The idea of travelling with your children is beautiful. Showing them the world, watching them grow socially and culturally - Lots of colorful photos and incredible stories to show and tell as they get older. Not often do the little in-between details cross your mind like.. bringing toilet paper/wipes for roadside stops in the middle of nowhere, tantrums over the toy at the gas station, "tired legs" ten steps into a hike, lugging gear/food/water around for everyone.. the list goes on. As exhausting as it can be, still no moment will ever exceed the overall experience. Watching the sunrises and sunsets, seeing wildlife, the smell of the tent and sound of the zipper when you wake in the morning. Something about food while camping.. everything tastes good - especially cooked over a campfire. After all, you know it was worth the trek.
Last week I had two trips "planned", both with Keegan (my four year old son) in tow. I say "plan" because you can never be too sure about how smooth things are about to go when your road tripping buddy is only four.
Keegan has been my little partner in crime on many travels and seems to be quite happy to join in with a good attitude. There are twists and turns from time to time and this is where I have had to learn how to balance "plans" with the importance of parenting and Keegan's overall experience.
When planning a trip with Keegan my best plans are NO PLANS. Sometimes an unexpected stop on the side of the road takes us on an unforeseen adventure. There is beauty in the mystery. It took me a while to learn to balance my adventurous side with being a mother. Overall, I strongly believe all parents/families should make an effort to travel with their kids. It isn't easy - but it is so worth it.
Random Advice to Travelling Parents
- Don't give too many details on the trip ahead of time, if things change it could cause a stir. Keegs likes to do the "Are we there yet?" thing. I didn't think that was real until I had a child.
- Along with packing your kids stuff - Let them pack their own small bag. Keegan packs his own little backpack on trips, this way he is responsible and mostly happy with the choices he has of toys, favorite cup etc.
- Being playful and creative on hikes, at climbing spots, long car rides.. can make all the difference. We play I-Spy, create huts from fallen branches, build pretend bonfires and Keegan becomes "King of the Witches" - his words.
- Involve your child as much as possible, even if you have to pretend they are helping. Pumping gas, holding a tent post, collecting small rocks to build a fire pit, even offering an item like a headlamp to wear can make them feel special. Keeping Keegs busy with things at camp seems to encourage him to be helpful and not feel left out.
- Allow your little one to pick an activity they would like to do each day. I get to see more of Keegan's personality and what he likes when I allow him to choose - it always ends up being more fun anyway.
- Just get up and go! Less time to plan and worry about all of the things that can go wrong in between. Our BEST trips are always last minute.
- Don't go into your adventure with a tight schedule. Planning back to back ventures could get you disappointed. Having gaps in the day to day schedule of exploring can create space for play time, minor hang ups, hungry bellies, missing shoes, naps etc.
- After you have children, don't run off with your new family. Keep your friends! You will need a tribe of people you trust to help you along the way. Bringing a good friend along on trips (like Kaycee), is always a great idea. Kaycee is a lifesaver for me and Keegan. I can't beat myself up for not being able to do everything on my own.. Kaycee is happy to lend a helping hand when times are tough hiking through rocks, remembering last minute things we may have forgotten.. she is always loving towards Keegan. - Don't move forward in your plans without a tribal member with you, or in support of you (on backup JIC).
Be prepared for anything. And most importantly, always remember..
-->> Monkey-See-Monkey-Do! <<--