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  • Writer's pictureAmanda

Spoiler Alert: Travel IS Harder With Little Kids.

I love my kids, I really do. But I also like to torture myself with remembering how easy life was before we had other humans we were responsible for keeping alive. The kicker is that we had NO idea just how much we should have been taking advantage and appreciating the amount of freedom that we had at the time. If I could go back in time with this knowledge, there would be more late night date nights, long weekends away, and quiet dinners out.


Matt and I used to travel a lot. We booked long adventures (Europe for 6 weeks in 2014, Asia for 4 weeks in 2016...) and with each trip, our "Want To Travel To" list kept getting longer. People would say things like "just wait until you have kids..." and we always said "watch us." But of course, that was before we had kids and therefore we didn't have even the slightest understanding of what having kids entailed, especially when it came to travel.


We have gone on a few trips since 2019 when our first daughter was born, but the trips are spaced out because they cost more these days, and they're a hell of a lot harder to pull off. Luckily, we still think the juice is worth the squeeze... but sometimes I can't help but fantasize about what the days would look like if it were just Matt and I going.


There is no better way to fully grasp the difference of traveling with and without kids than to directly compare then vs now. For this example, we are going to focus on 2017: the year Matt and I went to New Zealand, NYC, and New Orleans and compare it with our most recent trip in May 2024 traveling to the Oregon Coast / Seattle with our 1.5 and 4.5 year olds.



The Airport / Plane




2017: We walk into the airport with our carry-on backpacks (+a shared checked luggage for New Zealand), check in, and head to security.


2024: We walk into the airport with me pushing a stroller and Matt pushing a cart piled high with carry-ons, two suitcases packed with all of the what-ifs, a playpen, and backpacks for everyone. The playpen and a suitcase crash to the ground after the cart goes over a bump, and we have to reconfigure the mobile tower. We have to pay to check both luggages as well as the playpen, and are thankful they don't make us put our carry-ons in the measurement box like we've seen them do to others. There is a 95% chance ours wouldn't have fit either.


2017: We take our phones out of our bags, remove our shoes, and walk through security.


2024: We take an embarrassing amount of time at security taking everyone's shoes off, collapsing the stroller, using a million bins to sort our stuff, and taking semi-scared kids through the metal detector. One of our bags gets pulled aside because we forgot to pull out H's water bottle. We are thankful that most security lines allow families to go ahead- we definitely need the extra time.


2017: We find our gate, have a beer at an airport bar while we wait, and get a coffee for the flight.


2024: While we are squatting in a hallway with breakfast balancing on our luggage, and sopping up spilled apple juice from the bottom of the stroller that leaked when no one was looking, and the kids are crying at the same time (my favourite)... someone tells us they "miss these days" as they pass us.


2017: We go to the washroom before boarding the plane.


2024: We are having an argument with the oldest who "doesn't want to pee!!!!!!" and keeping our fingers crossed that the baby doesn't poop right as we are called to board.


2017: We spend our flight reading, watching a movie, taking a nap.


2024: We spend the flight trying to read/ watch a movie/ take a nap, but I am sitting in between both kids who can't work the entertainment system themselves, are constantly dropping things, and are always hungry. I pass the baby over to Matt who scored the other side of the aisle, and the two of them get to nap together for the next hour. I'm jealous, but also happy for a bit of a break.


The Rental Car


2017: Aside from the camper van we traveled NZ in, we usually arrived at the city we were going to explore without a vehicle, opting for subways/taxis/walking to get around.


2024: We have to get a minivan + carseats to fit all of our stuff + our family. It adds $1300 to our budget, but is necessary, especially for traveling the Oregon Coast.

In comparison, a small car would have been $600-$700


Getting To Our Accommodations


2017: We took a taxi/subway to our hotel, went for a bite to eat, and were eager to get a head start the next morning!


2024: Our first stop is Walmart to get diapers/water/snacks. As we drive our minivan towards the coast, the baby keeps throwing up in the backseat. Matt can't pull over fast enough for me to help her, and this happens multiple times in the 2 hour car ride. We are now soo thankful we rented car seats instead of bringing our own. The febreeze only helps so much, and we are reminded of this rough start every time we buckle her in for the next eleven days.


The Accommodations


2017: We booked hotels/airbnbs based on location + reviews. The cheaper, the better!


2024: Our biggest concern now is if the place has a separate bedroom so we can still hang out after the kids go to bed. Hotels are almost always out of the question because a "one bedroom suite" is much more expensive than a regular hotel room, and with Airbnb's we get the added bonus of a kitchen.


The Trip


2017: We would spend our days roaming the streets, learning the history, possibly going on a hike. When we needed a break, we either went to a brewery or a cafe to people watch while we relaxed with a drink in our hand.


2024: We still roam the streets, but now we know where the parks are located, and make a point to include them in our plans. We also know where the ice cream shops are, and which hikes are stroller accessible. At one point, we were back at our Airbnb for some downtime, drinking the coffee that we picked up on the way back, while Trash Truck (great show!) was playing on the tv, and toys were scattered on the floor. I took in the scene, and realized just how much life has changed for us.



 

Has travel become harder? Of course it has! We are now traveling with two kids who are depending on us to be fed, entertained, and kept safe.


As I read this post over, I can't help but wonder if our lives were a little boring traveling without them, or were the trips just as relaxing as they sound? Sure, things still went wrong before, but now we also get to burn some energy at the park, eat extra icecream, and play!


Matt looked at me at one point on this trip and said "We're never going to remember how hard this was. We're going to look back at these photos and only remember how great the trip was" and it's so true.


I already want to jump back on a plane and do it over again. Let's go!!


 

But now I need to know what your experience is like: do you still go on adventures with your kids, or does the thought of it scare you? Do you get to see the adult side of adventures and still sip wine on a patio without a care in the world? OR, are you on the other side of this, and this post makes you nostolgic of the travel you did when your kids were small? Comment below : )

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