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 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.