Please join us in welcoming guest author Anna Wilkens, who originally hails from Sweden. Anna is currently based in San Francisco and enjoys traveling the world with her two-and-a-half year-old daughter.
I always knew that having a child wouldn’t stop me from traveling. But as I used to do at least a few adventurous trips every year —backpacking through India or southeast Asia, sailing around New Zealand, or following ancient trails in Guatemala — traveling did change after the arrival of my kid. Don’t get me wrong — I still enjoy it, just in a different way. The long and intense travels, like the adventurous trips, aren’t as appealing anymore.
Traveling for me is really about meeting people and having new experiences. And, as I’m sure you know, traveling in the company of a child is a terrific conversation starter and a way to connect with people, even the ones you never thought you’d find something to relate to. When we were in Mexico, for example, I learned twice as much Spanish just because of my daughter. In every taqueria and on every street corner, people started talking to our little curly blond haired girl and me.
And, when it comes to new experiences, practically everything is an adventure for an energetic, curious two-year old. Experiencing things together with her is an amazing eye opener. “Look at that!” was one of my daughter’s first sentences. And for a two-year old, there’s a lot to look at…
After all, traveling is the excitement, the thrill to cope with unforeseen challenges, and to experience that together with your child creates a great connection and it strengthens you as a parent. But to recognize that you can travel a bit differently makes it so much more enjoyable.
Here are some of my top tips for traveling with a child:
- Skip the historic or cultural experiences. Kids are the perfect excuse to go for more sun and more beaches!
- Enjoy local travels and skip the long distances. Why not make a couple of day trips instead of paying for an expensive hotel where you can’t put your child to rest anyway?
- Everything takes longer than planned, so learn to enjoy it! Kids have a funny concept of time. Fortunately, vacations are free from most of the timeframes that we need to follow in our everyday lives.
- Go easy on yourself. With small children comes a lot of stuff — diapers, wipers, strollers, five sets of clothing, toys — that’s hard to fit in a backpack!
- Take the train! The train is my preferred mode of transportation and I’ve found it to be much better than the car or a plane where children are more confined to a minimal area.
- More nature and less city.