This past December I took my two preschool age kids on a trip from Texas to Vienna, Austria. The first leg of the flight (Houston to Istambul) was their first ever experience on an airplane. Then we had one more jump to Vienna and a full 9 days of fun before we did it all again.
Yes, it was a little bit crazy. Throwing kids on an eleven hour flight and hoping all goes well is not necessarily the perfect starting point for traveling families, but it was worth it.
Traveling with kids isn’t nearly as easy as traveling solo, but it’s worth it.
If you are on the fence about traveling with your young kids, I encourage you to go for it!
Kids are flexible – If you are calm about travel, your kids likely will be chill about it as well. We weren’t stressed in transit, we just waited in line, played silly waiting games and got on the plane. I kept it as low key as possible so the kids didn’t worry, and it worked! They did a great job in all the airports and stayed right by me.
Seeing history – When you travel with preschoolers they are able to touch history and learn so much more about the world than they ever could from a book or show. Hearing about distant Kings and Queens and the way they lived is one thing, actually getting to tour palace gardens with your kids and walk through the oldest zoo in the world? There’s nothing quite like that!
This is the palace where Marie Antoinette grew up. We were able to visit the zoo that is located in the palace gardens and used to be private only for the royal family. It’s open to the public now, and the kids got to see new animals that they’d never seen before, like polar bears!
Exploring cultures – There is nothing like letting your kids interact with other cultures in the world. I loved watching them learn about the different ways people do things in other countries, and why. Seeing other cultures adds so much to any traveler’s life. It makes you seem small, in the most beautiful way. I also love that it teaches my kids that different is just…different, and it certainly doesn’t mean bad! It’s really hard to keep any subliminal prejudices when you travel and meet people from all different cultures and walks of life, and it’s something that I love to do with my kids!
It’s family time – Travel can really bring you together as a family. I don’t know if it’s the unique shared experiences or just spending so much time exploring together, but I always feel closer to my kids after I’ve spent time traveling with them.
You find the coolest places – I try not to get too caught up in hitting every “must see” tourist spot. There are so many neat things to see if you just go at the kid’s pace and see what they want to do. Sure, there are some touristy things every one will want to hit, but there are also some amazing things you can find just exploring with the kids (it helps if you are friend with people who live there, but exploring on your own can be fun too!).
We ended up riding the oldest running ferris wheel in the world because it looked like fun on the way home from something else. It was an amazing and memorable experience for everyone… and let’s not forget the parks.
The parks – If you ever take your kids to Europe go find a local park and let them run free. We played at four or five different parks and each was unique and the kids had a great time. In fact, it’s one of the biggest things they ask to go do again!
Not too young – A lot of people say not to waste a trip on such a young child and to wait until they are older. While I’ve never traveled with an older kiddo, I found that traveling with preschoolers was really fun. They already see the world differently than me, so it was neat to watch their views change and grow, and even to see how they were excited and in awe of even the simplest things in a new place. It was such an amazing experience!
If you are considering taking your kids on a trip, let me encourage you to take the plunge. There’s nothing quite like sharing the exploration with your little ones, it’s something neither of you will ever forget!