Why You Should Travel with Preschoolers

Little R, enjoying downtime in London.

Little R, enjoying downtime in London.

It’s been a busy few weeks here at Wandering Pod headquarters. First we surfaced for another story on the “Have Family Will Travel” blog from Four Seasons. Then, earlier today, we hit the Google Alerts again, this time with a service piece for Scholastic Parent & Child magazine.

The latter story, titled, “Sanity-Saving Tips for Traveling with Preschoolers,” presents eight reasons why parents *should* travel with their kids when their kids are between the ages of 3-5. Some of my tips: Kids actually will remember it, flying with kids is easier than you think, luxury hotels are doing nice stuff for families, and public transportation is your friend.

Originally, the goal of the story was to give parents who are hesitant to travel with their preschoolers reasons to put their minds at ease.

Along the way, however, I learned a lot, too.

This was the story that led me to Michelle Blume, a child psychologist who blew my mind with some of the data she shared about how much 3- and 4-year-olds actually remember. It also was the piece that enabled me to meet Raquel Anderson, a behavioral health specialist affiliated with Bundoo, a great reference site for parents.

For both of these reasons, I’m excited to share the piece. Hope you enjoy!

Why Free Museums Benefit Family Travelers

Making art at the Tate Modern.

Making art at the Tate Modern.

Most museums here in London are free, and this rules for at least two big reasons.

First: It makes sightseeing cheaper.

Second, during those inevitable moments when your kids act like kids and you need to pull anchor and abort the mission, you don’t have to worry about wasting money.

I’ve come to appreciate the first reason slowly over the 40 days we’ve been here.

As for the second lesson, let’s just say I had a crash-course in learning that one on Thursday, when I took the girls to the Tate Modern museum of contemporary art to celebrate L’s first “Exploration Day.” (For more on the back story that prompted these special weekly adventures, click here.)

The trip started fine. After an uneventful Tube ride to Southwark and a seemingly interminable walk to the museum, the kids climbed on a stair sculpture out front, then excitedly proceeded to the galleries. We hit the brand new Bloomberg Connects bar first, so the girls could ease into the experience with some interactive e-drawing (the units themselves mimicked drawing on a tablet computer, only the pictures posted to a giant wall).

Because the drawing went so well, I thought I might try to expose them to some of the actual art.

This, however, is where the day went south; as we walked through room after room of paintings and pieces in various media, the kids lost it. Big time. They started rebelling with yoga on the floor. Then they hopped around, belting a song from “Doc McStuffins.” In the middle of a crowded gallery.

Finally, when R quite literally ran over and climbed up on one of the art pieces, it was time to go. So we hit the café. Then we went home.

All told, we spent about 90 minutes at the Tate—40 minutes with the interactive e-drawing, 40 at lunch and about 10 minutes in the galleries. If I had paid full-price for that, I would have felt gipped. But because everything but our fish-and-chips lunch (natch) was free, it was no big deal.

I know the thinking behind free museums is to make them available for everyone, but I think the approach benefits (adventuresome) family travelers most. You know the saying about how to roll “if at first you don’t succeed,” right? Let’s just say I’m thankful that we have another three months to get back out there and try, try, try again.

How do you determine when it’s time to abort a travel mission with your kids?

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