneyland- definitely take children. Hawaii-…. maybe, maybe not. For me, I wouldn’t want to take Kennedy to Hawaii when she’s this young, because (a) she won’t remember it as well as when she is older, and (b) she can’t/won’t want to do a lot of the activities I like to do there. Oh- and (c) It’s quite a bit more money to take a third person to a place like Hawaii, especially if they won’t enjoy it that much.

    But Disneyland, a visit to grandma, Costa Rica ( :) ), camping, etc, are all great family vacations to take kids on. I think you just need to plan your trip according to whether or not a kid is coming. If we bring Kennedy, we’ll make sure to plan for a lot of stuff that she’d enjoy doing. If we’re traveling without her, we’d probably skip that stuff and focus on what we would like to do that she can’t or wouldn’t want to :)

    • Yes, that definitely makes sense. There are certainly times to travel with the kids and times to travel without them, and that can make all the difference with what you do on the trip.

  5. Oh- and I completely remember Hawaii as a teenager… that was such a fun trip!

  6. We’re planning a trip to Europe this December, and it’s definitely gonna be interesting having both kids with us for three and half weeks, 24 hours a day in a foreign environment. We’re hoping that it will really expand the kids horizon and help them appreciate travel for the great experience that it is.

    • That’s great, Larry. Our first experience taking our kids on an international vacation was when we took them to Panama for 6 weeks. We thought we’d go crazy, but it ended up bringing us closer together than we ever thought, and was such a great experience for all of us – it opened our eyes to new ways to view the world. I hope you have a fabulous time in Europe!

  7. Wow 6 weeks for the first trip. You guys are brave.

    • :) I don’t know about brave. We just wanted to be there long enough to enjoy seeing the country without feeling rushed. You can read about our experiences under the Travel -> Panama section of the blog.

  8. We are traveling to Costa Rica with young kids (3 and 9 months) soon. I’m glad you put in here that you can skip to the front of the flight lines with your kids. I didn’t know that.
    I often think about high-adventure things that we would like to do while there, and our anniversary happens to be during our time there. However, I worry about trusting our kids with someone we don’t know in a foreign place. How have you found babysitters you can trust?

    • On short trips, we usually don’t utilize babysitter services much, but there is often the option of utilizing a hotel’s babysitting service.

      Here in Costa Rica where we live, we’ve been able to make some local friends who’ve been happy to watch our kids while we go on short trips. Depending on where you go, it can also be very affordable to hire a nanny to watch your kids, but you usually have to ask around with the locals to find one.

  9. We are travelling with a 2 year old and a 3 year old and people call us crazy – we are loving it! There are moments where a break would be nice, but a nanny in Bali is pretty cheap.. And being close to family in Australia we have had lots of visitors too :)

  10. We have traveled quite a bit with our kids, beginning when our oldest was just 5 weeks old. Like you mentioned in the post, having kids with you opens so many doors with the locals. When we were in Turkey with our little girl who was six months old at the time people were so friendly. Every couple of feet someone would come up and talk to her and bless her. At every meal the wait staff would ask to pick her up and would play with her the entire time we ate. I have never seen a culture that so loves children. We would have never realized any of this if we had traveled with the kids.

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