Traveling was a passion of ours before kids, and it is a passion of ours still. But when we had Avery, things changed. In fact, it will be years before my husband and I go on a vacation again.
That does NOT mean we have given up traveling, nor will we ever. But the way we travel has changed. We’ve already taken several trips with our infant during her first year of life, including two international trips. But they’re exactly that: trips. They are in no way vacations. Relaxing vacations do not exist with kids… at least not while they are young.
If you go to a beach, do not expect to lounge on the sand with a fruity drink in your hand and fall asleep with the ocean breeze blowing across your body. As a parent, going to the beach now means a constant battle to keep my kid from eating the sand, or kicking it up on those who are actually on a “vacation.” It means chasing after a toddler who is trying to run off into the waves or take her swim diaper off in the middle of a crowded beach.
That, my friends, is not a vacation. It’s a trip. In fact, I’d even venture to say it’s a work trip. When we aren’t traveling, I’m a stay-at-home. Regardless of what anyone thinks, it’s a full-time job, I just don’t get paid. When we are traveling, I am still a mom… just away from home. I still have all of the duties I have at home: diaper changes, baths, bottles, calming a fussy child… but I also have the added duties that go along with traveling: keeping the aforementioned fussy child quiet on the plane, in restaurants, or in the hotel room when she wakes up at 3 a.m.. Then there are the tasks of applying sunscreen and bug spray every 10 minutes, and researching child-friendly dining options and excursions. I’m working the ENTIRE trip as well as in the days and weeks gearing up for it. (I’m still trying to figure out how I can get away with writing it off on my taxes, since it is in every sense of the title, a WORK TRIP for the stay-at-home mom.)
I am going to be blunt with you, traveling with a child is exhausting. Draining. Taxing. Tiring. Demanding. It’s hard. So hard, in fact, that I’ve questioned our sanity for continuing to take a baby across the world. I have literally cried in our hotel room before when our daughter refused to sleep AT ALL because she was in a new environment. In fact, this picture was taken at 5:00 in the morning, the first full day we were in Costa Rica. My husband (God bless him) took our then 6-month-old for a very early morning stroll along the beach so I could get an hour or so of sleep, because I had been up ALL.NIGHT.LONG. with her.
When traveling with kids, you will have those difficult moments. You will have meltdowns at the dinner table (exhibit B, below), and you will have times that might make you say “We’re never doing this again.”
But then you will moments like this:
That smile of pure glee makes it all worth it. To a child, everything is new. Everything is magic. I want my daughter to see the mountains, to see the seasons change, to swim in the ocean. Those are things she would never experience if we never left our home in Oklahoma. To watch her reaction when she sees something as “magical” as a new plant, or snow, or a crab crawling across the sand… that makes each “work trip” we take better than any vacation we’ve ever been on!