Tuesday 23 August 2011

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10 Reasons to Travel WITH Your Children

I'm sure nobody with children needs any help thinking of reasons for a getaway without kids.  The peace, the tranquility, the general lack of the "Are we there yet?" question provide plenty of motivation for solo travel.  There are, however, some pretty decent benefits to bringing your kids with you when you're traveling, even if you do have to suffer through a few more choruses of "He touched me!" from the back seat.

#10 - Justify a bigger room
Is there really any point in paying for a suite when it's just you and your partner on a trip?  I suppose if it's a very special occasion it might be an option, but generally if Lori and I are traveling alone, any room will do, and there's no point spending money that Lori could be shopping with.  If you have kids with you, the extra space becomes important.  Also, as long as your kids are under 18, Hyatt will sell you a second room for them at 50% off.

#9 - Going places you wouldn't normally go
There's some places that you're just not going to fit in if you don't have kids with you.  Last October we went to Phoenix to see a Selena Gomez concert.  I like Selena, but if it had been just Lori and I there (or worse yet, just me) with thousands of preteen girls, it would have seemed kind of creepy.  Since we brought our kids with us, I transformed from creepy, stalkerish-guy to loving Dad doing things for his kids.  That's a good trade-off.

#8 - Doing things you wouldn't normally do

Sometimes going somewhere is acceptable, but doing a certain activity is weird.  For instance, a grown man can go to Disneyland and blend in without too much scrutiny.  The same grown man riding flying elephants around on Dumbo, looks weird.  It's not always age either.  At the Arizona State Fair, I was just too big to crawl in to the inflatable hamster balls and try to run on the water, but my kids weren't.  They did it for me, and I got to share in the fun by spinning their ball until they were too dizzy to stand.

#7 - Meeting people
People who travel with their kids all tend to have the same exasperated, worn out look on their face.  It's like being teammates on a sports team, it gives you guys an instant connection.  You're both playing for team "What the heck were we thinking bringing our kids here" and you know that neither of you have any hope of winning the game, you're just hoping to finish.

#6 - Sympathy / Distraction
Having your children with you can earn you that little bit of extra tolerance when you do something stupid.  When you have to go to the customer relations desk and tell them that you forgot to bring your print-at-home tickets with you (again), always take a child with you, preferably the cutest or most innocent looking one.  You're much more likely to avoid the (well deserved) sarcastic comments.
Conversely, if distraction is your goal, you'll want your most talkative child.  Say, as a purely hypothetical example, you booked a car rental at a rate that you technically might not qualify for.  Take your little serial talker up to the counter with you, and then ask him/her a question about Webkinz, Pokemon, or whatever really gets them excited.  The poor counter person has no hope of getting to speak with you, and might as well just give you your car and move the line along.

#5 - Foods
I don't know who came up with the idea, but kids packs are one of the most brilliant inventions ever.  Food, drink, and a toy all wrapped up together!  Who wouldn't want to order one of those?  You can't though, unless you've got one of your kids with you.  You're probably also going to want children with you if you're heading to a character breakfast.  You can say you're there for the food all you want, but we see your eyes light up when Pluto comes to the table.

#4 - They remember weird things
As parents we quite often have many things on our mind, and sometimes we don't hear everything that's said.  That's my explanation anyways.  My kids say that as a parent I'm getting old, and I don't remember what was said.  Either way, my kids are full of random bits of knowledge that lock themselves into their minds.  As an example, it doesn't matter how many pictures I take of the lot signs, I always have to rely on my son to get us back to wherever we parked the car.  He also knows where every single-rider line in Disneyland is (they aren't labeled), so when we're headed to Indiana Jones, he's in charge.

#3 - Faster service
This works on the same principle as the doctor's office.  When you show up with kids (the more the better) it can be disruptive to the normal flow of things.  Quite often it's just easier for the restaurant/hotel/shuttle bus driver to deal with you first, and then go back to helping everybody else in the correct order.

#2 - You can ask for better seats
It doesn't work so well at places like Disneyland where everybody has kids with them, but in other places you can usually get away with asking for a seat upgrade because "my daughter can't see".  This could be tried without kids, but I have visions of the usher channeling my mother and yelling "Don't slouch! Sit up straight!!"

#1 - They'll make you laugh
My wife can make me laugh, but my kids can leave me doubled over in stitches.  Apparently when you say "on vacation" their logic processing centers shut down.  I've heard some real head scratchers like "Is my seat on the left side or the inside of the plane?", "What time does the six o'clock shuttle leave?", or my favorite "Are we going to park at the drive-in?" 

I love traveling with my children, and these extra benefits just make it even easier to continue.  Besides, as my kids get older, they become much more patient and far less demanding when it comes to travel.  As long as the shuttle is on time, and I keep booking seats on the inside of the plane, we should do fine.


  1. I love your take on this! Mostly you hear people complaining about kids and traveling, but I've always thought it would be a blast to travel with your kids. It's probably worth mentioning that I don't actually have any, though, which might explain some of my enthusiasm. :)

  2. Mine are always available for loan should you feel the need to test drive. :)