Traveling the world with your kids

How to do it without going crazy.

Coming out of the lockdowns that have plagued our world for the past 2 years, many people are itching to travel, to do something completely different. If you’re like me, you’re eyeing those dream trips that once seemed like a reach — but now seem like something possible that could reset the crazy feelings of the last two years. 

Oh, but, wait. You have kids. Hmm. 

To be honest, when we had children I thought our days of jetting around the world were over. Add in some postpartum anxiety and the idea of traveling just a state away just seemed impossible. It was only because we moved overseas for my husband’s work that we were forced into bringing our children to places I never would have dreamed: Eating waffles and fries in Bruges. Climbing the Eiffel Tower. Taking a cooking class in an Italian woman’s home. Watching a leopard in a tree on safari. 

Every single one of these experiences was challenging but completely worth it. And they all came about because soon after arriving at our brand new home in Germany, we were forced to evacuate our home as the city disarmed a World War II bomb. We had 48 hours to plan a weekend away with two kids under two and a dog. Talk about stressful! But you know what? It taught me that it’s completely possible to travel with your kids. That weekend led to another weekend, and then another. And we worked our way up to longer trips, until the kids were pros and the diaper bag became a thing of the past. 


Along the way I’ve learned so many tips and tricks that helped the trips work smoothly. So, if you even *think* you might want to travel with your kids, read on to get some motivation to plan a whole new kind of vacation.



Each day of your vacation, whether it’s to a state park or to Paris, needs to have something for for the grownups and something for the kids. This will look different depending on your kids’ ages, but the formula should always be the same - something for each age grouping in the family, every day. For example, if my husband and I really want to do a wine tasting or visit a museum - we do. But soon afterwards, we’ll be going to a playground or finding a splash pad for the kids. Does your dream day involve looking at ancient frescos in quiet cathedrals where the kids will need to be quiet and orderly? Don’t shy away from it - teach them about being respectful and appreciating history. But then afterwards, grab some ice cream or tour a chocolate factory where they can ask questions and try samples. Teenagers really want to find some famous street to record a TikTok video? Go find the location as a family, and then make a plan to meetup at the farmers market down the street so the little kids can get a snack. Figure out a rhythm that works for your family so that everyone gets a fun experience out of EVERY DAY of your trip. When the kids were babies, we even had moments where I was able to go to a museum solo, while my husband took the kids to a park. The next day we switched, and my husband went to a Scotch tasting while I stayed with the kids at our AirBnB for nap time. It meant everyone had their needs met without exhausting each other or missing out on a grownups-only activity.



Ok, real talk. If your idea of hiking is walking to the bodega on the corner, then taking your kids to Iceland might need a little more preparation. In that case, maybe try a weekend at a state park and building up your hiking experience before committing to a week away. If your family is more comfortable in nature than in big cities, you might want to travel through southern Germany rather than staying exclusively in big cities like Berlin and Munich. Likewise, if you’re a city dwelling family whose kids hate the idea of camping, but you really want to do a safari, then you might choose to stay in a safari lodge with kid’s activities rather than a tented camp. Choose your travel destination based on what your family enjoys doing rather than what’s trending or the pretty photos you saw on Instagram. 

And of course budget comes into play. Perhaps your family loves history, but Rome isn’t in the budget right now - try visiting Colonial Williamsburg and the Jamestown settlement. Saving up for that dream safari in Africa, but really want the wildlife scouting experience now? Check out Yellowstone or a nearby state park where you can search for American wildlife. The US is full of stunning travel locations, and you don’t have to worry about passports, currency exchanges, or language barriers! 



Ok, so now you’ve picked your location, you know you need to split up your day, and you are ready to start booking your trip. Before you make any non-refundable commitments *ahem, airline tickets,* do some research. Be clear on your budget. Remember to budget for food and activities! How will you get around? Do you need a rental car? Are you packing your own lightweight carseats or hoping to rent them? I love a good excel spreadsheet for this part, and making some free-cancellation bookings through an website like can help you clarify your time and realistic lodging prices. 

Then look at everything you think you’ll want to do in the area. Are there enough activities to fill your time? This is something you’ll have to answer for your own family - one family might be content to stay in Tuscany for a week, another might want just a day or two before moving on to the Cinque Terre. The last thing you want is to book airline tickets for a 10 day trip and realize you only have 5 days worth of activity - or budget!


No one wants to think about things going south on a vacation, but they can and do. So before you’re done with your research, you should also make a list of emergency information. How will your relatives/coworkers/petsitter reach you if something happens at home? Do you know what to do if you lose your passport? Is there an urgent care or hospital in the town you’ll be staying? I always recommend traveling with a small emergency kit - I carry everything from bandaids and pesto bismol to a mirror (which you can use to start a campfire) and a battery backup for my phone. Keeping both a digital and paper copy of your passports and itinerary is a great habit to get into, and these days having a rapid covid test tucked away is probably a good idea too!


During the research phase, I like to break down our list of activities into two categories: Must Do, Nice to Do/Bonus. This means I’m compiling a list of more activities than realistically fit into our time - and I know we likely won’t do them all. Why? Because things happen. Sometimes a location is unexpectedly closed or maybe some location just wasn’t a great as you thought and you suddenly have extra time in your day - that’s where the bonus activities can really come in handy. 



Unless a museum or location is only open on certain days, I try not to be too rigid about what activities we do each day. We might have a list of 7 potential things to do in a 5 day stretch, so that if it rains we can choose one of the indoor options. Or maybe Tuesday’s hike was really tiring, so Wednesday we end up just lounging by the pool and playing board games. Being flexible and honoring each person’s needs is part of the process - don’t try to cram everything in just because you’re afraid of “missing out.”

All that being said, sometimes things just don’t go your way, so flexibility - and extra clothing - become the key. We often think about extra clothing for kids, but what will you do if the kid barfs on you in the plane halfway across the Atlantic? Or if it rains non-stop during your trip? During our trips to Belgium it rained 2 out of the 3 days we were there. There are only many chocolate shops and old churches you can go to, so we donned our rain gear and headed out to see the sights in the rain - and ended up having the best time. Watching a 3 year old splash in puddles beside ancient buildings really does blow your mind.




Wherever you go, spending time together as a family is key, and someday you’ll want to remember all those little details that slip away with time. Find a way to document your trip, whether it’s recording photos and video, keeping a journal, or saving your ticket stubs to make a scrapbook. Remember to document the little things, as well as the big ones. Take the photo of the sunrise vista over the African plains - but also take the picture of your kids falling asleep in the backseat of the safari car. Document your child encountering a wild elephant for the first time - the wonder and excitement in their face.


And if you want to learn to take beautiful photos of your kids, keep an eye on this space as I share some tips and tricks for preserving your family vacation memories in future blog posts!

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