Travel with children. As a mother of now 8 and 11 year old boys, the phrase evokes such a variety of emotions in me. From nostalgia, to exhaustion, to excitement. The pandemic has severely restricted our family’s airplane travel. But somehow we’ve still managed to find ways to see new places over the past two years.
Have you been craving travel with your little ones? Or perhaps toying with the idea of traveling with them, but feeling some apprehension about it? If so, read on to be inspired!
I’m so delighted to be joined today for a guest post by ‘Iolani Bullock, a working mama and also the author of a brand new children’s book, Lenox Takes Flight, who cares deeply about (1) the world-opening experience of travel with children, and (2) the importance of diverse protagonists in children’s books. I read the book to my boys, and WOW did it spark some amazing conversations with them!
Grab a copy of her book, and also join me on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022, from 12-1pm EST, as I interview ‘Iolani about her work. Register for this February 2022 Mindful Return book talk here!
Now, over to ‘Iolani!
“That’s a really long flight for a baby”. “What if they don’t have diapers and baby necessities”? “Hospitals? If the baby gets sick, you might be sorry.” “But he won’t even remember it”!
These were the questions and comments I received from well-meaning friends and family who thought my husband and I were crazy for deciding to take our then, two-month-old son Lenox to Bangkok, Thailand.
Traveling with children is a big decision for any working parent, let alone taking a journey halfway around the world. But maximizing my maternity leave and making it coincide with my husband’s work trip seemed like a no brainer.
Now, being on the other side of our Thailand adventure, I want parents to know that taking a trip with children is not as daunting as it sounds. And travel is the best type of education that kids can get outside of a classroom.
Planning such a big trip was overwhelming for me as a seasoned traveler, but more so as a parent. The questions from loved ones planted “what if” seeds in my mind. At a certain point, I took a step back and realized that children are born and survive everywhere. Why wouldn’t Lenox be okay? I knew I could make it work and poured myself into preparation.
First, I scoured blogs and travel groups for tips, and found incredibly helpful information such as calling the airline to book the bulkhead seat that had a built-in bassinet for babies. I also learned that reading books about travel with children of any age, helped to create associations that put them at ease on the trip. Tapping my network also helped me connect with families who had traveled to and lived in Bangkok.
Next, I decided to only pack necessities and committed to trying local products. For instance, we packed enough diapers to get us through the first few days and purchased local diapers there, which were of great quality and much cheaper.
Finally, I made a promise to myself that I’d “go with the flow.” That was much easier said than done. I refused to put too many expectations on nap or feeding schedules for myself and Lenox. Having been to Thailand before, I knew that bringing a stroller wouldn’t be practical and riding around in tuk tuks was most efficient, despite not having seatbelts. As long as I followed my gut and made the best choices that I could in any given moment, everything would be fine. And it was!
If I could do it all over again, I would not only have taken the trip, but I would have stayed longer. There were so many benefits to our family, both as individuals and as a unit. I knew that exposing Lenox to different sights, smells, and sounds would broaden his perspective and expand his point of view no matter his age.
Ever since our trip, he has always been open to trying new things and isn’t afraid of experiences or people who are different from himself. Someone asked why we didn’t consider waiting until Lenox was older to take the trip, so he would have fond memories. It became clear that the memories weren’t just for Lenox, but they were for me as a Mom and that was more than enough.
Being outside of our comfort zones brought us even closer as a family and created new shared experiences that we’d treasure forever.
So my advice? Take that trip! Pack light, and absorb all that every new destination has to offer.
‘Iolani L. Bullock is a Bronx native and mother of two who caught the travel bug at a young age. A diversity, equity and inclusion professional by day and novelist by night, she believes that our differences are what make us special and that all children deserve to see themselves at the center of a story.
Want more practical tips on working parenthood? Check out my book, Back to Work After Baby: How to Plan and Navigate a Mindful Return from Maternity Leave