3 Things My toddler taught me about traveling

Before I became a mother, traveling was admittedly a lot different. My husband and I would go 90 miles an hour, trying to cram a million things into a day, then stop for beers at a local pub, stay for a few hours then drag our exhausted butts back to the hotel and crash. The next day, we would wake up whenever our bodies told us they had gotten enough sleep and start the process over. That was pre-kids. In the last year and a half traveling with my daughter, Avery, a lot has changed. Our entire traveling style has changed. Kids have a way of taking your schedule and ripping it in pieces. But I’ve come to realize some of the most valuable lessons about traveling, my toddler taught me.

What my Toddler Taught Me about Traveling

Wake up early

Parenthood and Passports - Rothenburg ob der tauber
5am: the perfect time for pictures!

This may be the most valuable lesson my toddler has taught me about traveling…. and it was completely on accident. My daughter sucks at sleeping. She always has, I’ve written about it several times. When we are traveling sleep becomes her biggest foe. Needless to say, we wake up early… like really early. Sunrise early. At first, I thought this was miserable. But as it turns out, rolling out of bed with the slightest crack of sunlight, actually works out in our favor. We are dressed, ready, and the first to the breakfast buffet each morning. Then we are out the door before most of the tourist sites even open. We’ve gotten some amazing photos of places and landmarks that are usually crawling with tourists by 10am.

Parenthood and passports -Travel lessons learned from my toddler
Not a soul in sight at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna.

Empty plazas and churches, no lines, great lighting for photos… Getting up early is the best advice I could give to travelers. It also means we can fit much more into our day without having to rush, because we aren’t wasting time in long lines or queues. Besides, we aren’t really as tired when we wake up early as I thought we’d be. Traveling with a toddler means we also go to bed much earlier now.

Slow down

Parenthood and Passports - Lessons my toddler taught me about traveling
Hanging out at the playground in Prague, Czech Republic

Traveling with kids forces you to slow down. (Like I sometimes wish time would.) But I’ve found that it’s actually a good thing. You learn more about a place when you spend a little extra time there. Nowadays, when we travel, we pad a few more days onto our itinerary. We travel slower, see less but experience more. We find playgrounds and watch our daughter interact with other children who don’t even speak the same language. And when we look around the playground, we find the other parents are just as excited to see their little ones playing with our “foreign” kid as we are to see Avery play with theirs.

Enjoy the little things

My daughter’s favorite word is currently ice cream. (That’s technically two words, but you know what I mean.) It’s also her favorite food. (Go ahead, judge me.) Her first time trying ice cream was this summer in Europe. I swear there was an ice cream shop on every corner, and I think we stopped at each one of them. It was fun. It was relaxing. And sometimes it’s the little things about a trip that are most memorable.

Parenthood and Passports - Things my Toddler Taught me about traveling
Avery trying ice cream in Poland

I’m sure throughout our years of traveling together, she’ll teach me a few more things. I only hope that I can teach her lessons that are just as valuable as the ones she has taught me.Parenthood and Passports - Things my toddler taught me about travel

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21 comments on “3 Things My toddler taught me about traveling”

Great article. I love reading about travellers who keep going after they have kids. I can’t wait to travel with my kids (when/if I have them) rather than it being the end of my travels. You’re little one is adorable and will be so grateful for all these experiences when she grows up! 🙂

I love your articles about real life experiences with a child. Avery’s life opportunities will enhance her ability to accept others.

Being a dad and one who travels with the family (I have two munchkins aged 9 and 3) I can relate to what you say and agree with it all. Have to say, we’ve never done the wake up really early part but will give it a go next time if we can get our daughter who likes to stay up late out of the bed in the morning. Thanks for the tips.

I almost miss the days when my kids woke up early. Not really, but at 8 and 9-years-old we can hardly get out the door by 9:00. As an early riser myself, I like to get up and go. But, kids teach us all sorts of lessons, don’t they? Eating ice cream is an important one!

I have to admit I am not a big fan of waking up early and now my kids are all grown up I am enjoying my sleep ins again! I do see you point though especially about avoiding the crowds. And going slowly and at their pace is a must or its just miserable for everyone lol

I do not have children but this is still really relevant for anyone who is travelling (and in everyday life). Getting up early is the best and slowing down lets you appreciate things more. We all need to take a leaf out of your toddlers book 🙂
Oh and the photo with the ice cream is adorable!!

Thanks! That photo was one of my favorites from our Europe trip. It’s a funny thing about parenthood… you can take a million pictures of famous landmarks on a trip, but the picture of your kid covered in ice cream becomes your favorite.

Wow, I never thought from this perspective..but I have also seen my toddler and at times wondered they are gifted to live in the moment, no past or future matters to them..thats beautiful

I don’t know if I could handle the “go slower” thing but I definitely agree with her that waking up early is the best. Getting up with the sun is my go-to piece of travel advice and my favorite time to be out exploring. 🙂

This is a great article, your kid is sooo cute and you wrote something real! Everything changed, not just during your trips around the world!! The best thing?!?! Slow down…. Exactly what I really need when I will be father!! 😀 thanks for sharing, congrats

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