Traveling with little kids is a very different ball of wax than traveling with older children. We do a lot of outdoor stuff, so hiking and exploring have always been a big part of how we travel. We’ve learned a lot about pace, making sure that the destinations that we visit, and the pace at which we visit them is accommodating to them. So if we go for a hike, the whole idea, or the rules I put in place, are that I’ll never hike farther than I can carry my kids back, because it’s happened and I’ve had disasters.
I was interviewed on a radio station in Canada because I had such a horrible, disastrous hike that was completely awful. The hike was incredible, the view amazing; I have some of the best photos I’ve ever taken from this hike, but I should never have taken this hike. It was a terrible idea. But basically, we went on a 10-kilometer hike, and it was great for five kilometers to the destination and then the last five kilometers back. We got there just in time to watch the sunset. Except we were supposed to have started the hike at about 10 o’clock in the morning. Instead, we started at about six o’clock in the afternoon. We weren’t supposed to be there at sunset, and so we weren’t prepared. We had no flashlights, we had nothing, and then we ended up having to hike back. Luckily there was a full moon that night, but my mom was with us, and she wasn’t in the best health, and we didn’t end up getting back to the car until one o’clock in the morning. My youngest son was three years old. As soon as we turned around to walk back, I put him up on my shoulders, and he fell asleep. Luckily my oldest son, who was five and a half at the time, managed to do the whole hike thankfully. I don’t think I could have carried them both because I almost had to carry my mom back, but pace, preparation and making sure that you understand the outcome of every situation before you get into it is always big.
But I think the real value of traveling with younger children is understanding their openness to other people and embracing that because children are often the best in-roads that you can have to meet people when you’re traveling. I have never had better conversations than I have traveling with young children because most people love them, and they want to meet them, and meeting the children allows you to meet them. Embrace that connection, embrace that, love that people have of young children because it will make for some of the best memories you’ll ever have.