Kids. Airport gate lounges. Long-haul flights. Foreign languages. Public transport. Different foods. What could go wrong? Every parent has a story or two about travel with their kids. Whether this is overseas travel or down to the local shops. People asked why we were taking the kids away with us. Apart from the obvious cost of taking children along for the ride, some folks seemed genuinely perplexed as to why we didn’t leave the kids at home with a babysitter to travel footloose and fancy free. I decided to dig a little bit and see what I could find about other people’s motivations for including the rug-rats on an overseas expedition. There are, in fact, whole websites devoted to this very topic. Katie Dillon, a San Diego travel and lifestyle guru wrote about the “Ten Best Reasons to Take the Kids Overseas”. I found this list of reasons on www.10best.com. Several of Katie’s points resonated strongly with me. She made a lot of sense. She got it. She gets it. Apart from the obvious plus factors of taking the kids to a foreign country to experience some of their heritage and cultural background; there were the learning impacts this might hopefully have at school. They missed two weeks of school but the life lessons and experiences surely made up for a few weeks of missed class time, right? The details may fade over time but they will remember that they stood in the Sistine Chapel and went up the Eiffel Tower when these places start coming up in their studies. Also, they will have images such as this one, to remind them what an awesome experience they had and how lucky they were to have parents who took them on a trip like this!
A once in a lifetime shot. Photo/copyright Esther Colavecchio.
Probably the last of Katie’s points was the one that I agreed with the most enthusiastically, which was that “overseas family travel allows parents to get what they want”. Some parents don’t want to wait a decade or longer until the kids are out on their own and self-sufficient before they can enjoy a (European) holiday. Life is short. Take the chances when you can. No one seemed better qualified to embody this sentiment than John who had been through a tough few years of losing beloved family members one after the other. It felt like time for something good to happen. Bringing the kids was a way for us to scratch our own itch for travel to faraway places. Think of the crazy, fun adventures of the Griswold family in “National Lampoon – European Adventure”. Ok, maybe the Griswold family is a bit far-fetched for our tempestuous travelling tribe. Perhaps our trip could be better described as an “Amazing Race” sort of experience, if you have ever seen it on TV. Or maybe even the airport scene from “Home Alone” rings a bell. The start of that movie paints a better picture of our travelling bunch. There are a swag of parents and their kids hurtling through the airport on their way to catch a flight that they were running late for. We didn’t miss any flights during our trip by the way, but this is still a visual image that conjures up the chaos quite nicely. There were thirteen in our travel party as we set off from Gladstone, Qld. The six parents were outnumbered by the seven kids who ranged in age from four years old up to fifteen years old.
About this photo – one child had his mouth open mid-sentence (or was it a yawn, “oh man not ANOTHER statue??”) and three of the kids aren’t looking at the camera at all. Overall, though, this could be classed as a successful shot that included all seven of them. We had booked a twelve day Trafalgar tour of Italy and needed permission for Master Four to come along on tour, since there was an age restriction of five years old. As it turned out, there was another four-year-old (girl) in our tour group who was travelling with her Mum and Dad. Any worries we may have had about taking the kids on this sort of bus tour were overcome as they all behaved brilliantly during the trip. Our Trafalgar ‘Best of Italy’ travel companions praised the kids for behaving superbly. (Well at least that is what they said to our faces, lol). They were all entertained, amused and enlightened by the whole experience. And the kids were even more enthralled! Some of the stuff that our kids got to see and do was priceless. If you are thinking of embarking on a journey overseas and plan to take the kids with you, my humble advice is to do it. By the way and let’s be honest, there are certain things that it would be un-cool to do WITHOUT having kids along for the ride.
Disneyland Paris, photos by Esther (1) and John (2) Colavecchio.
So, in answer to the question of ‘Why Travel with Kids’, my answer in the end is quite simple. Why not? Precious moments. Pizza making in Italy. Feeding the white horse in England. Disneyland. Lego land. Climbing the walls (literally) in Windsor. Priceless stuff. The stuff that memories are made of.
Written by Esther Colavecchio