I hate it when I hear people saying: you can no longer travel the world as you used to after having kids. No, traveling with a toddler is not impossible, although there are some obvious changes that have to be made.
And guess what? In my case, real travel started after I my son was born and we’ve already been one full month speed-traveling in Europe before he was 2 years-old.
As he grew older, we decided to slow travel instead as we all prefer it. Since then, we’ve spent one full month in cities like Budapest, Valencia or Prague and overall we’ve traveled more than ever before and still had tons of fun!
You can travel a lot and have fun with kids. Or toddlers.
Traveling with a toddler: how difficult is it?
I won’t be that absurd liar who says that switching from traveling as a couple to traveling with a toddler doesn’t change a thing. Yes, things are different but not necessarily difficult. And under no circumstances it’s impossible to travel with a kid!
The biggest problem? You can’t really speed travel as we did before as the little ones burn out pretty fast and they have their own schedule. If you weren’t really hopping from city to city before… that you don’t even have to worry about this!
But I would personally suggest slow(er) travel at least. Being in one country today just to be in a different one tomorrow and leaving for the third one the next day is extremely tiring for adults, let alone toddlers or kids.
Plus, you don’t really get the chance to experience the culture, the attractions and really get to feel the city you’re into if you’re just moving from one place to another, ticking cities off your list to impress people on Instagram.
When traveling with a toddler, I think that the minimum amount of time you should schedule for any given location is 4 days. That’s how we did it during our month-long trip in Europe and it worked fine.
However, at points, it still seemed too fast, so I believe that ideally you should spend 1 week in each location. 2 weeks is better, one month or longer is even better as you and the little ones get the time to find their rhythm and really enjoy the place.
Toddlers have a pace of their own and even if we’re talking about a three-year old or a 10-year old, they will have interests that are different than yours.
They need to rest more often, they need to walk less, they might not care about that museum or statue or castle or whatever you think it’s nice.
They have their own personality and it is us who must adapt to their needs in order to have successful travels and return with amazing experiences. Don’t look at kids as weights you have to carry around, look at them as travel partners and everything will change. Everything will be better!
Even adults have their own perks and quirks and things that we love or don’t like so much. Yet couples travel together and do it well… it’s not much different with a toddler, as long as you know what to expect.
What are the main challenges of traveling with a toddler?
We had two major problems traveling with our two-year old: his sleeping schedule reduced a lot of the time that we could spend outside, exploring or at least changed the times at which we could travel.
This was also a bonus: he usually wakes up at 6-7 AM and has to sleep at around 12-1 PM for a up to a couple of hours. Then he goes to sleep again at 7 or 8 PM at most.
This meant for us that we had outside time early in the morning and during the afternoon, missing the times when it was either too crowded or too hot or both.
So even though we did have to adjust our schedule, it wasn’t really a big problem. As a bonus, when they’re so young, kids can sleep anywhere: carry them in a wrap, go in a park and hold them, let them sleep in the stroller… the opportunities are endless.
Just make sure they do get all the sleep they need. It’s extremely important at this young age!
Back to the schedule, when we visited Verona, we thought we won’t even make it to Juliette’s balcony because of the crowds, but we were shocked to see only a handful of people when we got in the area, randomly strolling around. That’s what happens when you arrive at the site early in the morning!
And we also managed to turn the Con that we had to be back home at 7 PM into a Pro: we used the evenings to catch up with some work (the advantages of building your own blog!) and do some extra planning for the following days.
Plus, it kept us well rested as we too usually went to sleep at 10 PM. You have to adapt and everything will be OK.
Now, the second problem that we had: the costs.
We did pay a lot more than we used to, mostly on accommodation, because we had the little one with us. It was not because of him, though, but because of me: we HAD to sleep in separate rooms, in separate beds because I am an extremely light sleeper. Our son is like a tornado in bed so he keeps waking me up. Therefore… in order for me to keep my sanity intact, we had to have different beds.
This translated in extra rooms in most cases, but I am also OK with even separate beds or sleeping on the sofa in the living room. But all these options are usually more expensive that hostels (ah, I never think I’ll EVER do that now that I have a son) or studios on AirBnb.
Now, if you don’t have anything about sharing a bed, you could still keep costs low: it all depends on how light of a sleeper you are, but be prepared to spend some more money when traveling around the world with a toddler.
There are extra costs involving food mostly – but at this age, they don’t really consume much. Even as they grow older, they still rarely need a full portion bought at restaurants and the increase in costs when cooking at home is minimal.
I mean, our son is 6 years old now (yes, you’re reading an updated article – yay!) and whenever we go out we just order two portions and he eats well, we eat well… and usually there are still some leftovers. Thank you, restaurants, for creating insanely huge portions!
The Bottom Line
If you have kids, don’t let them stop you from traveling the world if that’s what you want or what you dream of! If you don’t have kids just because you think you won’t be able to travel afterwards, understand that it’s not true. You can still travel and have a great time with a toddler. You just have to change your habits a bit and adapt, but it’s all doable.
And trust me – when you see the happiness on their faces, the joy of seeing new things, experiencing new cultures, the same joy that you get when you travel, it will all be worth it!
So how to travel with kids? Just plan your move, take it slow, pack your bags and leave. That’s all!
Now over to you: are you traveling with kids? Share your story and thoughts in the comment section below!