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Adjusting Expectations When Travelling with Children

Adjusting Expectations When Travelling with Children

BC (Before Children obviously not Before Christ although it sometimes feels that long ago) I was lucky enough to travel widely.  Places like Namibia, Bali, Texas, California, Fiji, Cook Islands, Australia were all visited, loved and explored.

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Beaches were lay on, Bahamas vacation home booked, cocktails were drunk and books (lots and lots of them) were read. I was obsessed with holidays and this didn’t change when we got married. We honeymooned in Nepal trekking to Annapurna thinking it could be our last adventure for a while and I was right as I returned from honeymoon pregnant with our eldest. Our last holiday BC was to Barbados when I was 4 months pregnant and we lay on the beach, hubby drank cocktails, I read books and we wondered how life and travel might change? We resolved to travel far and wide with our Mini Traveller (singular) and not let having a family change our travel plans. Little did we know.

Annapurna to Gangapurna


Our first holiday with our eldest daughter was to the Cotswolds when she was 5 months old.  We hunted out beautiful accommodation, there was no chance we were going to Centre Parcs, we weren’t changing our holiday ideas (so we thought!)! We had already decided that we would go somewhere exotic in June, why wouldn’t we, other travelers could put up with our baby on the plane for a few hours!!.  So we went along in March full of excitement and with a case full of books as usual but I didn’t read a thing and the holiday wasn’t good. In fairness the place was lovely and you can read a review of it here, but the holiday itself wasn’t in line with my expectations. I was very very sick and that didn’t help at all, but the real problem was that it wasn’t a holiday.

With a tiny baby a stay away from home is just that. It’s the same shit/delight/joy depending on your feelings, just a different location. You still have to change the nappies, feed the baby, get up 3/4/5 times a night , you just do it in somewhere that’s not your house and often somewhere that is not set up as well. So you need to make sure you pick the right place to stay and you need to change your expectations. You will not and I repeat not, be having lazy mornings, be sipping cocktails on the beach whilst the baby sleeps soundly and you will not be reading lots of books. It will not be like any holiday you have ever had before.

Adjusting Expectations After Children
What you will be doing is making memories, very special precious memories, but you do need to accept that your holiday won’t be the same. Once you’ve adjusted you can actually start to enjoy your holiday and cherish it for the wonderful time it will be.

Adjusting Expectations After Children

To do this I have worked out that I have to acknowledge that the holiday is about the little ones. If they are happy, you will be happy. So think farm holidays, kiddy activities, child friendly swimming pool (I’m afraid this doesn’t usually equate to an infinity pool), kids club (depending on age) other children and and your attention.  They mainly want you and your time.  They do not understand sunbathing, cocktail drinking and book reading (unless it is reading The Gruffalo/other favourite book!) This was the hardest thing for me to accept, which I know doesn’t make me a particularly good person, but they really do just want your undivided attention.

Adjusting Expectations After Children

So turn away from the cocktails (until after 7pm anyway, I am of course not suggesting a sober holiday) put away those i-Phones, forget about those books, and book a child friendly holiday destination where you can lavish your attention on them. You will then have a wonderful time.

OR maybe take the grandparents!!!!

Adjusting Expectations After Children

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Adjusting Expectations When Travelling With Children

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Steven Smith

Monday 14th of October 2019

I concur * took us 5 years before we traveled to another country with child .. furthermore, since there we haven't thought back

Nirav Sampat

Monday 15th of April 2019

Hi Karen,

I hope you are doing well. I went through the different blogs and was impressed by the kind of work you have done. Especially Adjusting Expectations When Travelling with Children blog was neat. Great post and so true. After having children, the travel should be planned in such a manner that the kids can enjoy too. And what else a parent want if their kids are having a great time. As you rightly said, "I have to acknowledge that the holiday is about the little ones. If they are happy, you will be happy." Great piece of work.

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Saturday 8th of October 2016

Our holidays were never much about book reading and cocktail drinking, but seeing things and visiting interesting places. To tell the truth... even after we had our 2 girls (now 2 and almost 4) we're still seeing things and visiting interesting places. We only prepare much more now, look for good accommodation, travel slow and make sure our holiday has at least 2 or 3 of these elements for at least a few days to keep everybody happy: beach, swimming pool, trainride, ponyriding... there are so many countries to choose which have these elements making our kids happy kids. They also love visiting temples and churches and castles, so we try to add a few of these too. :) Been to India twice, to South Africa, Sri Lanka, the Baltic States, but also Portugal and Spain. Next summer we're off to Georgia.

Hayley chall

Saturday 3rd of September 2016

I'm with you here! The thought of Center Parcs made me cringe, yet here I am two years in a bit of a secret fan, purely for the fact I get to breathe a few minutes while the toddler is distracted!!


Tuesday 23rd of August 2016

Hi Yes, totally agree. What I've had to learn is to pace myself. Pre-baby I would work myself into the ground knowing I could recharge on holiday. Now I know holidays / Christmas are for family time & new experiences, not much opportunity to relax. I try to build in regular chill out times throughout my year (e.g an hour with a magazine & feet up in the garden). And, I tell myself it's not forever. Enjoy the farm, the park, the beach in the rain with your kids & take lots of photos. Some day soon you will be sitting with your cocktail & lots of great memories when the kids grow up!

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