The goal for this travel blog is to share practical baby travel tips to help parents prepare for their next big adventure. Because of this, we feel it’s also important to get different perspectives by learning from other traveling families.
A few weeks ago we interviewed Marina of TravelExperta.com. Marina is an expat for 10+ years in Central America raising 2 boys in a multicultural, trilingual household who travel all over the world. Today we would like to introduce Micki and Charles Kosman from The Barefoot Nomad.
Before we get started, please introduce yourself. How many children do you have and when did you start traveling with them.
We’re Micki and Charles Kosman from The Barefoot Nomad and we have two kids. Our son Cole is eight and our daughter Jordan is just about to turn five.
Our first trip with Cole was to Cuba when he was a little over a year old. Jordan’s first trip was to Mexico when she was just under a year old. Cole’s traveled to 13 countries, and Jordan’s visitied 10. I always joke that they were born with passports in their hands.
What is the most kid friendly travel destination you’ve visited? Why?
We’ve been to a lot of countries that were very kid friendly. I’d say that the Philippines was where we noticed it most. We traveled around the Philippines for almost three months when Cole was two. At the time he had a head of short curly blond hair and bright blue eyes. It was like traveling with a rock star.
Everywhere we went, in the grocery store, on buses, even in line for the washroom, people would stop and smile at him, and stroke his blond hair. They definitely love their children and I think people opened up to us a lot more when they saw we had our own little guy tagging along on our adventures.
What is the one item you always bring when traveling with your baby/kids?
We never leave home without a pack of wet wipes. When our kids were small, we used them for diaper clean up, but they’re great for cleaning up all sorts of messes and keeping their little dirty hands clean after a messy snack.
Do you have any travel tips for flying with a baby/kids?
A sippy cup (or cup with a built in straw for older kids) saves a lot of spills. We just ask the flight attendants to put the juice or water directly in the cup.
We also always carry something to help the kids ears equalize when landing. Now that they’re older, gum and lollipops work well, but when they were babies, nursing or sucking from a bottle worked wonders.
When we’re on a plane, we always play with the kids as much as possible at the beginning of the flight. We also stock up on stickers, coloring books and small disposable crafts before taking a long trip. We do our best to keep them occupied and away from electronics for as long as possible.
Once the kids are into the electronics like the iPad, iPhone or 3DS, it’s hard to get them interested in anything else. We save them for when things are really going south, like in that inevitable long line at customs, or when the kids just won’t sit still or sleep towards the end of a long journey.
What has been the biggest “lesson learned” during your travels with kids?
Before we had kids, we were fairly hard core backpackers; staying in hostels, taking 24 hour long bus rides and usually forgoing air conditioning. On our first trip with Cole, we learned pretty quickly that we needed to take his needs into consideration a lot more. Our first stay with him was in a hot room with a half broken fan. The poor little guy got a bad case of heat rash so we had to upgrade to a cooler room with air conditioning.
We decided right there that we weren’t going to continue roughing it like we used to. On the plus side, we stay in much nicer accommodations now that we have kids with privacy and facilities to make everyone comfortable. I’m not going to lie, the “kid upgrade” is a pretty nice bonus to traveling with little ones.
Another equally important lesson we learned about traveling with kids is not to overdo anything. Before kids we used to push ourselves past our brink at times and then chilled for a few days to recuperate. With kids, there is no real downtime and regardless of how late you stayed up or how tired you are, the kids will still get up at 7 am and want breakfast. That’s just the reality of having young kids. The longer and harder you try to live like you used to before having them, the longer and more painful the process will be. Just accept that things won’t be the same for a while and enjoy the chance to explore the world from a different perspective.
What advice would you give to parents that are about to go on their first trip with their baby?
I know a lot of parents that are terrified to travel with their kids because of messed up nap schedules and having to take their kids out of their comfort zone. I completely understand that, but it’s also important to consider that traveling is also going to help teach you (and your kids) some great skills in terms of being flexible and adaptable to your environment.
Parenting is tough work a lot of the time, there’s no way around it. Just realize that no matter where you are your job as a parent won’t change. The nice part of travel is that you’ll also have the joy of traveling at the same time. Depending on how you’re traveling, it might even be less work if you’re staying in a hotel or eating at restaurants. Imagine not having to clean up or make another supper. Just be sure to build in a lot of down time to let everyone adjust to their new environment.
We’ve also noticed that when a parent is stressed out, their kids get stressed as well. Relax, take your time and if you don’t have the energy or ambition to see and do everything on your agenda that it’s okay to take a breather, skip a few of the sites and just enjoy the simpler things like a park or a pool. Everyone will enjoy their trip that much more.
Micki and Charles have traveled the world together since 2003. From hot air ballooning through Turkey to snorkeling with sea turtles in Mexico to riding camels in Morocco, they prove that you can have great adventures with kids. To follow Micki and Charles’ family travels, check out their travel blog at The Barefoot Nomad, follow them on Facebook and Pinterest or get their updates by email.
Do you travel with your children? Care to share your travel tips? Contact us today, we’d love to share your story!