Would I recommend traveling overseas with kids? Absolutely not. There was a good reason I held off for so many years waiting for them to turn the “perfect” age, but when my parents offered to pay for our trip expenditures to make sure that we participated in the next Greece family reunion, my financial excuses no longer had validity. In retrospect, we ended up taking a trip of a lifetime! With bungalows on the beach at a 5 resort, what could possibly go wrong? Right?
Well, here is what I would like to share with anyone who is interested in traveling overseas with children:
Yes, I KNOW everyone always advises you not to overpack, but it’s true. The more you pack, the more YOU as a parent have to lug around! And as much as they demand they want their own luggage, and insist they WILL take responsibility for it, I guarantee at some point in time, you will probably be the proud carrier of two overpacked, stuffed sets of luggage.
I promise your kid doesn’t need an outfit for every day. And if you run out of clean clothes, the hotel I was at charged $10 to wash and dry a full laundry bag. Or you can always wash them in the sink or tub and hang them to dry like the rest of the hotel is probably doing. You’ll see 🙂
2. The Dreadful Airplane Ride
If you are going overseas, then it’s highly likely you will be traveling on an airplane for a very, very, VERY long time. No matter how many articles you pack to entertain the kids, they will be bored, complain, and get fidgety. People will stare when they cry loudly, get extremely annoyed, and it will most likely be stressful for everyone involved.
I am a huge advocate for limited screen time with TVs, tablets, and phones, but on the return home, I did allow my daughter to watch about nine-hours or more of uninterrupted TV. Thank God for technology.
3. Be Prepared
I don’t care how modern a country has become, you will experience some sort of culture shock when you are visiting. You will enter a bathroom (just follow the signs that say WC, hint #1) and remember to look for a foot pedal if you can’t figure out how to turn the faucet water on. If you are a stickler for keeping your kids on a set schedule, well you better be open to making an entirely new one overseas! Because there is still siesta time in many areas, and well, sometimes dinner is going to take place at 10:30p.m. or later. We enjoyed a few ice creams at 1a.m., and we weren’t alone. The city was bustling with families, kids, and traffic at this time. Ok, maybe we enjoyed more than a few ice creams, the food in Greece is just so good!
4. Stay Calm
This very well could have gone down in history as one of the most stressful events of my life. We created some of the best memories, but getting to that point was rough. It is important to remember that everyone is off schedule, probably tired, and overwhelmed, and that is not a good combination for kids. Additionally, it’s definitely super difficult for their adult counterparts.
Just when you get into the swing of things, it’s probably going to be time to pack it up and head home. Try not to spend too much time in stressed out mode, in fact, pack some extra magnesium, or whatever help keeps you calm. If exercise is the key for you, make sure to incorporate that into your day, even if it means getting up a bit earlier than the gang.
5. Jet Lag
This is a real thing. It takes a good week for your body to adjust to the time difference. Upon our arrival home, we’d all wake up at 4a.m. ready to begin the day, and then be exhausted at 8 or 9p.m. On that very first day back, we took a family trip to the 24 hour Walmart for groceries at 5a.m.! When making your plans for a family trip, make sure you incorporate recovery time. Oh, and you’ll probably want to include some mental recovery time as well!
All in all, I have to admit, seeing the kids run and climb through ancient ruins that dated back to 40 BC over playing in the typical jungle gym was a pretty cool sight to see. Were they allowed to do that? Um… that’s a different story on its own……