Something happens to us when we have children. We think that our lives need to be put on hold and we need to “wait” for certain things to come into our lives. We go from living our lives for ourselves, to living our lives for these little people. Many of us are definitely waiting to enjoy family travel.
“We can’t go out to dinner anymore”
“We’ll need to wait on that until little Jane is in pre-school”
“We can’t stay out past 10! We have kids at home”
“Oh I would never leave my kids with a babysitter…they need their parents”
and last but not least…
“The kids will never remember the trip. Why bother?”
Sounds familiar? It’s the myth of waiting to enjoy family travel. We live our lives in stages and usually do not deviate. Stage one: meet spouse/partner. Stage two: fall in love. Stage three: commit and start building a life together – but make sure you have a stable job first – you wouldn’t want to be too hasty! 😉 Stage four: Have children. Stage five: Die.
Just kidding on that last part. But often “see things” and “travel” and aren’t in the progression. We, as a society are very regimented in the way our lives are “supposed” to look. We are waiting on our life to happen. When I was a young adult, I was fortunate to have a college degree (paid for by amazing parents) and upon leaving college, the natural next step was getting a corporate, 9-5 job. It never occurred to me that I could have a career utilizing my passion – either photography or travel. My job should be from 8:30 in the morning until 5:30 at night, upon which I will go home, eat dinner, sleep and repeat the next day, I thought.
Even when I moved to Vail, Colorado to become a ski bum, I got a 9 to 5 job, instead of working in a flexible job so I could ski during the day. What was I thinking? It took me years to figure out that I could have a responsible life and actually enjoy it, as well.
Which brings me to traveling, and traveling while having a family. I’ve seen several Facebook threads in the past week about traveling and people who have put off traveling their whole life, even thought they really want to do it.
This is the great myth of waiting to enjoy family travel. I’ve asked a lot of people. What are you waiting for? The answers?
- time off work
- fear of getting on an airplane with a baby
- planning the trip
- language barriers with a different country
- they should be saving for college
- their kids won’t “appreciate” or remember it
Money. This is obvious. Kids are expensive, I get it. And they only get more expensive as they get older. But traveling doesn’t have to break the bank. Start small. A camping trip. An Amtrak train ride across the country. We did the California Zephyr when I was in 6th grade from Chicago to Sacramento and it’s one of my favorite childhood memories. Dying to see the white sand beaches of Florida? Stay at a Holiday Inn and just do it. Dreaming of the Grand Canyon? Drive and find a campground nearby. Even when times are tight, you can always make money. You may not ever be wealthy, but you can always make money. Decide what’s more important to you….the dinner out or a trip to Florida. And, as selfish as it sounds, decide whether your 6-year-old really needs gymnastics class at $90/month or do you want to save for an epic trip. If the answer is gymnastics, plan a different type of trip.
Time off work. Americans work a lot. It’s ingrained in us. I’m shocked at the amount of people who have told me they either don’t get any vacation time at all, or they get two weeks max. To which I say….get a different job. Seriously. Because that is ridiculous. There are thousands upon thousands of flex jobs out there that offer all sorts of different schedules, maternity leave, paternity leave, etc. And I get that it’s scary and people feel trapped with a family to support, etc, but less than two weeks off out of 365 days is life draining. Are you working at McDonald’s while going to school? First of all – good for you and you’re awesome. You may have to work towards this goal for a few years. But the second you get that degree, time to find a job that values you as a person and not pure labor (and maybe McDonalds gives great time off – I have no idea). This may resonate with some people and not with others and I may get some hate mail along the lines of “not all of us can afford to leave our jobs with 4 kids at home”, but all I can say is, if you really really want to travel more, and your job is refusing to work with you on that, then it’s time to re-evaluate. If you’re ok with it and not wanting to travel, than pay no attention to this blog. 🙂
Fear of flying with children. You’re afraid that your kids are going to make a scene and cry and carry on and everyone in the plane is going to hate you. Get over it. You’re never seeing these people again.
Planning the trip. Call me 🙂
Language barriers in a different country. Not being able to communicate is a real fear. Landing in a different country and having no idea how to get to a hotel and no one to ask is daunting. We, as Americans, are fortunate. Most people from other countries learn English starting at a very young age and are fairly fluent. There is always someone who speaks English somewhere. But what if you’re from Argentina and you’re in France? Well, you probably all speak English so there’s always that but, barring that, find a translator app for your phone. Google translate is your friend! Also, smiling and trying out a few words in the native language goes a long way. People like to help more than we realize.
Saving for college. We’re all doing this. Or at least most of us are. But the reality is that, for most families, college is going to be prohibitively expensive in the U.S by 2025. Without a doubt, save and be responsible. But don’t kid yourself that never going anywhere, traveling or seeing anything is going to magically get your kid’s college paid for because you’ll have that much more money saved up. We’re all going to need help, so why worry and stress about the inevitable. Your trip to Mexico for Spring Break doesn’t mean that junior will have to skip college – unless you’re totally irresponsible and staying in a Four Seasons when you can’t afford it.
The kids won’t remember it or appreciate it. Um, how do I say this politely…..who cares. You’ll remember it. You’ll love it. You’ll be happy to check something off your bucket list. Since when is traveling only for the children? And I have some news….that non-appreciation goes on a looooong time. My parents first took me to Europe when I was 17 and I complained and moaned the whole time because I missed my idiot boyfriend. Are you really going to put off traveling until your children are full-blown adults?
Phew. I started this post thinking it would be short and sweet and it turned into over 1300 words! I hope it inspired people to deal with the travel bug and overcome some obstacles. Every family is different and every family has limitations of some sort. Figure out what those limitations are, problem solve, save money, plan in advance and get out there and see something! Traveling doesn’t have to mean first class tickets to Europe and a 5 start hotel in Rome. Think about what your family would enjoy most and go do it.
What are your fears or reasons for waiting to enjoy family travel?
Don’t want to wait any more? Contact me here and I can help!