How I Travel With Four Kids - And Enjoy It
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How I Travel With Four Kids - And Enjoy ItTim van der Vliet shares the secret of enjoying travelling with youngsters
Tim van der Vliet More by this author
Many people experience stress when they travel. Parents who are travelling with their children might experience more stress than most.
We have four children aged 17, 15, 12 and 4. I have travelled (alone) to the Philippines and to Thailand with the older three. At this moment I am on a plane to France with all four children.
It is funny to see how other parents look at us when we walk around at Schiphol Airport. Packed with toys, sweets and other things to keep their children occupied, they see us with hand luggage only – a hippy daddy with a swarm of kids around him. You can hear them think:
‘This guy is mad! On his own with four children...’
‘The two of us can't even handle one!’
So how do I manage to travel with all of my kids, stress free?
1. Travel light
I have noticed that bringing a lot of toys doesn't work to keep the stress level down. Travelling light does! You have to be able to carry your own stuff - and the children too (the 4-year-old only has a very small backpack though). Leave the toys at home and see how your children are able to play with whatever they find on their path. We always bring some books though, and of course the iPhone.
The author, Tim van der Vliet, carrying suitcases...and one of his youngsters!
2.Travel without a plan
Often, when we travel, we don't have everything fully planned. I arrange a place to sleep for the first two days and after that we see what happens, who we meet and where we feel good. The cool thing is that if your children know that not everything is planned, they start to help you and they know they have a say in what the next step is. We just arrived in in Bordeaux, France and, together with my 14-year-old daughter, we planned the next step: San Sebastian in Spain! With her help we arranged a beautiful B&B. I am grateful to her with all my heart. She really understands what travelling is about, as well as the insecurities that go along with travelling and how to handle them. She knows how to book a B&B all alone (with my credit card :)). She feels happy and appreciated because she has helped me, and likes to say: ‘Daddy just needs a bit of help sometimes...’
3. Be grateful
First of all, I am so grateful that we have brought these four beautiful children into this world. The children are grateful because in their relatively short lives they have been to many places: Japan, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Hong Kong, Thailand, the Philippines and about 20 cities and beaches in Europe. They love to sit on a plane for more than 12 hours (I know that sounds ridiculous but it is really true), they are familiar with the unknown and, very importantly, everywhere they go, they learn about new cultures and languages. The older two just ordered in Spanish – and paid the bill! The 3-year-old just yells ‘Holaaaaa’ wherever he goes. The only thing that you can buy with money that truly makes you richer is a holiday. Holidays make us all feel so grateful!