Ever wondered if having a baby means the end to last minute getaways and late night adventures? Most likely yes for a bit! But it certainly won’t signal an end to your traveling days or working your way through your bucket list travel goals.
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As a working mom, having kids has made me prioritize and invest in travel more. Starting with day trips and neighborhood explorations, we have learned our travel dynamics as a family. A little planning and a flexible outlook goes a long way in experiencing new adventures as you travel with your new travel buddy. If traveling is your passion, don’t let work and chores stand in your way of travel dreams of strolling through Paris with your little ones.
I take it as my duty and privilege as a parent to share my love for experiencing new things with my kids. I want to travel to beautiful places, new countries, dream destinations and show them the world. Through many miles traveled, meals eaten and cities explored, here is what has worked in getting our two parent working family out the door on numerous adventures.
1. Establish Travel Goals
One of my biggest fears upon learning of each of my pregnancies was wondering how a baby would change our travel goals. I didn’t want to give up weekend trips to New York City or vacations exploring new places. At the same time, taking a break from my career was not a choice I was willing to make. Finding a way to integrate our kids to our wanderlust life style was a huge step in our parenting journey. With the arrival of our son and daughter, we’ve spent time finding balance between home, work and travel.
Like everything in life, having specific travel goals can help you make them happen. We started with a few attainable ideas. Day trips to New York City or to upstate New York helped us understand our family travel dynamic. Can the kids tolerate long road trips? How long can they last at a museum? What travel gear is best?
Once we understood our kids’ temperament and our tolerance level, we felt confident about planning longer outings.
2. Prioritize Your Travel Goals
Finding the right work life balance is the challenge of the century for working parents, especially moms. Every day we have a nagging feeling that we come up short in our daily tasks as mothers and as employees. To add travel planning to the already overflowing to-do list may not sound like the best idea, unless traveling with kids ranks high among your priorities.
There are so many items on our travel goal bucket list. The trick is to prioritize them. If you want to travel, you need to make it a priority. Booking flights, researching travel destinations, and searching for hotels are on my daily task list, along with finishing up my work presentations and grocery shopping.
3. Invest in Travel
Travel requires you to invest time, money and energy. With the added cost of childcare, it has been important for us to reserve travel funds in our budget. I also set aside time in my calendar to make travel plans. Taking time to do a little research can give you more control and inspiration when traveling with kids.
Using our weekends or limited vacation time for travel means we don’t have a lot of time to sleep in or recharge at home. We need to be up to the challenge of sacrificing down time to experience something new.
TravelingMom Tip: Look at last year’s travel budget. Did it achieve what you wanted it to? Plan for next year based on your successes or shortcomings.
4. Be Organized
Having limited time means being organized is key. Planning the right rest stops, food choices and activities during our travels means our journey is more peaceful. This allows us to savor the new experience.
Being organized doesn’t mean that travel will be hassle-free. However, you will be better equipped to deal with any issues that come your way as you travel with kids. You can make the right choice to get the most of your time and resources after weighing all options. When the weather was unusually cold during a long weekend in Cape Ann, Massachusetts, it prevented us from following our original plan of spending time outdoors. We salvaged the trip by going to our backup plan, which included several scenic drives along the coast and visits to local restaurants.
5. Start in Your Comfort Zone and Slowly Venture Out
Don’t feel like you need to make a trip half way across the world to have a travel experience. Head to a local national park and go hiking with a baby if that’s more your speed. Do what makes YOU feel comfortable. If your baby has trouble sleeping in new environments, then stick to day trips at the beginning. I stayed away from flights while nursing as I didn’t want to haul my breast pump on a plane.
A trip to New York City in the winter reaffirmed my desire to stay away from cold weather destinations until the kids are old enough to bundle themselves up. Keeping track of their winter gear as we wandered in and out of stores got frustrating as my focus shifted from the Christmas lights displays to not losing any hats or gloves.
Plan your travel according to your comfort and tolerance level. With each trip you will see yourself trying more new things at your own pace.
6. Be Flexible with Routines to Achieve Family Travel Goals
Most kids are used to some form of structure in their daily life. When you are on the road keeping to your children’s schedule can be impractical. We chose to be flexible with our kids’ routine in a way that accommodates our travel schedule.
7. Combine Family Trips with Travel Goals
We routinely combine visits with our extended families as a chance to travel. With limited vacation time available, combining family time with travel has helped us get much more out of time with our loved ones. Seeing my mom experience Disney with my 3-year-old son will be a special memory for us. Having grandparents and cousins can also be a valuable resource in terms of babysitting which can help working parents to get a little break.
Do travel goals figure into your list of priorities? How do you go about making travel a reality while keeping your day job? What have you learned as you travel with kids?