My husband and I couldn’t wait for our kids to get a little older so we could all start traveling the world together. I really feel like we learn so much through travel. I am not talking about a going to a resort and sitting there kind of vacation, and don’t get me wrong, I LOVE those kind of vacations too! But, I am talking about the kind of trip where you have the opportunity explore, meet, and learn about other cultures and experience things we normally do not get to experience.
We have now taken a few trips together as a family, and what I have learned is to expect the best, but be prepared for anything. When I plan a trip with the kids, I always try to balance some adventure and exploring with a good amount of leisurely down time, because who likes coming back from a trip feeling more exhausted than before they left? I have also found that it’s good to have breaks in our schedule, because you never know if someone will get sick, hurt, or just have an epic meltdown. In the past when I traveled alone, I had a tendency to try to do and see as much as I could, but as I learned on our latest trip to Costa Rica, you sometimes have to compromise.
I knew there would be a lot of driving in Costa Rica. We were staying in three different locations with about a three to five hour drive in between each of them. Since a day of traveling can take its toll on kids, (and sometimes adults too) I made sure not to squeeze anything else in on the days we were traveling, and I am so glad I didn’t. Our 3-5 hour drives quickly turned into 4-7 hour drives because both kids (and mom too) ended up getting car sick. We had to have the driver pull over numerous times each leg of the trip to let the kids get sick on the side of the road. Yuck! I do need to preface this by saying that this was the first time my kids ever threw up from being car sick, so it was really unexpected. Thank goodness my husband was prepared by making a makeshift bucket with his hat and a plastic bag. That saved us from having to power through our drives in a foul smelling van.
In addition to our car sickness debacle, my son started complaining of an earache and sore throat on the very first day of the trip. By the second day it had gotten so bad I had to take him to the clinic. We were lucky that we were staying at The Springs Resort and Spa, which is a great family hotel. They understood our situation and were accommodating about rescheduling our excursions without penalty. Since I spoke minimal Spanish, they also called us a cab and set us up an appointment at a nearby clinic in town. My poor baby ended up with a double ear infection, but with the strong antibiotics the doctor prescribed he was up and feeling much better by the next morning. We made sure to lay low and relax the rest of the evening.
This was the first time we ever had to see a doctor on vacation, so you could imagine our surprise when we had to see another one at the very end of our trip! This time for both kids, one with a sore throat, and the other with ear problems again. Luckily this doctor made house calls, and again, got them both feeling better in no time.
I always hope for the best out of our trips, but I have learned to make sure I plan for those occasional hiccups along the way. Seriously, who has to go to the doctor twice on one trip?! I have found that when traveling with smaller kids, everything takes a lot more time and ends up being a bit more complicated. Geez, even potty breaks take longer and can definitely have its complications! I will be honest, there was a lot more I wanted to see and do while in Costa Rica, but as a family, we just weren’t there yet. I mean yes, I could have booked up every hour of the day with something, but in the end we would have missed half of it, and we would have all been pretty crabby by the end of the trip.
I am learning that traveling with kids (or at least my kids) is all about balance. Yes, we will do all the exploring, learning, and adventuring, but I won’t forget to fit in the down time. And sometimes the downtimes are some of the best times. It’s when we can all relax as a family and talk about the fabulous time we just had on our wonderful adventure. Below is a list of items I now take with us on each trip. I keep them in my “Just in Case” bag. They are items I like to have around “just in case” something goes wrong. Happy Travels!
- Ibuprofen or Tylenol
- Ziplock Baggies
- Plastic Bag ( learned this after Costa Rica)
- Google Translate (an app on your phone that can come in handy if you are in another country)