Not much to do with skiing, but hey, it’s summer and summer is all about vacation. And, you never know, 2012 might just be the winter you decide to take the family to Les Trois Vallees or St. Anton. You never know when this information might come in really handy.
From the moment our boys were born it seems as if we’ve been traveling. My husband often jokes that he doesn’t know what we’re running from, but we’re running pretty darn fast. He’s right. We exist in a near constant state of departure and arrival, traveling and returning. We travel to ski, to visit family and friends, to pursue adventures, to broaden our knowledge and to embrace the world.
When I tell our friends that we took our sons to the U.K. for three weeks when they were just 3 years old and 14 months old, respectively, they are often shocked. At the time, we didn’t think twice about it. We had friends to visit in London and a family reunion in Yorkshire. There wasn’t really any reason not to go. This summer, we are returning to visit the same friends in London, this time with a 14-year-old and a 12-year-old. Since I have travel on the brain, I’ll be sharing what we’ve learned during 11 years of international travel with kids in three posts over the next three weeks.
No Child Is Too Young To Travel
In fact, younger is sometimes better. It certainly can be easier. An infant won’t fight you about staying in a car seat on a long-haul flight. A toddler will. An elementary school age child probably won’t fight you for control of the itinerary, a teenager might. On the flip side, your baby won’t remember a thing, but you will. Our youngest son took his first steps toward the shark tank at the Plymouth (England) Aquarium. He doesn’t remember, but we have a good story to share.
Choosing A Destination
The best tip I know for choosing a destination is choose somewhere you (the parents) want to go and feel comfortable taking your kids. If you feel comfortable and safe, your kids will feel comfortable and safe. Aside from one restaurant in rural Yorkshire that had a sign in the window (no service for children), we’ve never felt unwelcome with little ones in tow. And we really weren’t that unwelcome. While the owner of the restaurant wouldn’t let us in, he did seat us in his lovely garden and provided service to us al fresco.
Mooch Off Friends and Family
Since we’ve had kids, we’ve only traveled internationally one time to a destination where we didn’t have friends or family. Why? Because hotels, children and jet lag don’t mix. At least they don’t mix very well. If you can, choose a destination where you will stay with friends for the first several days and nights. Having a home to spread out in means that your children can catch up on sleep and so can you.
Live Like A Local
Even better, if your friends have children, your kids immediately have someone with which to play, hang out and bond. Not only that, but these children will provide your children with a window into their culture that no amount of books, tours, movies or museums ever could. Stay with locals and live like a local. There is no better learning experience for kids.
Home Sweet Home Base
If you don’t have friends or family with which to stay, try to choose destinations where you can rent a cottage or villa for a week. Pick a place where you can immerse yourself in local life, be it a big city or a tiny village. Choose somewhere central to activities you love and make it your home base. Figure out where the local kids hang out and take your children there too. Swimming pools, parks, and beaches are good places for your kids to blow off pent-up energy and maybe make some new friends, too.
Mix It Up
If you can travel for more than a week, mix up your journey with a home base and then perhaps a week traveling about. I don’t ever recommend rapid country-hopping (it’s too exhausting), but it is fun and easy to choose a region of one country and explore several towns.
Next: Getting There
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