As anyone who has been here for a while knows, I’m a huge sucker for family travel. So I’m here today to talk about how to make family travel work.
Let’s start out with a public service announcement to check the expiration dates of your passports often.
Because when we booked our flights for spring break to visit my brother, we realized Lucy’s had expired.
Thank heavens we have a national passport agency within driving distance, and that we could get an appointment!
So Lu and I spent the day driving and waiting in that office while all the other kids were at home.
Of course we missed being with them, but we were also overwhelmed with gratitude that we could be there (even if it took all day…which it did!) and come out with new passports!
(Mine was going to expire in 8 months so we decided to go ahead and get it renewed as well.)
The family was waiting for us with home-made dinner all prepared, and even a celebration tunnel when we got home:
(Lu joined in after she went through…and even Carson was there on FaceTime on Elle’s phone at the end.)
Totally made that trip worth it.
Sure love these guys.
If you’re traveling internationally some time soon…go check those passports!
But what we’re really here for today is to talk about how to make family travel work.
How to make travel happen with your family
So many moms have asked me through the years about travel.
Some thinking we are a little bit nutty to do it as much as we do, ha!
But mostly people have asked HOW can they make it happen.
A podcast with some answers
Well, the podcast we posted last week on In the Arena is for you! (both the ones wondering why we’re so gaga about traveling and also those wishing they could make it happen).
My sister’s and I go through all kinds of tips and tricks we have learned over the years, including:
- How to pack
- How to keep kids entertained while traveling
- How to budget for traveling
- How to use credit card points for travel
- What kinds of accommodations we like to stay in
So go listen to that podcast if that interests you!
I think it’s also so important to mention that there are different “seasons” when traveling works, and when it doesn’t.
And that’s ok!
If you’re not traveling any time soon, but dying to do so, this may help:
Being patient with family travel.
I got this question a few years ago on the blog:
I am a mother of 3 girls, ages 6 1/2, 2 1/2, and 8 months. They bring me joy daily as well as challenging my patience. I am sure most mothers would make the same statement.
I am not trying to get too personal with you…after all, I have never actually met you, and you don’t know me from Eve, but I’ve noticed that you and your family are able to travel quite a bit and I am sure in the process create many memories doing so. Have you and your family always been able to do this, even when you had little ones?
It will be a while before our young family can afford to travel, even little trips, because of financial goals (which I am logically happy about, but emotionally annoyed with ) we have made. It is difficult to travel with little ones, as well as not financially feasible, but I am wondering what we do in the meantime to help create memories as a family and what I can do to not go stir crazy while spending 98% of my time at home.
Back in the early years, I pined away to travel. I had grown up traveling and became hopelessly addicted to how the world opened up to me as we soaked in the cultures of different countries. I figured that is what every family should do.
And then I got married.
And Dave and I got real jobs we couldn’t leave to travel the world on a whim.
Plus, those jobs didn’t pay us much money.
And then I got pregnant.
It was around then that my family decided to go on a service “expedition” to Africa.
And then they went to Bolivia.
They saw and hiked Machu Picchu.
They built water-wells for small African villages.
They went on an African safari.
They hiked Mount Kilimanjaro.
My sister packed up and headed to India to do service which had always been my dream.
And then I think everyone took off for Africa again.
It was about this time that I was confined to a small apartment with these two toddlers only fourteen months apart hanging on my legs and making messes.
Traveling to a foreign country with my family was about as far from my world as going to the moon.
I was in the midst of trying to get my babies to actually sleep at night without waking each other up let alone help fight world hunger.
That’s when this became Elle’s first bedroom:
As I slid that pack-n-play in and out of Elle’s “closet” to do laundry and cleaned up small disasters everywhere I went, I daydreamed about service expeditions and hiking far-away hilltops, my mind engrossed in a new culture. It was around then that my sweet mother started reminding me of something she’d remind me of forever after: “life is long.”
And you know what? She was right.
I hunkered down and did what I knew deep-down was much more grand (although not nearly as glamorous) as travel.
I was a Mother. And that was a new culture all on it’s own.
Dave and I stuck to our 10-20-70 deal. We always scrimped by so I could siphon out some spending money here and there to build up a travel fund. When I did photography every cent of the money I made went directly toward that.
You see, everyone has their “thing.” Not everyone goes hog-wild over traveling. I know you can live never leaving “home” and have a wonderful life.
But Dave understood (and still does) that traveling is my “thing”…my “love language” if you want to call it that. He knows that I’d take a donation to the “travel fund” over pretty much anything else.
I don’t want to make it sound like we never traveled in those early years. My family still took us under their wing and we got to do some fun things. We got to go home and see family at Christmas and we lived in D.C. so there was really no lack of culture there.
Plus we were driving distance from New York and Boston so we made trips there when we could.
Money is not as tight as it used to be for us.
But I remember worrying so much about even paying a babysitter so Dave and I could go out on a date, let alone going on a trip.
What my mom told me all those years ago was right:
Life Is Long.
I have never once regretted “being there” for those kids of mine.
So if you are reading this rocking a baby and a toddler is close-by spilling juice on the floor, never fear.
Life just keeps changing and morphing and meandering.
If you REALLY want to travel, there are ways you can make it happen! (listen to the podcast for tips on that!)
This mom who asked this question above was right:
You can create wonderful family memories without any travel at all.
You just have to get creative. I’m all about family traditions, even if it’s just taking walks every Sunday together or FaceTiming with family every Thursday or having “late nights” every once in a while with just one child at a time.
(See “7 Motherhood Ideas I love” for more ideas on soaking up those smaller kids while you can!)
The little things become the big things when kids get older.
Plus, it wouldn’t hurt to plaster a big map on your wall and make a plan about future travel so that you can be ready when the day comes. Ha!
Since we couldn’t travel to all those exotic countries I pined away to visit, at least we could talk about them over dinner:)
Sending love and encouragement to all you travel-hungry moms out there!
And extra love to everyone “in the trenches.”
They are beautiful, especially when you are looking back at them from my vantage point!