You better travel now because once you have kids…

  • by

How many times have you heard this statement? How many times has someone made a comment that you must travel all the time now to make up for how much you won’t travel once you have kids?

I heard it. I heard it over and over. And it freaked me out.

The thing about me is that, when something freaks me out, when someone tells me I can’t do something, I automatically make it my mission to do it and to prove them wrong. I may not argue with you about it. I may not boldly declare that I’m going to prove you wrong, but I will make plans to do it in my journal. I will work the whole thing out in my head until I know it will work for me.

There are several reasons that I knew I could not and would not stop traveling once I had kids. These reasons are also the same reasons I knew I would travel with my kids and not leave them with family members (don’t get me wrong. One day, I will travel without my kids also. In my imaginary world where I am a strong enough parent to have alone time with my husband and can leave the kids with their grandparents without massive feelings of guilt and anxiety, I will do it. I will. I will. I just also want to reiterate that I think taking kids on trips is also very important). First, I travel to visit my family. We don’t live in the same state as my parents, and we don’t live in the same country as my sister. Having holidays and summer vacations with them is one of my biggest priorities and is even more important now that I want my kids to know their extended family members. Second, I love to see new places, immerse myself in the peace of being somewhere different that I can shut myself off from my world and learn about someone else’s. I wanted that for my kids too. I get anxious being in the same spot for too long. I’m pretty sure I’m partially writing this because I am so anxious about the prospect of being stateside for much longer as it’s been over two years since we last went on a big trip. This pandemic is making me a mental case (and I know I’m not alone).

So what did I do? Did I travel with kids? You bet I did.

When Sofie was born, we knew that Ben had a good amount of parental bonding time from the company he works for. We also knew that I had booked a wedding in London for August 2018, the perfect time, in my opinion to take Sofie on her first international trip. So we made the decision to have him split his leave, taking 8 weeks up front and 4 weeks for the wedding. We figured a month would let us have time in London, go down to Cornwall for a little beach time and then head over to see my sister in the Netherlands. We also thought we’d have a week of downtime to rest and recoup from traveling before he went back to the office. We planned to take Ben’s sister along with us to babysit.

Then things spiraled.

The wedding was canceled just before we booked our travel, just not before my sister in law booked hers. Sorry, Katie. We realized that we still wanted to travel, but now that London was no longer a required destination, we could go anywhere. I contacted some wedding planners to see if they still needed any last minute photographers. I contacted some designers to put together some shoots. I contacted everyone and anyone who even thought it would be fun to shoot thought. With all the emailing and texting and Instagram messaging, I ended up with two editorial shoots, a couple’s mini session, a rondezvous with my sister in Nice and Amsterdam, and a little downtime for personal exploration in-between.

What started out as a one country, two locations trip to shoot a wedding ended up being a 7 country tour that took the entire last 4 weeks of Ben’s leave with a teething 9 month old who turned 10 months old a few days after we returned to the States.

We began the trip by flying into Dublin for afternoon tea, running around the city like crazy people, buying a beautiful handwoven blanket that we had shipped back to our home, and road-tripping down through Ireland to Kinsale. We stayed there one night, drove down to Bantry, and photographed a stunning editorial with House of Hannah Events and a lovely team. Then we drove over a mountain to Kenmare, stayed there one night (but didn’t sleep because we had a teething baby. Now granted, we didn’t know she was teething because, at this point, we just assumed she would never get teeth after months of chewing and drooling and no signs of any pearly whites down there). We drove part of the Ring of Kerry, listening to James Corden’s audiobook while Sofie snoozed in the background, went to a castle, and almost missed a flight out of Cork to Edinburgh. Arriving in Edinburgh around 11 PM, we nearly didn’t get to eat dinner, ordered pizza and a pint of ice cream, and crashed, spending the next day running around and reminiscing about our 2016 trip to Edinburgh. Don’t forget, I’m spending most of this time taking pictures with my honker of a Contax 645 camera. Sofie spent most of the time in the stroller, taking naps, or posing for pictures, or insisting on walking. She couldn’t actually walk, by the way.

Without going into too much more detail (for this post at least), we did 1/2 more day in Scotland, drove down to the Lake District, spent several days bopping around there (more like driving from one thing to the next and not at all relaxing as we had planned), drove to Bath, drove to Oxford, drove back to Bath, took a train to London to take the train to Paris. We finally stopped somewhere long enough to enjoy the 80 degrees October weather, no big deal, did a mini session and an editorial hopped back on a train to Versailles, left Paris sometime later, and met up with my sister in Nice. This was such fun, and I highly recommend enjoying some downtime in the South of France. Don’t do any site-seeing, maybe take the train to some different towns, but literally just go to enjoy the color of that incredible Mediterranean Sea. From there we drove to Locarno, Switzerland, then to Lake Como, back to Locarno to “sleep”, to Lauterbrunnen, and back, and that was our Swiss experience. At this point, we had planned to fly to Amsterdam, but as we had a car rental, we chose to drive.

Don’t drive from Switzerland to Amsterdam with an almost 10 month old.

Don’t drive from Switzerland to Amsterdam at all. That was a miserable drive. What was supposed to be a total of 12 hours that we chose to split by staying in Colmar for one night ended up being a 7 hour drive the first day and a 9-hour drive the second day. Maybe it was more. It definitely felt like more when we got stuck in traffic coming into Amsterdam. After getting to spend a few freezing cold days with my sister, we flew home.

So how was it traveling with a baby? It was the best. It was exhausting. But it was the best. Having her there, seeing everything through her eyes, slowing down for her, were all the things I needed to make the trip that much more magical. Were we extremely jetlagged when we got back? Yes. Definitely, 100% more jetlagged than we normally are. We slept through Sofie’s first Halloween. We spent a week watching all our normal shows at 3 in the morning. But I would do it again. And I have. Since Sofie was born, she has been to more than these 7 countries. She’s been to Canada, New York (3 times), Dallas (8 times), Oregon (3 times), California, and Washington DC. I’m not exactly sure if that’s all of them.

This year, we plan to do the same thing with Henry. It might look very different. In fact, I know it will. Even if travel does open up to the world, we will not be taking the kids to 7 different countries in one month. For now we’ll just assume that he’ll be stateside for a while.

Is it crazy to travel with kids? Maybe. But I’ll tell you this much. Sofie is an excellent flyer. Henry already is too, for that matter. She is polite, quiet, and she loves being on a plane. We travel with more luggage than we used to, but we’ve made it work for us. Finally, I wouldn’t trade the crazy for trying to squeeze in a bunch of travel before our kids came. They make it so much more exciting, and they get to learn so much from being exposed to new places and cultures.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *