We’ve always traveled with our kids.
Cate, who is 15 now, was born in a hospital four hours away from our home, so her first nights out of the hospital were spent in a hotel while we waited for interstate adoption clearance. We flew across the world to New Zealand when she was 2!
Both Cate and Ben, who is 13, transitioned from cribs to beds so they could be prepared for an upcoming trip. When Rachel came along, she was along for the ride to all the things, thanks to the six- and eight-year gaps with her siblings.
They all had passports before they could read and now our two teenagers have their own Known Traveler Numbers. Getting through security quicker and without unpacking as much is definitely one way to make traveling smoother! Our international vacations have mostly been via cruise ships or to Canada. Of course, we don’t always need the TSA Pre-Check line because we certainly don’t always fly. We take lots of smaller trips for a few days to visit family, celebrate holidays, watch basketball, and see places closer to home.
For years, they’ve each packed their own travel bags with electronics, books, and whatever else they want to do along the way. Usually, I give them the number and kinds of outfits they need and they bring their clothes to me so we can consolidate suitcases and bags. Nobody wants to play Tetris or maneuver through the airport with more suitcases and bags than actual people. If we go on road trips where we’ll be in and out of different hotels and accommodations, I like to bag smaller bags to use for dirty clothes or however make sense to pack so we aren’t hauling in and out all the things at every stop.
With a family, we typically try to stay in vacation rentals because the price is usually comparable to a hotel and the space makes everyone happier. If we do need a hotel, I usually try to find a suite so at least we can spread out a little.
I want them to appreciate travel. I want them to see places that are unlike their home. I want them to experience adventures. I want them to have friends in other places. We’ve even taken our oldest two on mission trips to Guatemala. Traveling and serving can certainly go together.
I know traveling is a privilege, but I will always tell you: Take the trip.
I say this after interruptions and cancellations have messed with us recently. We had to cancel a Disney Cruise to Alaska in July 2022 the day before we left to fly to Vancouver because one kid tested positive for COVID-19 before the cruise lines lifted testing restrictions. Our two-hour flights from Nashville to Miami and back were canceled right after Christmas 2022 when Southwest had its infamous meltdown. But we got refunded, reimbursed, and rewarded, and, yes, I booked Southwest again for an upcoming Spring Break trip.
Sometimes traveling means early mornings or late nights or canceled flights. It means snack crumbs in the minivan and public bathrooms. Sometimes it means wrong turns, heavy traffic, and more miles than you were expecting to put on a vehicle.
But, more importantly, traveling makes me appreciate home and let go of the stress that comes with ordinary routines and responsibilities. Traveling opens my eyes to new places and experiences, gives me a fresh perspective, and lets me have different food I didn’t have to cook. I also love documenting our travels with photos – many of which have ended up on the walls of our home.
Another way we make traveling rewarding is by using our Capital One Venture credit card. There are travel discounts and rewards. We get a higher percentage back in rewards when we make travel-related reservations, can cash rewards in to cover travel purchases, got reimbursed for our TSA Pre-Check application when we used this card as payment, and can book hotels and rental cars with discounted rates directly through the credit card website. Win-win, I tell you. (Learn more here!)
Thankfully, Greg and I are in sync with traveling philosophies and styles. Also, props to my husband for almost always driving all the miles between wherever we’re going and home.
With our two teenagers and their younger sister, we are reaping the benefits of having traveled with our babies. Now we have big kids who appreciate a weekend getaway or major vacation. They have developed their own preferences and it’s fun to see them settle into their own as travelers. Ben and Cate would tell you our Spring Break trip in 2022 to Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, and Sedona, Arizona is their favorite. Rachel asks to go back to Disney, but I’m not so sure that’s going to happen!
So, I tell you, take the trip. It may not be easy or convenient, but it’s always worth it. And always take lots of snacks along for the ride!
Here are some of our trips!