Before my daughter, Taylor, joined our life, I traveled a lot – with my husband, with my family and friends, and alone. Each travel companion had their own pros and cons, much like traveling with kids. Toting the kids along to an all-inclusive adjusts the experience. I no longer suffer from adult beverage-induced amnesia. Aside, from the obvious lack of partying, what else has changed?
Then: Traveling light. I used to be able to pack for a whole week in a carry-on – a few pairs of shorts, t-shirts, and a bikini for each day and I was good to go. Everything else I could either buy there or live without.
Now: It looks like we’re moving abroad. We typically check a minimum of one bag each, plus I have a carry-on, diaper/child bag, and a purse; Taylor has a backpack to carry on she refuses to carry; and my husband also loads my bags with his tablet and personal items. To top it off, we are gate checking the stroller and carrying on the car seat. By this point, I can easily be confused with the “crazy bag lady.” We can’t risk just buying whatever we need when we get there, because everything Taylor needs is item or brand specific. And you have to pack two of everything preparing for the worst-case scenario.
Then: Late night dinner. In the past, we never scheduled our meals and ate whenever we felt like it. It often resulted in dining at fancy restaurants around 8:00 PM. On a cruise, we’ve always been fine with the late seating.
Now: We’re fighting for the early seating on a cruise – who knew it would be such a hot commodity? We now eat dinner before 5:00 PM, and we’re back in our room by 7:00 PM to wind down for bed at 8:00 PM. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to have a balcony to hang out on while the little one sleeps.
Then: It wasn’t unusual to go see three or four museums in one day. In one day, My best friend and I took in the MoMa and three museums along Museum Mile in New York City. To top it off, we finished the night with a trip to The Top of the Rock.
Now: We are lucky with we get to visit one museum without fighting with the three-nager. She is obviously too cool to appreciate Claude Monet these days. Honestly, she’s usually thrilled to see paintings and dinosaurs, but has no respect for the red ropes which end a very embarrassing game of “chase me through the museum.”
Then: Destination selection. We could travel where ever we wanted and how we wanted. There was nothing stopping us from backpacking through Thailand or taking in a beer tasting tour in Germany.
Now: Because of all the reasons above, we often limit ourselves to simpler destinations that don’t require a lot of walking or long-term attention. Often all-inclusive resorts and cruises have been easier.
However, regardless of the added efforts, seeing the world through a child’s eyes has to be my favourite travel experience. Taylor is three and has traveled a fair amount. She loves seeing new escarpments and experiencing different things. She’s a little young to understand culture, but her eyes light up with every lesson. She is inquisitive and learning that the world is beautiful and full of life.
Taylor is now my favourite travel companion.