Monday, May 23, 2016

Travel with Toddlers vs. Teenagers

My brood in Chile last December
I've traveled internationally with both toddlers and teens.  And for a few years when my kids were in elementary school we hardly traveled at all, which, looking back, I completely regret.  Because even though I'll be the first to admit that it's a huge pain in the ass to travel with kids, it's also totally worth the expense, the endless hassles and inevitable exhaustion.  For one very important reason, the memories.  Everything seems more romantic in a photo.  Because pictures don't whine or complain.  Which kids of every age do. 

When my kids were toddlers I deluded myself into thinking traveling would get easier when they got older and I didn't have to carry baby wipes and snacks around listening to them complain about how their feet were sore from walking.  Except that never happens.  Sure, maybe you don't have to wipe their butts with the baby wipes anymore, but you're still carrying a great big bag of essentially the same stuff, but bigger because your kids are the bigger their insatiable appetite.  Which increases the need for more wet wipes.  And teens have extremely large vocabularies allowing them to articulate their displeasure over whatever you're doing in excruciating detail.

Sure, when they're toddlers you might have to restrict your itinerary to schedule downtime for that ornery kid who turns into a demon if he doesn't have a nap in Athens.  Prague.  Switzerland.  Austria.  France. Florida.  Because Damien (please note this is an alias to protect his identity) would not nap in the car, on a plane or in a stroller like a normal toddler, requiring us to return to the hotel room mid afternoon.  Which would (hopefully) result in a peaceful hour of silence in the hotel room.  The only way to get a peaceful hour of travel with a teenager is with wifi.  And do you know how hard it is to keep connectivity and charged electronics while traveling abroad?  When four kids are fighting over one outlet?  Harder than you think!

When they're toddlers they're just happy to go anywhere.  Because they don't know any better.  My kids loved walking to the neighborhood dump to watch the trucks when we lived in Germany.  That would entertain all of them for a couple of hours.  Now that they're teens and half are boys and half are girls, they have vastly different interests, there's nothing (and I mean nothing) that they can all agree on.  Well, except when they think the hotel is a dump.  So there's that.

There's almost nothing toddlers love more than hamming it up for the camera.  You can take a picture of them doing almost anything.  Or nothing.  Snuggled up with you even.  And they smile.  Teens are allergic to cameras.  And their parents.  They'll do anything to avoid getting their picture taken. Especially with their parents.  So, the hundreds of vacation pictures you have of your precious little dwindles to one picture you had to bribe your kid to take and then you still may not get photo approval to post it to social media or on your blog.

But, by far the most difficult part of travel with teens in going anywhere at all.  Because they have school, sports and jobs.  JOBS, I said.  So, this summer we won't be going to the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore or Glacier.  Again.  In fact, we've never been to any of those places. Why did we take a break for traveling for those few years when they were in elementary school?   They were so easy to pull out of school at that age for the perfect fall or spring cheap travel, good weather, beat the crowds off season travel deals.  It was probably the best time to travel with kids and we missed it.

Take a bit of travel advice from me:
Travel now.
There is no better time.
Pack wet wipes.


Salty Bug said...

F*cking hilarious! SOOO spot on and never ever leave home without the wet wipes...brilliant.

Marie Loerzel said...

@saltybug Thank you so much!

Lainie Liberti said...

I hear you, but traveling with teens is so rich and rewarding too! In fact it's my favorite stage so far as I've been traveling non-stop for 7 years with my son! The key is home education and / or worldschooling, a rich educational model without the scheduling conflicts you describe.

Chelsa Cass said...


Marie Loerzel said...

@Laine I'm glad you've found a way to make it work!
@chelsa Thanks!

Mackenzie Glanville said...

We took the kids on a 2 week trip around Tasmania in January, they were 6, 8 and 11 and they were fab! I think it is probably the best ages, no naps, and they still want it be around their parents and their siblings! But yes wet wipes were necessary especially when an alpaca spits on your 11 year old!

Parul said...

Ha ha! that was fun to read and I guess mothers would have nodded all along.

Parul from Happiness & Food

Sine said...

OMG Marie, You've once again nailed it! Couldn't have said it better. We are leaving for Jamaica in just a few hours and already had the "what does it take for us to be allowed to take one family picture" discussion. And my son won't go anywhere without wet wipes. Or access to a 45-min shower. Twice a day.


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