Running The Globe: “So, Who’s Watching the Kids?”
Wanderlust, or “the desire to travel” is as part of the human origin as running. We are an innate curious species. And the more we learn, the more we know we need to know more. Usually, a 12-year schooling career puts a bit of a damper on children’s (and their parents’!) hunger for travel, but lucky for some, the itch remains. Which is probably why more and more young adults take a gap year backpacking to broaden their horizons. Usually, being single, they travel on a shoestring budget and are happy with the bare minimum of comforts. But, fast forward a few years, the singletons get married and feel a sort of social obligation to travel less, acquire more. And the pressure becomes even more pronounced once there is a little one or two.
But what about the itch? Does it take up its knapsack and disappear into the sunset as the first baby make its appearance? Is it snuffed out by to obligation to acquire and to provide? It rarely is! And for some, raising a family only enhances the urge to travel as a way of learning and growing outside a traditional brick and mortar school.
Experts in the field of running the globe with a young family in tow have a few tips for how to make the most of your next run-cation as a family.
No matter what anyone may tell you, there is no child easier to travel with than a baby. The younger the better. Especially if said baby is a breastfed one, which eliminates the hassle of bottles and what not. Most young ones love the motion and sounds of air- or road travel, so soothing baby to sleep shouldn’t be a problem. And if you got your groove with traveling with a kiddo, incorporating another one or two on a family trip should become even easier.
Airlines usually allow babies to fly for free or pay a small fee for baggage allowance. This would include an allowance for a stroller and a car seat, so none of Baby’s safety- or travel gear needs to stay behind when flying.
- A baby wrap or sling is the easiest and most comfortable way to transport a baby while traveling, especially at airports or during other transits. Not only does it free up the parent’s hands for bags or other children, but it should comfort Baby to be close to one of his favorite people.
- Invest in a light, compact umbrella stroller as soon as baby can sit. Airlines allow parents the use of the stroller up to the aircraft’s door. There it will be sky-checked and ready for baby upon arrival at the next destination.
Keep it simple
Packing for a whole family may seem like a daunting task, but practice makes perfect. With careful planning and a minimalist approach, both packing and traveling will be easier. Also, keep in mind the available meal prep facilities or the lack thereof at your destination. Self-catering is usually the more budget- and health friendly option. In this case, a little pre-planning will go a long way.
- The most valuable “tool” in a minimalist approach to traveling but also to everyday life is not to ask “will I need this”, but rather “can I do without this”. By asking yourself if you can do without something, the answer will usually be a more clear “yes” or “no”, instead of a “maybe I’ll need this”, which will result in keeping or packing an unnecessary item. If you can do without something, don’t pack it. A trip with less “stuff” translates into less slogging and organizing and more time for relaxing and enjoyment
- Find out if there are laundry facilities at the accommodation, or choose this as a requirement when you book with Airbnb. This may severely minimize your packing needs.
- Use packing organizers like these nifty packing cells from Amazon to pack for more than one family member in one suitcase. Bulkier items such as jackets and shoes can still be packed anywhere space allows. (Or upcycle the plastic, zippered pouches that linen sometimes are sold in. It works just as well and it’s free!)
- When you plan to self-cater, pack items such as your favorite meal prep tools or herbs and spices that you use often. As long as it doesn’t take up too much space, these may simplify your trip and save a lot of shopping and prep time.
Set yourself up for success
As much fun as traveling is, it can be exhausting. Not only does it play a number on our bodies, but our minds are also subject to a constant barrage of new input. This is the best part of traveling, of course, but too much of a good thing may wear you down. And especially so if you are a younger member of the family.
Depending on the age of the children, try to minimize daily excursion and activities. Similar to any situation, the fun stops when the baby has had enough. So plan around the youngest or “least travel-inclined” member of the family. If they need naps, don’t skip them (too often). Overextending anyone’s enthusiasm may turn the rest of the trip sour.
Yes, visiting far-off new places may be a once-in-a-lifetime event, but traveling with your family should be fun and sustainable. Best pick a few top activities and revel in the joy of sharing the experience it with your loved ones. Because that is always the best part of traveling.
Running or a race day is obviously imperative on a run-cation, which translates to solo-parenting and/or seconding for the other parent. A few clever tips may go a long way in making these occasions less stressful for everyone.
- For children, just as for adults, predictability to some extent makes us feel safe and comfortable. In this way, keeping up simple daily routines is very important, especially for the young ones, to comfort them while mostly out of their normal comfort zones. This may include bath- and bedtimes, meal times and naps or wind-down times mid day.
- Communication is equally important. When all members of the family feel heard and their opinion equally valued, they may be more inclined to cooperate. Discussing activities and schedules with family members make everyone feel in control of their own day. A family feeling in control and relaxed is always a good thing on a trip, especially a run-cation.
- And lastly, sometimes being bored is a good thing. Children, don’t need to be kept entertained by toys or devices during every waking hour of the day. Kids are very resourceful. Left to their own device they will either take a much-needed break or find some sort of ingenious way to entertain themselves. Sometimes, all a parent needs to do is stand back and watch the magic unfold.
In a Nutshell
Don’t let anyone tell you to give up your dream of running the globe once you have a family. It is said that “Traveling is the only thing you can buy that makes you rich”. And this is true, especially when you get to travel with those you love. Traveling frequently to see and experience new places on the run is not only doable but actually becomes easy if you keep it up and keep it simple.