My husband–The Geek–and I love to travel. In our life BC (before children), we took all sorts of exotic vacations, some of which involved castles and pubs, others of which involved sand and long lazy afternoons napping in the hotel. Needless to say, vacations are different now. (No, we haven’t done the D-word yet. That’s not what I mean.) Long flights are no longer an excuse to pack three books in my carry-on. Naps are a distant memory. Anything involving sand also involves buckets and seashells. The only castles are sand castles.
Still, we travel. It’s not as easy as it once was in our BC life. But it’s kinda more fun. There are benefits to traveling with kids and I feel lucky that we’ve
had so many opportunities to do it. First off, people are really nice when you’re traveling with kids. I know, it seems counterintuitive, since everyone hates a crying baby on a plane, but it’s true. When you have kids with you, people are just nicer. They’re nicer while in route to your destination, but also as you’re traveling about the city you’re in. Kids help you make friends where ever you go. Or maybe that’s just my kids, ’cause they’ve never met a stranger.
We just got back from a trip to Boston, where The Geek had to go for business. On our first day, walking around Boston Commons, my kids oohed and aahed so much over the zamboni machine at Frog Pond, that the driver let them climb up onto the seat and have their picture taken. Then he showed them how it worked, which was cool, because I’ve always wondered myself. Riding the T around town, my son struck up a conversation with a businesswoman and her daughter. My daughter befriended a couple of college girls. And my son talked the ear off of a very disreputable looking, skate-punk kid. This was the kind of guy I probably would have edged away from if I’d been alone, but my son started with “Wow, I like your skateboard.” and by the time we got off four stops later, the skaterboy was showing off his environmently-friendly soy wheels. Those are the kinds of experiences that you can only have when you travel with children. I think it’s because kids have a natural ability to disarm people. Even people who would normally treat strangers with distant politeness seem to open up around kids. Kids are natural ambassadors.
Plus, I just love sightseeing with kids. There’s nothing quite like the joy and excitement with which they experience everything. Would I have gone to the Harvard Museum of Natural History if I’d been traveling with just the Geek? Maybe. Would I have felt the same heady excitement at the sight of the Smilodon fossils? Probably not. Would I have stood in the Great Mammal Hall staring up in wonderment at the three whale skeletons hanging from the rafters? Maybe, but not with the same glee.
You see, kids disarm people and they disarm us, their parents, most of all. Yes, sometimes traveling with them is difficult. You never quite get to relax. You’re constantly counting heads and shushing squeals. But I love getting to see the world through a child’s eye. I love the excitement and thrill they get from seeing something new. For me, that makes all of the stress of traveling with kids worth it.
What about you? Do you travel with your kids? If you do, what do you love about it?
I’m Emily McKay, AKA The Hippie Chick Mama. Why Hippie Chick? Well, ’cause I’m one of the those organic-veggie-eating, raw-milk-drinking, yoga-practicing … okay, you get the idea. I’ve got two kiddos. The McDaughter is in the first grade and the McSon just turned four. My husband, The Geek, travels a lot and works with robots and Legos. No, seriously, it’s a real job. I love to cook and bake. When I’m not cleaning up after kids or doing laundry, I write for Harlequin Desire, YA Romcoms under the name of Ivy Adams, and paranormal YA for Berkley.