As rewarding as it is, travel with family can be challenging. There is a long list of things to consider. When you travel by yourself, everything is much simpler, but when you add more people to the mix, things can get complicated. Been there, done that.
When you travel with friends, especially those in your age group, the experience can be enjoyable…or chaotic. The same applies when you travel with your family. It’s a different ballgame from traveling alone, and if you’re not well prepared for it, it will likely be a disaster.
What is it like? Should we even do it? What are the pros and cons? What can we do to make it a pleasant experience? It can be one of the best experiences of your life, but how? Let’s find out!
What Is Travel with Family Like?
There is no one size fits all here. I will try to describe it based on my experiences so you can have a better idea in case you have never done it. However, keep in mind your experience may be different from mine. You can relate to some points but not all, and that’s totally fine. We can learn from each other. That’s what matters.
We have to understand that travel with family depends on several factors. Are you traveling with your wife/husband and kids or are you traveling with your siblings or parents? Are there any babies or seniors in your group? Is there anyone with a disability? These are things we should consider carefully. Traveling with kids is different from traveling with seniors.
Each one of us has different needs and preferences. Simple things like eating breakfast can make a big difference. For instance, my parents are not used to eating breakfast, but I always eat it. They prefer to get up late and/or rest at the hotel, but I prefer to get up early, get ready, and go out to explore. And the list could go on and on. The problem comes when all these little things add up and you do nothing about it. You have to have a plan.
I’ve also traveled with my nephews and it has been chaotic, to say the least. They cry or throw tantrums because they’re hungry, they’re tired, or they want to go to the restroom. It’s sometimes hard to find out what it is that troubles them. Those with kids will understand.
So, the answer is it varies. It’s not easy, I’ll warn you, but it’s worth it.
I’m single and I don’t have any kids, so whenever I travel I either do it by myself or with friends. However, in the last few years, I took to traveling with my parents, and it’s something I have come to enjoy immensely. I love taking them to the magical towns in Mexico, to the beach, or the countryside. I love seeing their happy faces and giving something back to them for all they’ve done for me. We have had so many good experiences, but it has not been easy.
For starters, my mom broke her ankle 5 years ago and had to undergo surgery. As a result, she can’t walk or stand for long periods ever since. When we travel, we have to take breaks so she can sit down and rest her feet. If we have to go up, we look for ramps but they’re not always available. So, we have to help her climb up the stairs slowly. When we walk, we have to do it at a slower pace. When there are available wheelchairs, she doesn’t want one. So, everything takes us longer than usual.
My dad is a picky eater. When we go out to eat, we sometimes have a hard time finding a good place. Mexican food is so varied and dishes are prepared differently in each region even though they go by the same name. We’ve had so many experiences in this regard. For example, we’re used to eating seafood with crackers, but in many parts of Mexico, they eat it with a tortilla. Also, they make salsas with different types of pepper. When we went to Campeche, for instance, my dad did not like the salsa anywhere we went because it was made of habanero pepper.
When we travel, we usually rent a car, and my dad and I take turns driving. We’ve had a few arguments because he doesn’t listen to me when I’m giving him directions. Well, sometimes, but when it happens, we miss an exit, and sometimes we have to drive a long distance before we’re able to make a U-turn. Or when we can’t find a parking spot or there’s a lot of traffic, he starts complaining and gets on my nerves lol. I admit it.
There are many more things I could include, but it would be a super long post. I’ll probably write a second part later on.
Pros of Traveling with Family
Traveling with family has many advantages. Below are some of them:
- You probably know them better than you know your friends. Since you live/lived with them, you know what they like or don’t like. You don’t have to ask. On the contrary, when you travel with friends, you don’t get to know them until you travel with them.
- It’s a great way to bond together. You can use this time away from everyday life to improve your relationship or patch things up if there was a problem.
- You don’t have to pretend anything. Since your family already knows you, you don’t have to pretend about liking/not liking something. You can be yourself. Obviously, there are exceptions, but I think it applies to most cases.
- It allows you to appreciate the little things in life. Spending time with them at a park or a museum, touring the city markets, shopping for souvenirs, taking photos together, and watching the stars at night from your balcony or around a campfire are priceless experiences.
- It’s a great opportunity to teach your kids something or learn together as a family. You might learn something new and even change your mindset as a result.
- You learn to see things from a different perspective. When we travel by ourselves, we might tend to be more organized and do everything in a rush, but when we travel with family, we often have to take it slower. This allows us to appreciate things we did not appreciate before like enjoying our time and not obsess ourselves over a list. We become more spontaneous.
- You’re never alone. We may enjoy the silence and benefits of being by ourselves, but sometimes we need others around us. Who better than our family to keep us company?
Cons of Traveling with Family
Let’s look at some cons now. Here I could mention:
- It’s more expensive. Not only do you have to pay for your expenses but also those of your family. You have to get a bigger room, a bigger car, etc.
- If you had set plans for your trip, your little ones might change it all. Not just the little ones, but your parents or whoever you travel with. You will likely have different interests, and that makes the organization more difficult.
- When traveling with babies or seniors, you have to advance at a slower pace. They tire more easily. You will have to take more time to do everything.
- Not all activities are suitable for everyone. Simple activities such as walking or climbing stairs can be challenging.
- You have to carry more stuff. You might have to bring a diaper bag, a stroller, a wheelchair, a walker, etc.
- When traveling with your parents, they tend to worry about everything. Many parents are overprotective no matter how old you are.
- Dealing with kids can be chaotic. You need lots of patience.
A Few Recommendations
- Be considerate of others. Ask them how they’re doing, if they need a break, or if they need to go to the restroom, or if they’re hungry/thirsty, etc.
- If traveling with kids or seniors, inquire about special accommodations. Are those places accessible to elders or people with disabilities?
- Always bring some water and snacks. Kids get hungry often. Also, your parents might need water to take their medications.
- Compromise. This is key when traveling with family. Sooner or later, you will have to do it. Be flexible.
- Try to find activities for the whole family. Remember it’s not all about you. Think of your kids/parents. Will they like to visit x place? Would you be better off if you went somewhere else? Does it require too much physical activity? Will they be able to handle it?
- Please, by all means, get some type of travel insurance. What would happen if one of your kids got sick? What would you do if your mother or father has an accident? What if someone in your family needs major surgery? Knocking on wood, but what if someone dies? It has happened before. You need to think ahead.
- Above all, cherish every single moment you spend together. Your kids and parents won’t always be with you, but you will always remember those moments and realize it was all worth it. Money comes and goes, but your family will always be there, maybe not physically, but in your mind and heart. The memories will never go away.
As you can see, travel with family is not always a walk in the park. There are many pros and cons to it, but I think that the pros outweigh the cons by far. You have to decide what’s more important to you.
There are many things to consider. No matter how hard we plan it, it won’t always go according to plan. We have to learn to be spontaneous and enjoy every single moment.
Travel with family can be chaotic, but it doesn’t have to be. We saw a few things you can do to minimize or avoid a disaster. It’s all part of the process.
It is one of the most enriching experiences in anyone’s life. Traveling by yourself is good, but traveling with family is priceless.
What about you? Do you travel with your family? Who do you travel with? What has it been like? Do you recommend it? Let me know in the comments below. Bon voyage!