Have Kids; Will Travel
By: Shauna Armitage
Flying from Maine to Texas makes for a long day. You have to maneuver through unfamiliar airports, switch flights and probably pick up a car upon arrival. None of this is made easier with a toddler in tow. Long layovers and cancelled flights only add to the drama. Hotel rooms with only one bed and nice restaurants that don’t serve chicken fingers make for long days and even longer nights. Traveling with kids is not an easy task, but it is always worth it.
Travel has always been a passion of mine, and that didn’t change when I started my family. I heard lots of my childhood friends state that they were waiting to have kids because they wanted time to travel before settling down, but I could never understand why it was impossible to do both. Maybe this was because I had my firstborn when I was at the ripe young age of 22, so I never really experienced that adult-only travel that all of my contemporaries craved. Maybe it was because I actually enjoyed traveling with my son. Maybe I like a good challenge.
Our first flight as a family was way too easy. I packed snacks, extra bottles and toys for my then one-year-old son preparing for any situation that might present itself—but nothing terrible happened. He liked to wobble around the gate while we waited to board, and he stood quietly between my husband and me during the entire flight waiting for one of us to hand him a mini pretzel. No screaming baby kicking the seats, no scared child crying during takeoff, no problems at all.
As he got older, airport travel got more complicated and the first time that we flew just the two of us, everything that could possibly go wrong did. After six hours of sitting in the airport, our flight got cancelled and we had to find a local hotel to stay at. I grabbed all of the bags, my three-year-old and prepared to tackle another day of airports in the morning. The next day my tired little boy who had had enough of traveling pitched a fit in the incredibly crowded terminal at Newark Airport. The entire experience was a nightmare.
At this point you are probably asking yourself HOW I could possibly enjoy traveling with a young kid. The answer is simple: every time we travel together, it is a new experience for him. Every hiking trail is an epic adventure. Every train ride is a treat for the senses. Every flower in the field is a new friend, and every little wave beckons him to splash, and squeal and run. Each time we travel—even when it’s something that I’ve done a zillion times before—I get to experience it as if it were the first time through my son’s eyes.
The fresh perspective brings joy. Traveling with a child makes me feel like a child—pure of heart, pure of soul and pure of spirit. Yes, there are many struggles along the way, but when we go together, we grow together, and I’m a better mother and a better person for experiencing the world while holding a child’s hand.