A while ago I wrote about “Travel with kids – challenge or opportunity” and since this is an area that’s dear to my heart, here’s some more.
Why am I so eager to convince you to take your kids on that dream trip of yours? Because it’s so worth it! For the kids and for you. I’m of course not talking about that short get away weekend by yourself or with your spouse. I’m talking about going traveling and traveling for a long time. When you travel with kids and go out into the world, there are a few things which could be good to have in mind though:
• Take your time and travel slowly. Don’t be in a hurry. Be very generous with the time you reserve for both your travels as well as your stays. Also, trying to cram in as much as possible to see and do may not be the best starting position for a relaxed and fun family journey.
• Adjust to the kid’s age. It is a totally different thing, traveling with an older teenager or with a newborn (and with one child or four ).The younger the kids (and the more there are of them), the slower the pace I would say. Really young children can keep themselves busy and be fascinated by small everyday things and you can take the opportunity yourself to learn from them and experience the world from this perspective. The older they get the more you’ll of course be able to communicate about what you want to do and where you’ll want to go. Here you have plenty of opportunity to practice communication and negotiation, or consensus, skills. And I mean that! See it as a way to strengthen both your kids and your own abilities to listen and to be considerate as well as to express your desires.
• Be in the present. This is also something you can learn more about from your kids, and the younger they are, the better they can teach you. Traveling and being away from all the musts and should is the perfect time to practice mindfulness and just taking in what is. This is also the best way to keep kids calm and relaxed (not to mention yourself). And don’t worry, your trip won’t be uneventful and boring, rather the opposite (and you can be sure that all kinds of unexpected, unimaginable things will show up). You’ll learn how fascinating even the smallest thing can be and you’ll experience how it is to feel really alive.
• Remember that “the journey is the goal”. Well, this is very connected to the ability to be in the present. When you’re in the present, you realize that everything that happens along the trip is part of your journey , not just the end destination some 2 or 4 or 7 months ahead. And everything that happens along way, all of it, that’s what the journey is about.
These are things we have been taught ourselves by our kids when we have been traveling with them and the more we have been able to follow this, the more relaxed and fun our trips have been.
I’m sure you recognize by now, if you have been following us for a while, our story from our first long term trip. We left Sweden in a very stressed state, having got rid of house, company, school as well as a bunch of limiting beliefs. Our trip out into the world, where we should be “free” and have the time of our life, continued in this stressed state. And everything went wrong. The campervan broke down, we got sick, got lost (on many levels), the kids were bored and were fighting….
Not until we could let go of the expectations of everything we were going to do and see and be as well as slowing down the pace considerably, things changed. And this took time. Several months actually. From there on, we were able to take the days as they came, we could really listen to each other (and hear) and we got better at seeing the big things in the small. Whatever we did, it always worked out in the best way because, whatever happened, it just was the best way. Yes, we did have the trip of our lifetime!
So to travel with kids can really be an opportunity to learn to live your life in the best of ways and of course, this approach does not have to stop when your trip is over. I think it’s a real advantage to be able to live in a more mindful way in our times, either you are travelling the world or being at home dealing with your everyday businesses.