What Do They Speak In???

This was the first question our oldest son asked us as we deplaned in South Dakota last weekend. It isn’t an unusual question for him, in fact, based on his experience of travel – it is a very valid question. See, we’re raising our kids to be world travelers and what comes with that is the understanding that not everyone speaks English. So when we got off the plane in South Dakota, he wanted to be sure he would be able to talk to the people we would encounter there.

Every time we travel to a new place we try to get our kids to experience the culture of the area. This definitely includes language. We try to teach them a few words to use so that they can at the very least say please and thank you. When we came back from our trip to Italy when our oldest was about 18 months he was telling everyone “Ciao” as we got off the plane! It can be a very fun learning experience for the whole family. But in this instance, no learning necessary – he can already talk everyone’s ear off in English!

Less is… Well, Less!!

When it comes to luggage and anything that has to be carried from the house to the car, from the car to the airport, to the check-in counter, through security, to the gate, onto the airplane, off of the airplane, to the shuttle/train/taxi and finally to your destination, less is better! Less feels like less but not in a bad way. Less comes with all of the benefits of mobility, having less to control during all of those stops and checkpoints we all know and love as we travel through the airport and less gives you the ability to enjoy yourself.

When we first started traveling we didn’t have this mentality. We made sure we had enough of all of our clothes, several extra pairs of shoes (well, not me on our trip to Vienna which ended up requiring a shoe purchase but more on that later!), coats, magazines, bathroom accessories, books, cameras and anything else we could fit within the number of bags we could check for free. We never once went over the weight limit but we definitely came close. Our first international trip together to Vienna (pre-kids), we discovered 1. we brought too much and didn’t use most of it 2. our suitcase was terrible to pull across cobblestone sidewalks 3. our suitcase was too heavy and 4. our carry on bags weren’t very convenient or comfortable to carry! We tried to remember all of this on our first trip with our oldest son when he was 10 months old but with not a lot of success…

First International Family Trip

You’re thinking, it doesn’t look too bad – just a suitcase and two carry on bags… but you have no idea how heavy that suitcase was! Jeremy could wear it like a backpack but that was almost impossible due to how heavy it was. Why was it so heavy? Well, we packed enough clothes for the baby to stay two weeks (we were only there for one), we thought they might not have food there (or something!) so we packed all of the baby food, cereal, and snacks he would need, we packed enough clothes for both of us for the week plus an extra shirt and underwear and an extra pair of shoes for each of us. We also had our light jackets in the suitcase so it’d be one less thing to carry in the airport. It was a successful trip. The suitcase was much lighter on the way home because our son ate all his food and we aren’t big on buying a bunch of stuff to fill the suitcase on the way home. Once we were home we thought we could certainly do better next time…

Second International Family Trip

And we did? This trip we didn’t bring any food, had only a few extra sets of clothes for our son and a few extras for each of us. We actually ended up looking like we were bringing more! But the suitcase wasn’t as heavy, one of the carry on backpacks actually turned into a baby carrier and we could wear all of our bags to stay hands-free. So in some ways it was better but still – too much to bring along. We could do better. Less is less after all.

Less Luggage!!

We finally had better success! We used the suitcase without the zip-on backpack attachment and only had two carry on bags! It was so much nicer for us to travel with so much less, especially on this trip because we had quite the walk trying to find our rented apartment in a residential area. I couldn’t imagine how grumpy we would have been hauling a bunch of stuff by the time we got where we were going.

Yikes!! A family of four traveling abroad

Then we added a second child to the mix… when we did that, we also added a bag but it wasn’t all bad. We removed the backpack that converted into a child carrier, added a regular backpack in its place (which also happens to zip on to the front of the suitcase) and allowed our oldest son to have a small backpack of his own to carry his toys. I know plenty of people, I won’t name names, that travel with this much luggage on their own! So I didn’t feel too bad that this is where we ended up on our first international trip with the four of us.

Extras include a stroller for our friends and our travel stroller

Our latest try, however, looks like we forgot our advice. But we have friends living in Europe and they were in desperate need of a new stroller. So, being the awesome friends that we are, we said we would check it with our bag and bring it along with us if they would meet up with us in Barcelona. How could they resist?!? They couldn’t, so needless to say, on our second trip traveling with the four of us, we had more going out but on the return trip – we had LESS!!!

Every time we get ready to pack, I remind myself that Less is Less. The goal is to pack the four of us in the least amount of luggage and with hands-free options as much as possible. Just remember – Less is Less.  You really won’t miss what you leave behind as long as you choose wisely AND you won’t have the hassle of lugging a bunch of extra weight around with you. Who doesn’t want to travel with less??

 

It’s Not Too Late To Travel The World

I didn’t catch the overseas travel bug until I thought it was too late. I’d dreamed of traveling to other lands, but had never bothered to make it happen. When friends invited us to Vienna, we were already expecting our first son. Certainly we wouldn’t be able to take other trips like this after he was born?

That trip to Vienna was better than I could have expected. The history, the culture, the food – I wanted to experience more of it. My wife, who had been quite a few more places than I, didn’t need convincing. So when the same friends invited us and our not-quite one-year-old to Madrid, we rolled the dice.

And guess what? There were some extra logistics, but we had a great time. In many ways the experience was even better for daring it with a baby.

We’re not here to tell you that traveling with kids is the only way to do it. And we’re not telling you that you must. But if you’ve dreamed of seeing the world, you need to know that you can. And that your kids will be the better for it. And that you don’t have to break the bank to make it happen.

Traveling – all kinds of adventurous, exciting, crazy traveling – can be done as a family. You’ll spend time together. You’ll share experiences with each other. And you’ll love it.

We realized during that trip how little we knew about making it work. Mostly, we just needed help figuring out what was OK. Eight countries and counting and we’re still learning. We think we have something to share, and that maybe together we overcome the fear that so many have around family travel. And maybe you too can catch the travel bug too late – FamVoyage!

Hello world!

Do you travel with your kids? No? Why?? Is it because someone once told you, travel now because once you have kids you can’t travel? We were told that, on more than one occasion – but do you know what we do? We travel with our kids! Before our first child was 1, he had been on 12 flights. By the time he was 2 he had a bunch more under his belt. Our second son has been on par with the first in terms of travel, reaching the same number of countries visited by the time he turned two! On almost every trip we take, someone comments how great our kids are. It isn’t because they’re just really good boys (they are) but because we take them on our trips. We let them experience traveling with us and we have high expectations of good behavior. We love traveling with our kids and we think you should too. We are going to give you the tips and time-tested hints to do it!! Traveling with your kids is awesome, visiting new places is a lot of fun! Get out there an experience the world – with your kids!!