As parents, there are all sorts of reckless activities we partake in. Things like grocery shopping with our kids on a Sunday afternoon, delaying lunch to power through some errands, or, keeping our kids up late on special occasions.
Every parent knows how dire the consequences can be in each of these scenarios, yet sometimes, we live our lives dangerously close to the edge.
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However, there happens to be one thing I have vowed to never, ever partake in again – and that’s vacationing with my young kids.
Because, pardon my French, but fuck that shit. Life is too short, people.
The few times we’ve braved traveling, it’s been such an absolute cluster-fuck-fresh-hell, that I simply refuse to do it anymore. I am done, and I don’t feel bad about it.
Maybe your family lives in an organic granola ad, and you enjoy family vacations. Or, maybe your family’s like mine, and they’re an absolute disaster. If you’re of the latter, I welcome you to read on, while also letting go of the notion that traveling with your young kids has some sort of meaningful benefit.
Spoiler alert: it doesn’t, and we all need to CTFD about our reasoning behind travel.
Here are six reasons traveling with young kids is pure hell.
Reason #1 – The Packing
The first terrible thing associated with young kids and travel is the exorbitant amount of shit you need to pack – it equates to approximately 90% of the items in your house. Half the items you pack are for “just in case” scenarios that never happen (except for that one item you foolishly decided to leave behind).
At least 40% of your trip is consumed by packing/unpacking related tasks.
Reason #2 – The Commute
Whether you’re driving or flying, your kids complain, fight or cry for the vast majority of it. They aren’t interested in any of the games you planned, movies you downloaded, or snacks you prepared.
No one ever needs to use the bathroom at the same time. They also don’t want to sleep, unless you’re about to arrive at your destination. Nothing will preoccupy them for more than three minutes. Essentially, you spend the entire commute desperately trying to manage them.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, someone pukes.
Reason #3 – Time Zone Changes & Sleep-Related Fuckery
Nothing goes with travel exhaustion better than a side dose of a different time zone. Personally, this is my least favorite aspect of traveling. I have a hard enough time messing with my kids’ sleep schedule on a regular basis – I almost never do it.
So the concept of doing this for an entire week feels akin to a suicide mission for me. This is because my overtired children are like drunken, irrational, assholes with multiple unstable personalities.
I think this one’s such a big deal to me because every aspect of your life unravels when your kids are overtired, which really defeats the purpose of a vacation.
Plus, as if bedtime isn’t already enough of a dumpster fire, the changes in time and setting will take your normal bedtime struggles, and turn them into a thousand dumpster fires.
No one sleeps when they’re supposed to. And, no matter what type of effect the change in time “should” have on your kids, the only result is that they go to bed late, and wake up early. End of story, don’t even try.
Then, once your kids are finally somewhat adjusted to the new time zone, it’s time to go home. Getting them back to their normal schedule somehow takes two years.
Reason #4 – The Inability To Have Fun
Refer to Reason #3. Since your kids are sleep deprived baby demons, you aren’t able to enjoy anything. They’re insufferable jerk-heads all day long, and they don’t have a lick of appreciation for any of the fun, new experiences you expose them to.
Reason #5 – The Expense
No matter what you do to avoid it, you end up spending a panic-inducing amount of money. You probably created an adorable little budget before you left, but you may as well toss that shit into one of the dumpster fires.
Just like everything else associated with vacationing and kids, your money, too, goes up in flames. One could argue it’s the kindling that stokes the fire. Watch that motherfucker burn.
Reason #6 – It’s Basically Pointless
After our few grueling travel experiences, my husband and I seriously considered what the real purpose of traveling with our children was, and neither of us could justify the risk vs. reward. Well, actually it’s more like the brutal suffering vs. reward.
Now, I know what a lot of people are thinking: there are a ton of reasons why traveling with our kids is important. There are even websites devoted to this very subject, and parents argue in favor of traveling all the time.
I can practically hear people shouting “it’s hard, but it’s worth it!”
While I don’t necessarily disagree with this viewpoint, I would argue that there are countless other ways to give our young children many of the same enriching experiences, and they don’t involve spending a shit ton of money for a week’s worth of unrestrained misery.
Our children have this miraculous inherent ability to feel immense joy over simple things.
Why do we take this gift, and needlessly try to one-up it? To a young child, the local fair is equally as magical as Disney World. Dipping their toes in a stream is as exciting as the ocean. A sleepover at a cousin’s house is as fun as a night in a hotel.
Studies have also proven that the type of experience matters far less than the sense of connection it brings. I don’t know about other people’s kids, but mine definitely don’t experience any sort of meaningful connection with me when they’re tired and grumpy, even if they are at a beautiful beach.
We’ve gotten more enjoyment out of a single playground visit than an entire vacation because everyone was comfortable, happy, and well rested – thus able to have genuine family fun.
We can teach our kids about diversity through books, cultural events, restaurants, markets, and museums.
We can scope out our cities for different events that will broaden their experiences, show them new things, and help them learn about behavior in public. We can immerse them into the unique aspects of nature that exist within our own geographical regions.
Then, we can take them home, put them to sleep in the comfort of their own beds, and know they’ll be well rested for whatever adventure the next day holds. Is it the same as traveling? Absolutely not, but we’re talking about preschoolers here, let’s not overthink how far we need to go to help them learn and enrich their lives.
We don’t have to suffer through the expense and exhaustion of traveling with our young kids just for the greater purpose of shaping them through unique experiences.
Unless you want to, in which case, you’re a stronger man than me.
There are endless ways to accomplish this where we live, we just have to get creative. Stay-cationing is where it’s at, people, I’m telling you.
So, sure, maybe I’m a party-pooping-drag when it comes to the concept of travel. But I just can’t justify it. I don’t like spending my life savings on miserable experiences that give me minor PTSD.
Our family has become content to save the beach vacations and fun excursions for when our kids are old enough to handle it, remember it, and actually enjoy it. And I won’t guilt myself into worrying that they’re missing out on something.
We can do lots of fun things, and suffer the consequences of their insane shenanigans from the comfort of our city, thank-you very much.