404 Travel Philosophy

My family travel reality

I’ve been a mother for a little over 3.5 years. That means I’ve been a mother who travels with her kids a little over 3.3 years.

Becoming a mom was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I was in my mid-30s and very used to my previous carefree life. After the shortest longest 9 months (more accurately 41 weeks and 1 day) of my life, there was a whole being whose soul existence strongly depended on me being responsible. Remembering to feed him, bathe him, protect him. On top of that I had post-pregnancy complications that made me move a little slower, with more pain than I remember having before.

It was a mental and physical challenge. And it seemed to never let up.

It took me a full year to feel good in my new normal. To get out of the haze.

When I had my daughter less than 2 years later, the cycle started again. Except now I was used to the sleepless days and nights. I just had to get used to protecting the kids from each other. My post-pregnancy complications this time made sleep more difficult and driving over cobblestone roads next to impossible. Again, it took me a full year to feel good in my new normal.

My truth of traveling with babies

Within both of those separate years of having new babies, we traveled. We traveled because we had to. We traveled because we wanted to. We traveled to see family across the pond. We traveled because we knew we weren’t going to live in Europe forever.

As with everything when a baby comes along, we had to change our style. We packed more, planned more, somehow slept even less, and concerned ourselves more with where we were when it was time for the kids to eat.

It was hard, but it wasn’t impossible.

Looking back I realized something about that time in our lives. New mommy-hood was easiest for me when we were traveling. It felt more right than anything else. I felt more alive because I wasn’t sitting at home waiting for life to happen. We didn’t eat at fancy restaurants, or sit at cafes and bars chatting it up with the locals, or do many things in our new travels that we resembled our old travels. But, we were traveling. We were doing what we love most, even through the pain and challenges.

And I think that’s what makes me different

At least different from the people who treat traveling with kids as a chore. For me, I can’t imagine going out and exploring this world without my kids. And I don’t know how people can just stay home. It would stifle me, it would bore me, and it would make me resentful.

These days

If I had any anxiety about how my travels would  be once I had kids, it’s gone now.

I have two toddlers who love to travel. They both love all forms of transportation, constantly wonder when our next trip to a hotel will be, and can typically sit pretty content in a car, a train, and a plane. And that’s even without an iPad or any electronic distractions.

They have their own travel preferences. My son loves fancy hotels and fast trains, my daughter loves walks and animals. They enjoy talking about going on vacation and looking at pictures afterwards.

It’s fun. It’s exhausting. It’s more than I thought it could be.

Photo by Kyle Taylor, Dream It. Do It. Kingrunandfr 302

Touristy Attractions


Iconic sites and touristy attractions are the Three O’s: Overrated, Overseen, and Overwritten about

I have no problem visiting overrated, overseen, and overwritten about sites – or as I’ll refer to them, the “three Os”. Just because 95% of the people who go to Rome visit the Colosseum doesn’t mean that I have seen it for myself. And when I want to see something for myself, I want to see it for myself. 

Touristy attractions are a good thing for kids. Don’t let travel cynics stop you from giving kids something relatable. The iconic images that they’ll see in their textbooks and in movies are part of the fabric of travel that will connect their memories with what they’re learning. It will get them to continue to be interested in seeing the world. And that’s ok.

Ways to make a visit to the Three O’s a pleasant one for your family

That said, I do think there are some positive and negative ways to handle visiting the three Os. So, here are some things for your consideration.

  • Research it in advance
    • Learn the story
      • What’s the history leading up to the creation of this iconic site?
      • Why is it still so popular today?
      • What are some tidbits that may be interesting to your kids?
    • Consider the responsible tourism angle
      • One of the problems with overrated sites is that they’re crowded. In the short-term, this is bad because no one wants to spend a lot of time in line visiting a place that’s over crowded. In the long-term, it can have negative effects on the resources in the community. Find out when high season is – and do your best to avoid it.
      • Make a plan to visit the site in a responsible way when considering any hotels, tours, and even souvenirs you may purchase.
    • Figure out the logistics
      • How can you maximize your visit? Is it better to buy tickets online to avoid the long wait, or do you have to book a tour to get decent access?
      • What’s the best way to approach the site? The first time I visited the Eiffel Tower, we drove right up. It wasn’t quite the “moment” I was looking for. The next time, we took the metro at night and I turned a corner and all of a sudden – wow! I mean, I’d already seen the thing before, so you could imagine my surprise to actually be wowed by it.
      • Know your kids. If you’re visiting a field in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of old stones jutting out of the earth and touching those stones is illegal – are your kids old enough to understand this or will they be tempted to touch? Find an alternative place to see.
      • Think about the length of your visit. Know that you may have to cut it short if the kids get antsy.
      • Make sure everyone has eaten before you go.
      • When’s the best time of the day to visit to avoid the crowds?
      • Do they offer guides (people or audio) that are aimed towards kids?
      • What else is there to do in the area that would be interesting for the family?
  • Share the information with your family
    • Talk about the history of the site leading up to the trip. Look for those popular images in movies and books.
    • Talk about the history the day of your trip as you head to the place. Remind them of what life was like back when this was made and why it is still popular today.
    • Encourage them to look out for something that they’ll only see there.
    • Remind them of the things they should do to be responsible travelers, especially in these places that get so many visitors.
    • When you leave, give them some time to reflect on what they saw.
  • Don’t do too many of the Three Os in one day. The key to enjoying the uniqueness of some of these destinations is to balance it with something completely different.

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Thee Getaway Gal is talking travel in her A-to-Z Challenge. In fact, within this challenge she’s issued a fun Instagram Challenge to encourage everyone to travel locally. I love it (and I’ll be launching a separate site soon focused just on the local-to-me travel opportunities, so this is close to my heart. Please visit her site and join the challenge.english to malay translation googleoutdoor car cover nzusb hub

Kids love to travel

***I’m out of town and have limited access to my computer, but I wanted to make sure I still had some posts in the A-Z challenge. I’m keeping these simple until I come back. I’m going to expand on these later, but I’d love your thoughts and opinions in the meantime. Thanks for stopping by, and if you’re also participating in the challenge let me know and I’ll be around to check our your blog in less than a week.***


When planning your next big, or small, getaway, remember this – kids love to travel.

It’s their natural instinct to be curious about the world around them. Help foster that curiosity.

Yes, there will be times they are bored – that’s ok.

The benefits of traveling with your kids, learning about new cultures and spending time as a family make the enclosed space of flying with strangers, packing and unpacking, and dealing with food preferences worth it.

(Side note: I’ve had the Travel Turtle site since 2007. I took a break from it, moved to Germany, and had kids. In April 2013, on a trip to Prague, I decided to start writing about family travel. My first plan was to start a new site and call it Kids Love to Travel, but I decided to just restructure Travel Turtle.)

My friend, the first person I told about my relaunching of Travel Turtle, and fellow family travel blogger Andrea has also joined the A-to-Z Challenge. I know for sure her two little ones love to travel. Please visit her today at Passports and Pushchairs.macbook air case stickersonline spell check englishMemory Stick

Raising Responsible Travelers

Intelligent Travel’s Leslie Trew Magrew recently interviewed author Elizabeth Becker. Becker’s Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism examines our impact as travelers. In the interview, she sites France as a model of sustainable tourism, embracing the culture that people go to France to see. Cambodia exemplifies the worst case scenario, exploiting the sites and people to make more money. Governments and tourist offices are burdened with finding ways to balance the influx of tourists with the local resources. However, it is not just their burden. Responsible travel is our burden. As parents, sharing our love of travel with our families, what can we do to make sure that the places we visit now will still be an authentic experience for our children’s children?


Sacre Coeur, Paris.

Responsible Travel: Proper Preparation

Using a Staycation to Better Understand a Vacation

One way Becker suggests approaching the issue of responsible tourism was taking a staycation.

My advice is to first be a tourist where you live. Explore the museums, the farms, the churches, the night life, the historic monuments–and then read up on local politics and history. If you’re interested in volunteering overseas, first volunteer at home. Then when you’re planning your next trip abroad, use that experience as a template and study up on the destination you’re about to visit.

I admit, other than a lower carbon footprint, I didn’t quite understand how this would help. Then I read a little more about responsible travel in Cambodia and the idea of visiting orphanages was brought up. In bold letters the site asked

THINK TWICE BEFORE VISITING AN ORPHANAGE …Would you go to visit an orphanage in your home country? Would somewhere that puts the best interests of the children first allow random visits from strangers?

This helped me put it in perspective. The way we would approach travel where we live, that’s how we should approach travel somewhere else. How do locals like to be treated? What types of things are off the tourist radar, but worth the visit? How do we connect to the community?

With children, seeing what their own community offers helps them make a connection outside of their community. An added benefit to staycations? Learning more about our family’s travel style.


Becker mentions the Baedeker Travel Guides from the late 1800s and early 1900s. These “were written in consultation with historians and archaeologists who presumed the tourists wanted to immerse themselves in a country.” As opposed to many of today’s guides, the Baedeker Guides focused more on the history, culture, politics and even language of a country and only a small space for hotels and restaurants.

Keep this in mind when preparing for a trip. Make sure the amount of time searching for the perfect hotel is matched with taking the time to gain a greater understanding of the country itself. Include children in this preparation. Whip up relevant meals, read stories set in the location, look up phrases and photos online, and do a search on youtube for videos. This knowledge gives everyone, kids included, a better appreciation for the country and compassion for its people.

Responsible Travel: The Local Impact

It’s important to understand just how travel impacts the local community. Becker’s Cambodia example shows that their shortsightedness is actually destroying the very reason people started traveling there in the first place, “In Angkor, a thicket of new hotels has outpaced infrastructure and is draining the water table so badly the temples are sinking.”  And that’s just the beginning. The greed exhibited there has made Cambodia popular for sex tourism and even profiting from tours to the killing fields.

This is an extreme, but unfortunately, small example of the effects of tourism. An influx of tourists will have both a positive and negative impact to the local community, in every community. Responsible travelers, educating future travelers, must find an appropriate way to travel  with minimal negative impact.

The Ethical Traveler suggests to

Be aware of where your money is going, and patronize locally owned inns, restaurants, and shops. Try to keep your cash within the local economy, so the people you are visiting can benefit directly from your visit.

Fortunately, according to a list by Conde Nast’s Wendy Perrin of what kids say they really want, this should coincide nicely. They want a place that is completely different from home, preferring the experience of a local market where they can the varieties of food then going on a picnic at a park later, and purchasing souvenirs directly from the maker.

This topic is far larger than these simple points I mention above. Acknowledging our impact is the first step. By educating ourselves we can find the balance to make more right choices for our families and the places we visit.

This is definitely a subject I will return to again. In the meantime, I would love to hear your thoughts on responsible tourism and any challenges you might face as a traveling family.

If you are interested in other articles about this topic, please visit the following sites:

International Center for Responsible Tourism

The Sustainable Tourism Gateway

I-to-I Volunteering

This post is part of Friday Daydreaming at R We There Yet Mom?sexe vibrognail

Baby Led Traveling

Our travel philosophy is simple.

Baby Led Travel

We go anywhere, any time.

We like a good deal. We’re more inclined to travel somewhere during their low season. But, we will also go during high season (and shoulder season).

We love to jam pack as many cities into a short itinerary, or stay one place for a longer period of time.

We never go into a place ever thinking that it’s a one time thing. We always know we will return. There are a few places we’ve returned to time and again, and some places that we just haven’t made it back to yet, and even more places we still have to visit for the first time.

We like tourist attractions, popular family destinations, off the beaten path, the beaten path, and everything in between.

We travel near home and far from home.We currently (and temporarily) live in Germany. We tend to take advantage of our location by traveling throughout Europe now, but we go to other places as needed.

All that to say, we’re pretty open to things.

Now that we have kids, the only things we try to make double and triple sure of is their safety and comfort.

We encourage them to try new things. We foster that by remaining open to their interests. (Admittedly, our 7 month old hasn’t really formed an opinion on interests outside of napping and eating.)

We try our best to avoid things that we know will cause tantrums (less shopping and laid-back dining, more parks and playgrounds).

This is, to me, baby led travel. We adjust days as needed, with no real worries of checking everything (or even anything) from our “to do” list. And it seems to work for us. How do you make travel with your kids work for you?

Baby Led Travel

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