Ah…remember the days before children, or B.C. as many of us affectionately call this period of our lives?
I’m in the middle of planning an upcoming family European trip which will be our first time overseas as a family, and one of the things I am noticing is just how different it is to travel overseas with a family as opposed to solo travel.
For example, we may have romantic Hollywood-style visions of walking in the rain in Paris with the love of our lives, but when you are travelling with children, you have to change your expectations or else face the possibility of having a miserable time. Trading in romance for sailing miniature boats in ponds, and long lunches in French bistros for, dare I say it, a meal at McDonald’s (just to keep the kids happy!).
So I present to you a list of advantages of both solo and family travel.
Let’s start with 5 advantages of travelling without children:
1. Flexibility: Without children, you can throw away the idea of an itinerary and just go with the flow. Want to fly to another country tomorrow? Sure, why not!
2. Cheap, cheap: One plane ticket, one room, one meal, one train ticket. Need I go on?
3. I love the nightlife: You can spend all night wandering the streets of whatever city you are in, visiting different bars and nightclubs. Or enjoy a late dinner at your own pace.
4. Be more adventurous: There is something unique and adventurous about solo travelling. I once spent a night walking around the streets of Amsterdam because there was no accommodation available- it was a scary (and slightly stupid) experience, but looking back it was an adventure, and I ended up with a published travel story for the Herald Sun.
5. NWT-free: Naps, water and toilet- There’s nothing like spending a whole day sightseeing without having to rush back to the hotel to allow little Miss 2 to have her afternoon nap. Or being able to drive long distances without worrying about a toilet stop. And isn’t that backpack so much lighter without lugging heavy water bottles…
Ah yes, the beautiful aspects of solo travel are just a fading memory…
But let’s not despair, there are many advantages to travelling as a family. Here are 5:
1. Company: There’s only so much time one can spend alone without the company of others. And what’s better than being with other people? Being with people who you love: your partner and/or children. Yes they can drive you crazy while on holiday, but they also add to the fun and memorable moments that are treasured forever. Like these moments we created while in Paris with the kids.
2. A new perspective: Travelling with children helps us see the world from a different perspective. Click To Tweet
We find more enjoyment in simple pleasures: watching our children play in a park. Sharing an ice cream on a hot day. Watching their faces light up with excitement over things we often overlook. To me, this makes family travel priceless.
Kids enjoy the simplest things, like exploring marine life when snorkelling
3. A different economy: Previously I may have caught a bus to a different city, but with a family of five, it sometimes works out cheaper for us to rent a car instead. Much more comfortable and allows us to travel at our own pace. Or in other cases, comfort may take precedence over money- if the kids are happy, then mum and dad are happy.
4. Extra attention: Sometimes as parents, we worry that our children will misbehave at inappropriate times (as I outlined in my post here) but our children can receive lots of good attention and special treatment while on holiday. Such as extra food during long haul flights, or talking to local people. It’s like walking your dog in a park- people stop to pat your dog and say hi. With kids, people stop to talk to babies, or their kids want to play with your kids. And before you know it, the parents have made new friends.
Taking the kids to the Louvre, Paris.
5. Expand your knowledge: My kids have shown a real interest in history, religion and art. I have planned activities for our trip which focus on these areas of interest, and as a result I have learnt a lot too. Did you know that Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting during his lifetime? The rest were sold or made famous after his death.
Even though I have fond memories of travelling without children, a family trip is far more enriching and memorable. I’ll take the annoying toilet stops and embarrassing yelling if it means I get to spend time in some of the most amazing places in the world with the people I love the most.
And that’s what travelling is all about!
Is there anything you miss about travelling without children? What do you find the most rewarding about travelling as a family? If you are a solo traveller, what do you love most about it? Share your comments!
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