KinderHop:: Transitioning from Couple to Family Travel

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KinderHop is published once monthly and written by Trip Styler’s Seattle-based kid ‘n family writer, Keryn.

One of the biggest fears my husband Mike and I had when we first discussed having children was how much it would alter our lives. Our careers were growing, we were able to put money away, and more importantly, we were traveling. Adding kids would change everything. We would surely be relegated to theme parks and playgrounds. I wasn’t sure I was ready for that.

Some of our first trips as a couple were overseas. We went to Italy. We stayed out late eating homemade pasta and house- cured prosciutto e melone while sampling the local vintage. In Rome, we woke up whenever we wanted to in our adorable (read: cramped) hotel just mere minutes from the Trevi Fountain. I could eat gelato for breakfast if I wanted to, as long as a shop was open. Mike and I would explore the side streets of a new city for hours; he with his head in a guidebook so he would know what ruins we were seeing and me with my camera glued to my face trying to capture every moment.

Enter the children.

My oldest son Dek is now 3 years old. His little brother Ty showed up earlier this year and is now 5 months old. Have our travels changed? Yes. Is this a bad thing? No, because the change crept up slowly. After all, no one handed us a running toddler nor did we have a primary school schedule to consider. We could still travel any time we wanted to, we just had to take a baby with us.

Our first big international trip with Dek was to China. He was 14 months old. People thought we were crazy, and maybe we were. The opportunity to travel presented itself and I wasn’t going to let it pass us by just because we had a child; we would just figure it out as we went.

Yes we had new foods and shifting time zones to contend with, but just like we were parents at home, we were now parenting in a new country while exploring some of the world’s most magnificent historical sights (i.e. Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City).

The pace of our travels was the most noticeable difference. We could not rush from sight to sight. We were actually forced to stop and see where we were going. Little legs slowed us down. Dek found the most mundane things interesting, like sidewalks, or at least we thought they were mundane at first, but then realized he had stumbled across something amazing. Without him we would have missed the intricate stonework on the pathways of the Forbidden City.

It was inevitable that the way we approached our favored trip styles would change, but it didn’t have to be as drastic as we thought. Theme parks with dancing characters have not crept into our lives. I have chosen to continue to see the world through four sets of eyes rather than two. You can as well.

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[photos by keryn]