As one of our goals for 2018, we wanted to take our kids on their first international trip. Growing up, our family traveled a little bit (mostly up and down the East Coast), but we never went international. When we were younger, it was not financially feasible for my parents to do this. And as we got older, we were three busy kids with lots of school and extracurriculars, so when we finally got away, it was usually to visit family or head to a beach somewhere.
My first trip abroad was the summer before my senior year of college and I headed to Australia and New Zealand for a month. Getting to experience the culture and environment of another country was awesome and I decided it was something I wanted my kids to experience at a young age (as long as we could afford to do it).
Now that they are 6 and 8, we don’t have nap times to work around and they don’t have commitments they can’t miss, so we took them across the border to Cancun for Spring Break 2018! They loved it. Beach, pool, tons of treats – what’s not to love for two young boys!
(Dean and I enjoyed ourselves too, but it was definitely more stressful to travel international with kids. It’s a little easier when it’s just the adults, but in the back of my mind I was always just a little on edge – listening closely at bedtime to make sure they didn’t sleep walk out of the room, worried when they took a bathroom break solo in the busy pool area, swimming and splashing a little too close to the college kids on Spring Break, etc.)
Now that I’ve done it, here are little tips I’d recommend for traveling international with your kiddos.
- Try somewhere relatively close to home. While my kids have flown several times before, they’ve never flown longer than 2-ish hours. It was only a 3 hour flight from Charlotte to Cancun, so it was manageable. I didn’t want to test a 14-hour flight to Fiji for their first international trip.
- All-inclusive is awesome. They loved that they could do anything whenever – go get a snack or tropical drink, join in kids club activities or just swim in the pools. These places tend to have lots of things going on throughout the day so there is plenty to do.
- Let them try new things, or the same old. We had our kids try some fruits they don’t often get at home and also some of the Mexican dishes at meals. But they also went up and tried foods they were familiar with as well. It was fun to see them taste foods they weren’t used to and see what they liked.
- Adjust your expectations. We tried the nice, dress up resort restaurant one night and decided once was enough. It’s meant to be an experience and sitting in a restaurant for over 90 mins just isn’t fun for my kids. We decided to stay with the buffet – which changed it’s theme each night – that way they didn’t have to sit through such a long meal. We’ll save the special resort restaurants for the times that Dean and I go by ourselves.
- Have fun. Usually Dean and I sit by the pool or beach and relax when it’s just the two of us, and while we definitely did that, we also took our kids to the swim up bar, helped them build a sandcastle and hosted an Easter egg hunt in our room. This trip really wasn’t about us and what we like to do on vacation, so it was important they enjoyed the trip as well.
Have you taken your kids on a big trip? Where did you go? Any best practices for traveling with kids?