5 Rules of Traveling With Kids: A Traveling Child Responds

February 15, 2012 in North America, Travelogue, United States

Quite some time ago CNNgo posted an absolutely ridiculously wrong article about family travel called “5 Rules of Traveling With Kids” by Eliane Ee. I don’t know Ms. Ee, but I do know that she lives on a different parenting planet than the families on the road that we’ve met. A few of the nomadic families have chosen to publicly take issue with this article and respond. In mine, the traveling child (a compilation of many I know) responds to the author:

1. The younger the child, the bigger the suitcase.

Really? Seriously? I’m one quarter your size, maybe one tenth your size depending on my age, and it’s MY fault that a suitcase the size of Montana is bulging at the seams?

You’re going to blame me for your insecurity as a mother that has driven you to pack half of the nursery at home? Half of the nursery, incidentally, that I did not ask for or need, or expect you to provide for me at birth.

Here’s what I need: 3 outfits, 1 pair of shoes, a few diapers to get me through the first day and my favourite blankie from home. How does that add up to fifty pounds of bulging roller bag?

Haven’t you heard of the One Bag Rule?

Don’t blame me.

2. The younger the child, the harder it is to get over jet lag.

For the record, I don’t even know what jet lag is. I know I need to eat, play and sleep in some recognizable pattern. If you don’t make a big deal of it, neither will I. You could adjust your expectations just a teeny bit and get some good advice from the plethora of real traveling families out there whose kids don’t implode with cross continental travel. You could ask those kids. They’d tell you how to help me.

Instead, you gripe that I don’t appreciate the trip to Disneyland. Perhaps what I’d appreciate is a little grace and flexibility.

For the record, it’s not the age of the child as much as the approach of the parent.

3. Travel to a destination that serves French Fries

You feed me a steady stream of that crap at home and now you’re expecting me to eat it on holiday too? Are you kidding me?! What does a kid have to do to get a BREAK around here?

You may have noticed that Oaxacan kids think chapulines are the best snack ever, and little kids in Japan scarf down dried worms of various sorts like chips! Kids in India love lentils and Korean kids munch kimchi along with their grandparents. The fact that I don’t have a broader palate is one person’s fault: YOURS.

Please. Someone rescue me from this narrow-minded mother. I need some chicharonnes, or some falafal with my lunch and all she’ll give me is french fries!!

4. You can’t have too much inflight entertainment.

And here I must risk getting my mouth washed out with soap and cry “BULL SHIT” loudly. Perhaps I’ll do it on the plane, you know, when I get bored and “all hell breaks loose.” Just to teach you a lesson.

Airplanes come with inflight entertainment. LOTS of it. If I have my own little backpack of goodies I’ll be fine. You worry too much.

And you know what bugs me the most?

You expect the worst of me.

You don’t believe in my ability to do what’s right, to make the most of the time and to be a delight to those around me. You believe I’m going to fail, so I’d hate to disappoint you. You’re treating me like a problem to be solved, a frustration to be soothed, a bomb ready to explode rather than treating me like a person, a fellow traveler, a human soul. I’m a global citizen.

I don’t need more entertainment, I need to be treated like a person, loved, valued, believed in, not “entertained” into oblivion.

Here’s a thought: Try TALKING to me. I have ideas, you know.

5. Strollers are as much a bane as a boon.

Why are you packing a stroller? I didn’t ask for that! I’d be just as happy to ride in a sling, or walk if I’m big enough. But that would probably slow you down, and that seems like the biggest issue: your convenience. Heaven forbid that a I should interfere with your program.

Take a step back for a minute Mama, look at me with new eyes. See me as a blessing, an opportunity, a gift, a human, a budding travel companion who wants to branch out, wants to try new things and who just wants your attention, your time, and your interest.

Instead of acting like my stroller and I are more trouble than we’re worth and making a big deal out of how much you’ve adjusted YOUR plans and given up YOUR desires for the trip for me, just include me.

I don’t care where we go. I’d love to backpack India, or I’d love the kiddie pool at the Four Seasons Hualalai in Hawaii, or I’d love to just walk to the park and pick up leaves together. It’s not about the destination, it’s about you, and me.

I’m not an inconvenience: I’m me.

Interested in reading what other traveling families had to say in response to the same article:

The “Secret” to Traveling with Children by Susan W

Worst Family Travel Advice I’ve Ever Read by Gabi Klaf

Debunking cnn’s rules for traveling with kids by Mary

How Do you Travel with Chilldren? by Alisa

The Surprisingly Easy Truth of Traveling with Kids  by A King’s Life

CNN’s Ridiculous Rules About Travel With Kids by Corinne at Have Baby Will Travel (@hvbabywilltrvl)

Shocking Tips on Traveling with Kids That Went Unnoticed…It is Time to Demystify The Five Rules of Traveling with Kids by Claudia Looi @travelwritingpr

5 Amazing Reasons To Travel With Your Kids!

French fries and chicken nuggets are travel essentials: The worst family travel advice ever by Nancy Sathre-Vogel @familyonbikes

More Than French Fries by Lisa Shusterman

Why “Easy” Travel Options Aren’t Always the Best for Kids- a Rebuttal to CNNGo “5 Rules of Traveling With Kids” by Jody Halsted; Family Rambling @iatraveler

CNNGo Five Rules of Travelling With Kids Are You For Real?  by New Life On The Road

Myths, NOT rules, of traveling with kids by Kate Rehkopf, Experiential Family @experientialfam

My Reality (Not Rules) When Traveling with Kids by Keryn Means/Walkingon Travels (twitter: @walkingontravel)

“Yes ! It is possible to travel with children of all ages” by Susus 7

Rules are What You Make Them: Paving Your Own Way Through Family Travel by Jessica @Suitcases and Sippy Cups