They say necessity is the mother of invention. Read how a mom's desire to travel with kids led to forming her own touring company.
As I sat in the hotel bathroom (eating carry-out with my husband) in yet another exotic locale while waiting for the kids to fall asleep, I thought, “There has got to be a better way to travel with kids!”
Pre-kids, we loved to travel the world and prided ourselves on our ability to pack lightly and zip through customs with just a carry-on. We swore we wouldn’t slow down when we became parents and we wanted our children to grow up with a global outlook on life.
We’d just pack the kids up and bring them along. Kids are light, right?
Our first overseas trip to visit my in-laws in the Netherlands was when our first child was 6 weeks old. What an eye-opener. Sure our bundle of love was small (well, as small as a baby born at nearly 11 pounds can be), but the gear we were sure was required was not: diapers, wipes, burp cloths, breast pump, bottles, 10 outfits just for the first day to get through all the spit-up messes and exploding diapers, stroller, Baby Bjorn carrier, car seat and on and on.
Since that first trip, we’ve gotten smarter about packing and streamlined our list of what is required. We now realize that diapers can be purchased nearly everywhere in the world and we only really need to bring enough for the flight and first few days.
However, we did discover that in Central America the toddlers tend to be smaller than our giant kids so the largest size diaper available was too small for our just-turned-3-year-old, but-still-having-a-few-accidents-at-night oldest.
We now ditch the stroller for trips to developing counties where the smooth paved surfaces are few and far between.
We’ve stopped bringing toys in our new knowledge that an empty water bottle, banana or anything new will be preferred to anything from home.
We didn’t stop traveling and it did get easier, but we were still left with being stuck in hotel rooms in the dark at 7pm and being somewhat limited in the types of activities we could do. Whitewater rafting with a 12-month-old, anyone? I decided to take action.
I formed a tour company, Global Family Adventures (218/390-8975) that specializes in small group international tours for families with kids ages 1-7. The tours move at a slower, child-friendly pace and include fun family activities as well as some opportunities for parents to take some time for themselves for a dinner date out, a long rainforest hike, a bike ride or whatever they want.
While the parents are out and about, the kids enjoy playtime with their new friends, have healthy snacks, take naps and learn a bit about their host country. Lodging is set up in a way such that parents can tuck their kids in and then hang out in a common area within sight of where the kids are sleeping. No more hiding in the bathroom so the kids will go to sleep!
Currently, Global Family Adventures is offering a Costa Rica Eco-Tour and an Ely, Minnesota snowsports adventure.
Jenny Jensen and her family are based in Duluth, Minnesota
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.