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Traveling with kids:

overcoming the challenge

Leonor Macedo

@a_baby_abroad, @wanderlust.Crew, @nalupelomundo, Getty Images / Illustration: Ana Matsusaki

Mothers and fathers teach how to travel as a family, turning children into citizens of the world

 

The child who asks to leave as soon as you get to the top of Corcovado, the baby who has a meltdown on the most beautiful beach in the Caribbean, the adolescent who can't get off his cell phone during a visit to the Louvre: if you're a mother or a father, you've probably asked yourself if a family vacation is even worth it.

 

But the flip side of this journey is quite beautiful: few things in life are more rewarding than providing your children with the opportunity to see the world. Teaching them to respect other cultures and to feel at home no matter where they are. Traveling with children is a group growing experience and, in this article, three families who live on the road (and document their adventures on social media) explain how it can be equally fun.

 

From Chile to China

Chilean national Daniela Kemeny's son was only three months old when her husband, Sergio, was transferred to China. On the other side of the world and with a baby in tow, she didn't understand why everyone had given her advice to stay home and wait for Baobao (her son's nickname) to grow up before traveling. “Parents don't need to stop doing what they like to do after they become parents. It's like parenthood is supposed to be a sacrifice, but I don't see it that way,” she says.

 

So she went on exploring Shanghai until she decided to visit another part of the country. In the days leading up to the trip, she lost sleep thinking of all the luggage she was going to have to carry. Afterwards, she realized that she might as well have slept: everything worked out better than she imagined and, since then, she hasn't stopped carrying Baobao with her around the world. Except with less luggage: “I learned to break from this paradigm that, in order to leave home with a child, you need to carry the home on your back. Sometimes all you need to travel with a baby is a good sling,” guarantees Daniela.

 

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Not yet three years old, Baobao has been to 12 countries and 60 cities. He's visited such places as Australia, Japan, Spain, South Korea, and Israel. And, for Daniela, it doesn't matter if he remembers everything he's seen so far: “I think it's a tremendous mistake to wait for kids to grow up for them to make the most of a destination. The younger they are, the easier it is to travel with them, because children have fun with simplicity.” For her, the stimuli that babies are subjected to have a positive impact on their growth. Furthermore, it's a great opportunity to teach them to get used to everyday situations, like going to restaurants.

 

Daniela advises parents to connect with others who've already hit the road with their little ones. “There are lots of families that travel with their kids and they have valuable recommendations.” She herself runs a website called A Baby Abroad, recounting her adventures with Baobao, as well as a new crew member: Xiao Didi, the couple's second child who was born August 3 this year.

 

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Tips from A Baby Abroad

Research the destination and make a list of places that will make the whole family happy. There's no need to plan 100% of the itinerary, but keep available options in mind.

 

Think of one activity that will be fun for your child each day.

 

Open your mind, be flexible, and strive for practicality. Your children are going to go outside their routines and – good news! – they'll survive.

Six on the road

Vanessa and Paul Hunt saved for years to buy a big house in California where they could live comfortably with their four children. In 2014, the married couple from the US found their dream house, but at the last minute the owner backed out of the deal. “We were sad and without a home, but we decided to take this lemon and make lemonade,” Vanessa recalls.

 

After doing their research, they discovered that it would be more profitable to travel through Europe than renting a house in a hurry. And they went off to see the world with their children, ages 1, 3, 6, and 8 at the time.

 

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This is the origin of the Wanderlust Crew, also the name of the family's website that seeks to motivate other potential travelers. Today, Ethan, Amelie, Jackson, and Abbi are 5, 7, 10, and 12, respectively. And, of course, they like different things. Attending the expectations of each one while traveling is like playing with building blocks: there's a wide variety of interests and it's a must that everyone gets a say in the to-do list.

 

“Once we've picked a destination, we try to consider activities that will make everyone happy, but that isn't always possible. If there's something that we want to do only with the older kids, for instance, Paul and I divide our time and make it work,” says Vanessa. “We really make an effort so that each one feels special and is learning on their own level.”

 

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Fights occur in the best families, especially among siblings. But the mother of four assures us that, so far, their trips to 10 different countries have only made her kids closer. “Especially when there are just a few toys or the internet is limited. Kids find ways to make their own fun. They've become each other's best friends.”

 

Tips from the Wanderlust Crew

Slow down: appreciate each new culture and locale without worrying about the next activity.

 

Be prepared for anything, but don't plan too much. There's plenty of value in the unexpected.

 

Rent a house instead of staying in hotels. Having a credit card with a good points program and booking flights in advance help keep costs down.

Birth and growing up on the road

If you want to know where Isabelle Nalu is, just turn on the TV. The daughter of video maker Fabiana Nigol and surfer Everaldo Pato, she can be seen in the show Nalu pelo mundo, broadcast on the cable TV network OFF.

 

Now 11, Nalu grew up in front of the cameras, making the planet her home. “Now that she's pre-adolescent, our powers of persuasion have to be more elaborate,” jokes Fabiana. The family only hasn't lost sight of their concern with being happy. “Everyone gets their time to do what they like most during the trip and this time always comes,” she explains.

 

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Since they've been traveling together for a long time, Fabiana knows the benefits of this lifestyle quite well: “Nalu holds onto a little of each experience. She learned what it means to live in the world and that Brazil has great importance, and has also been able to adapt to various situations with maturity.” And, after all, isn't this what we want to pass on to our kids?

 

Tips from Nalu pelo mundo

A good first aid kit is essential.

 

A red-eye flight can make all the difference in making the trip less exhausting!

 

Misunderstandings happen: the secret is to expose your feelings and not hold grudges.