6 things travelling with kids taught me

Recently we had an amazing opportunity to take some time out of normal life and go travelling as a family. Here are a few lessons I’ve learnt along the way!…

1. Packing cubes make life easier

This has been a recent and revolutionary discovery! We have three sets of different coloured packing cubes – think small, zippable canvas..well..cubes! The result? We can share luggage without getting stuff mixed up, see exactly what we have and more importantly when you are in the middle of a Ugandan water shortage, you know what’s clean! They’ve made the constant packing and unpacking loads quicker and more organised, so yep, I’m a big advocate!


2. Eat the camel and seize the day

Our travels were kickstarted by my husband’s nine year long job coming to an end during my maternity leave. Not exactly ideal timing but it got us thinking. We could plow straight into ‘what next?’, begin worrying about the future and start applying for jobs or, we could take a moment to pause. Maybe even seize the opportunity to do something spontaneous with no agenda other than to experience life somewhere else and connect with dear friends. We booked the flights and I’m so glad we did. Yes flying long haul with a four year old and 9 month old has it’s challenges (?!) and we have experienced next level tantrums (on board a small boat in the middle of the Nile of all places!) but those won’t be the things that fill my memories and photo books. I’ve learnt to seize more days, to jump into more moments and when someone offers you camel for dinner, say yes!


3. Find adventure in the everyday

We’ve camped in the middle of the Ugandan bush, experienced a wedding in Oman, run through sand dunes in UAE, we have lived adventure everyday. However this afternoon our daughter spent a good hour making a den from plastic chairs after making a whole crab from bits of several dead crabs, that was today’s adventure. Kid’s have the brilliant ability to be amazed by the ordinary, to sail the pirate infested seas or become a magic-potion-maker without leaving the garden. I don’t want adventure to become something extraordinary, an event for holidays or special occasions. Our trip has taught me to weave it into the small everyday moments and moments that in fact, make up our lives.

4. Kids can cope with weird

I wondered how our eldest child would respond to the ‘different’ we experienced. Particularly the different ethnicities, languages, food and dress in the Middle East and Africa. She was totally unfazed, embracing all aspects of the cultures we visited much better than I expected. She ate (and loved) camel and goat, let her arm be painted in Henna (something I’m almost certain she wouldn’t have done at home) and didn’t once comment on how anyone else looked or spoke. My reflection is that kids cope with ‘weird’ far better than adults and the sooner we expose them to ‘weird’ the better. I want my children to grow into the kind of people who embrace different, who welcome strangers and are kind to the poor. It starts now, it’s on me to introduce them to ‘weird’, to challenge them with ‘different’ and to show them the wonderful variety and colour of our world.


5. It’s only one day

Lots of people have told me they thought we were ‘brave’ or that they couldn’t imagine taking small kids across the world. I think mostly it’s the actual travel that puts people off, having to contain children on a plane, negotiating airports and managing luggage whilst holding small hands. A really wise friend who’s done several long haul flights with kids gave me a great piece of advice she said ‘at the end of the day, no matter what happens, it’s only one day of your life’. That’s the attitude we took, because it was only a day of our life, sure not a day I’d like to repeat a lot(?!) but it was only a day. It’s changed our perspective on journeying with kids and neither of us were daunted by our recent drive and overnight ferry to France (this time last year it would have terrified us!). I wonder how many other things in life I would dive into more willingly if I had the perspective of ‘it’s only one day’?

6. You can never have enough snacks

This speaks for itself and is a truism no matter where you are in the world and no matter how self controlled your children are. Snacks = happiness, end of.

Would love to hear from any other fellow travellers about what you’ve learnt on the journey, whether that’s a quick trip to the coast or a 24 flight to Australia. #travellingWells