Adventures in Travel with Our Little Humans in Tow
Have you ever wanted to just quit your day to day grind and travel? We did! We traveled with kids, for a year.
My husband and I had talked about this for years and just decided to make it happen! We planned, saved, planned some more, saved some more, and finally we did it! We took the leap and traveled with our four boys (ages 2,5,7, and 10) in tow. We learned more in this one year of travel with our kids than we ever imagined!
Why travel with the kids?
For us it was simple, travel has always been in our hearts. To see this amazing world is our bucket list. We didn’t want to wait until we had more money, until we were empty nesters, or until a million other reasons one could come up with to not just do it! We wanted to show our children how to learn and grow by discovering what this world has to offer,and to travel as a family.
Plan and Plan Some More: Travel with Kids Needs ALL the Planning
First off we didn’t just pack a bag one day and drive until we were on “E”. We talked about this for 4 years! The real planning was in the question, “Just how could we afford to do this?” This is the scary part if you ask me! We made a budget, reduced our expenses, bought income property, rented out our home…I told you we did some planning! While traveling, we scoped out all the flight and hotel deals and took advantage of them. Flying off season and mid week saved us like you wouldn’t believe.
When you want to travel the world, where do you go first?
We bought a one way ticket, packed as light was we could, and off we went! I was starting homeschooling with my two oldest children, and what better way to learn than from all the new things around us than to experience it? We daily watched two active volcanoes. We toured a coffee farm and learned about coffee from the seed planting to the end product of a tasting a cup of coffee. The beautiful Maya culture was right at our finger tips. Not to mention, money conversion, language, and new foods to try. My 10 year old even learned to surf in the Pacific Ocean! We discovered getting around by tuktuk, which is a motorbike with a cart built onto it to taxi people. It was so cute, I wanted to bring it home!
We bought another one way ticket to Mexico City to visit some of my husband’s family. Here my children learned about their own heritage, took a boat ride in the last of the ancient Aztec built water transport system in the canals of Xochimilco, and watched a reenactment of an Aztec pole dance. Lucky for us one-way tickets were fun because the next ticket was to a little Mexican island called Holbox, a few short hours from Cancun. This quaint, laid back island, where the sand is white, and the water is crystal clear is where we took a vacation from our vacation. My husband learned to wind surf while the kids and I made a bowling game out of coconuts. We walked mostly everywhere but also traveled like the rest of the locals, by golf cart.
Wild West Trip
We then came back to the US for a bit to decide on our next adventure. Flexing our decision from the Caribbean, where it was hurricane season, we opted for a road trip out west. This is something I always wanted to do, bucket list check off again! We packed up our minivan and drove thousands of miles through 12 states! Our travels with our children took us on one large loop from Iowa to Seattle, down to coast to L.A., then began the journey back to the midwest.
South Dakota and Wyoming
We learned so many things about our beautiful country! We called it our wild west trip. As we drove through the golden plains and majestic mountains, we talked about the struggles for settlers to travel with no roads and how Native Americans lived off the land. We saw the buffaloes roaming and Old Faithful herself at Yellowstone. We cheered at our first rodeo and panned for treasures in a little mining town. We questioned why it was those four particular men’s faces carved into rock at Mt. Rushmore. We learned it was really cold camping on Mt. Rainer but breathing the mountain air felt so refreshing!
Washington, Oregon, California
We witnessed fish throwing at Pike’s Place Fish Market in Seattle and from there headed down the coast. We visited shipwrecks, picked sea glass on the shore of the Pacific, and wondered through the Goonies museum. We drove right through a huge redwood tree in the Giant Forest and camped in the Muir Woods. My two year old ate with chopsticks like a champ in San Francisco as we listened to the weird noises of the sea lions on Fisherman’s Warf, all while contemplating if we could escape Alcatraz. I can’t even begin to describe all the wonderment of travel with kids.
Arizona, Utah, Colorado
When we hit the skyscrapers of L.A., we headed east to explore just how grand the Grand Canyon truly is to see in person rather than a book. We hiked to a vortex in Sedona, tasted Navajo mutton and fry bread in Utah, and discovered the beautiful rock arches at Arches National Park. My 7 year old did a tambourine jam out with a band on the same day of the lunar eclipse in Frisco, Colorado.
Upper Peninsula and More Visits to Family
We drove right past the Quad Cities and headed up through Wisconsin, into the upper peninsula of Michigan, and down into the lower half to visit my parents on their mini farm. The kids love the chickens, horses, four-wheeling and grandma’s cookies, of course.
It was the perfect timing to let the family know that our last travel stop for the year would be the small island of Hawaii, Kauai! Our year of travel with kids was nearing a close, but we had an extra surprise to share from our journey. We were expecting a new traveler to our tribe, baby boy #5, the perfect souvenir!
Even though the flight to Hawaii is quite long, traveling with the kids for so long by this point paid off as they seemed to be seasoned. Kauai is a truly a beautiful island with a culture all of its own. Visiting the beach every day, we learned face to face about ocean life, waterfalls, rainbows, and why the roosters roam freely there.
In the end, an entire year of traveling with our children was truly a once in a life time adventure. We created priceless memories for our family. What we learned from the people, and of history, science, art, different cultures, and about ourselves changed us. Travel is such a gift for your soul. Why not give that gift of seeing the world to your children?
Where would you go if you traveled with your kids for one year?
Editors Note: Think it’s not feasible for your family? We can give you lots of ideas on how to make it work. Read how another guest blogger Michelle from Simplify Live, Love, shared how she saves money while traveling with her children. Our own writer Maggie has lots of great tips for traveling cheaply with the family for us too. Our writers have also given us lots of travel hacks to survive travel with kids: Here are 10 great tips. And if traveling too far from home doesn’t seem doable in this season of life, we have a series of posts about road trips within a 100 miles of the Quad Cities you need to read!