Friday, January 7, 2011

Traveling with Children

I see you. I see you cringing as I board the plane with...children.

Baby Bird on his first International plane ride

Should you travel with children?

The Scientist and I had been planning on living abroad for some time. When son #1 made an appearance, we briefly thought that having a child and trying to live abroad was a mistake.

Thankfully, that thought only lasted a second.

Baby Bird on his arrival in Berlin - what a trooper!

Since that time (2 1/2 years now!) we have traveled to many places in the US, Italy, the Czech Republic, the UK, Germany, Belgium and France. Although none of these vacations were spent like our travels before, such as spending time leisurely drinking wine till the wee hours of the morning eleven o'clock, we relish this time as a family.

The Scientist and Baby Bird at the Eiffel Tower

Which is why I was dismayed to read a post entitled "Traveling with Terrible Children." (originally found on Have Baby Will Travel Blog). Corinne covers a lot of what I already wanted to say but I wanted to add some other thoughts.
Runied Monastary in Belgium

In his article, Matt said:


If you’re traveling with kids like it or not, you are going to be held to a different standard. People will look at you and judge your parenting skills based on only a few moments of interactions. That’s why, as the brand ambassador for parents everywhere, you not only have to parent, you have to do it well.

Traveling with children is hard enough without the added stress of knowing you are responsible for every other parent and child on Earth!

I would ask those of you who heave great heavy sighs when children board the plane to rethink your attitude. Don't we want children to be exposed to new and unique situations? Don't we want more people around who have been out of their comfort zone? Don't we want to raise children who are well-rounded and not afraid of others who are different?

Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all people cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends. -Maya Angelo


Baby Bird Munich 2009

And what better time to start this when they are young and the world is their oyster?

Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand. – Chinese Saying
The Scientist and Baby Bird in Sardinia

So to anyone out there who has had their sleep interrupted for a couple of hours by a baby crying on an airplane...Take note... that the future leaders of this world all had to start somewhere.
Stonehenge England 2009

With the arrival of #2, we have already been on 2 trips. We can't wait to do more...

baby Igel, Baby Bird and I in Hamburg October 2010

My point is that travel with kids is tough, and, sure, it may bug the childless among us. But travel enriches all who partake, and only more so for children who are lucky enough to experience the wonderful world around us.

11 comments:

Marisa said...

Hello,
Children are definitely not the problem. It's wild, rebellious, uncontrolled children that nobody likes. That important distinction wasn't made clear in your writing.

Generally, the obedience of a child is directly related to how well he was trained, or is being trained, by his parents; and therefore is something that the parents control. Parents who don't do their jobs right are obviously not appreciated by the public. Of course children do sometimes have their meltdowns.

Marisa

Maria said...

I've made an effort to not be the heavy-sighed, eye-rolling childless adult on flights. After all, I've been flying since I was an infant, so I'm sure I was once viewed as the annoying kid myself. I especially feel for the kids who have trouble with their ears during landing. I had this problem as a little one and I remember the excruciating pain and the hysterical crying. I think we all agree that families with young children have as much right to fly as anyone. It's just that a few uncontrolled kids kinda ruin it for the rest. And you gotta figure that they're not just going bezerk on the plane, but in the middle of a grocery store, a park, the living room floor, etc...

Yelli said...

In response to your comments, I respectfully disagree.

I take issue with the snap judgement on travelers with misbehaving children. I KNOW I have been "that mom" on occasion whether it was because I was tired, flustered, or perhaps even misjudged.

And travel nowadays-subjected to hours standing in line, families told they can't sit next to each other on planes (even international flights!), no food or drinks offered, do I even need to talk about the unwarranted delays for hours, sometimes just sitting on the tarmac?...I could go on but I assume you get the point.

I am not saying there are not "bad" parents out there but I find it impossible to judge parenting skills in such a short time with how the travel industry defines "travel" nowadays. Even when I was single traveling alone, I was horribly flustered.

For gosh sakes, I don't even get a discount on children anymore! I paid full price for my 4YO & even had to pay for my lap child on an International flight-something like 10% of the going flight price. I am willing to pay it but something which used to be discounted or free is hard to swallow nowadays especially with the airlines posting profits. Sigh. Now I am REALLY rambling.

Blopper said...

I think most people judge the parents by how hard they are trying to work with the kid if the kid is acting up.

Another idea is just always have your boy wear his lederhosen while he travels and he will melt the hearts of all he encounters.

Jentry M. said...

I agree 100% with you Yelli...since Amelia was born (she's now 16 months), we have been to the US 3 times. I always got "those" looks when getting on the plane. I felt like I always had to say something like, "Oh, no worries, she travels well." But, why should I be making excuses for MY child on a plane in which I PAID money for her to be on? I am an American living in Germany and I'll be damned if I don't get back to the US at least once a year...or at least, my mother would damn me. ;) I think that people really just need to take a chill pill on a flight. You are flying in a tin can with hundreds of other passengers. Don't stress out the most likely already stressed out parent on the flight with your horrid looks (this of course not being said to you, but the giver of said look). Those people know the "risks" of flying, and well, infants and children are a part of those "risks". :)

ReluctantYankee said...

No Way! Your last pic looked familiar...then I realized, my boys and I rode possibly the same Canal Ferry in Hamburg last October 2010 as well! My kids are a tad older (11 yrs. and 9 yrs.)...regardless, I still had to travel by myself with them abroad, just the same. It wasn't as bad as I had expected...but one thing is for sure, ECONOMY SEATS will never happen again while traveling with kids. The flight from LAX to Frankfurt was a long one..too long to be so squished! Loved this post...

honeypiehorse said...

Certainly the travel industry seems determined to make it harder. As a parent I try to take low-stress vacations with kids but there are times when you just have to suck it up and the heck with everyone else. Besides, my kids will be paying for all those childless people's social benefits when they retire.

Irish Berliner said...

Nipper will take courage from reading this post. Thank you!

thelivelylittletraveler said...

What a great post, it is unfortunate that very few childless people will ever read it. Exposing our children to the world is one of the most amazing gifts we can give them, and one of the best ways to create young people that understand and care about the people and cultures of the world. One of my biggest frustrations is that there are so many barriers to make travel family friendly. I have friends who have given up on travel because of the negative experiences they have had with travel personal and fellow travelers...... I have also found that many of the foreign air carriers treat children and families much better then the US carriers do :) Thanks for the great post!

thelivelylittletraveler said...

What a great post, it is unfortunate that very few childless people will ever read it. Exposing our children to the world is one of the most amazing gifts we can give them, and one of the best ways to create young people that understand and care about the people and cultures of the world. One of my biggest frustrations is that there are so many barriers to make travel family friendly. I have friends who have given up on travel because of the negative experiences they have had with travel personal and fellow travelers...... I have also found that many of the foreign air carriers treat children and families much better then the US carriers do :) Thanks for the great post!

cliff1976 said...

Ahem. Why do think childless people need to read this, thelivelylittletraveler?

Did mean to imply that Yelli's avoiding eye rolling from only them (uh...us)?

'Cause that makes it sound like Yelli's just got to get childless eyeballs on this page, and then all traveling children everywhere would immediately be rendered tolerable.

Disclaimer: I don't condone rude travelers be they parents, progeny, or neither. I try not to be one, either.