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Why We Travel with Children

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Why do we travel with kids? Traveling with children is not as relaxing as seeing the world without them. It’s harder. It requires more planning and more compromise. But the same is true of parenting. And the joys of parenting more than make up for the inconveniences. Children live so much in the present moment that we are forced to slow down and see things as they do…right now…right here. And that brings traveling to a whole new and exciting dimension.

Little girl running though meadow

(Photo credit: pat138241,

My husband and I recently took our two kids on a road trip to the quaint town of Julian, California for the day. It is a town known for its abundance of apple pie shops and its country small-town-ness.

We had a quick lunch at the Cowgirl Café before savoring slices of apple pie with vanilla ice cream at Mom’s Pie House. Then we perused kitschy shops as long as the kids would allow it. Then the baby, Leo, began flailing his head into my chest and grunting. Next our preschooler, Karissa, got that scary overtired glean in her eyes as she started tossing merchandise from shelves. This was our signal – time for naps!

Apple pie a la mode

(Photo credit: HHLtDave5,

The winding drive to go apple picking at a local orchard induced sleep for both kids. My husband and I lingered in the parking lot and chatted quietly while the kids dozed.

A short while later, we pushed Leo in his stroller through rows of apple trees while Karissa delighted in filling her paper sack with tiny ruby and green fruit. She zipped through the orchard, grinning through bites of apple. She cried when it was time to leave.

Apple tree in Julian, CA

(Photo credit: maryrprentice,

Next we drove to nearby Lake Cuyamaca, a smallish lake lined by colorful fall trees. I marched ahead with the baby strapped to my chest in his carrier. I wanted some solace from 3-year-old squeals and was lacking the patience to go at a preschooler pace.

At one point I was so far ahead that I could neither see my husband and Karissa behind me, nor hear any sign of them. I worried I had walked too far ahead. Maybe my daughter had gotten tired, forcing them to head back. I stopped to stare at the lake through a twinkling of golden leaves. Hugging my son to me, I leaned my face into the warmth of his fuzzy head and breathed in his baby smell. I enjoyed the serenity of that moment.

But even then, I felt a tugging at me. I wanted to be with my other child, too. I wanted to see her reaction to the leaves as they crunched beneath her steps. I longed to watch her blue-moccasined feet scamper through the grasses, arms spread like an airplane’s wings. I strained to hear those squeals I had sought to escape.

I waited.

Sun shining through golden leaves at a lake

(Photo credit: swkunst,

Soon I heard, “Mommmmmy! Where aaaaaare youuuuu?!” Then I saw her, a streak of color running toward me. I was greeted by a giant smile and little arms encircling my legs and stories of birds seen in the sky.

Karissa led our pack of four back down the path to our car. We rambled over rocks and roots and fallen leaves. We wound through trees, over tall grasses, around muddy puddles and past a lake dotted with tiny boats.

I witnessed, and therefore was part of, my child’s pure joy in the journey.

And that is why we travel with children.

Why do you travel with kids? Let us know your reasons in the comments below!

If you like the narrative style of this story, then I bet you’ll enjoy this heart-pumping dog-sledding tale about leading a pack of wild huskies through the Canadian wilderness.

About Colleen Lanin

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor-in-chief of As the author of her book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but also how to love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for such outlets as the "Today" show,, Parenting Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Expedia, San Diego Family Magazine, and more. Colleen gives tips on television, radio, and as a public speaker. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

  1. This is so true! Seeing the joy in children’s eyes as they explore someplace new for the first time is an incredible pleasure. Good for you for reminding us to get out there and have more of those moments!

  2. I want apple pie now!

  3. Barbara Cox says

    Lovely article! Seeing the world with a child brings a different viewpoint and it’s why I take Delilah with me whenever possible, it also helps them be more open minded and accepting of others-it’s all worth it!

  4. Olek Minkowski says

    Perfect! To watch our world through children eyes and compare feelings. Many years ago I wrote my first book for teens after making a long 3-week trip with my 2 sons, 12 and 7. A male trip. It was a chain of discoveries for all of us. Tests. Arguments. Confessions. We became friends. Before this trip I was writing only for adults, being a journalist and a beginning writer.

  5. Beautiful snapshot in time of how it feels to be a mom. Better than any picture for capturing the chaos, the patience, how we sometimes need 10 minutes of peace, and the wholeness we feel as our kids enhance our experiences. Makes me wish I would have written as many “snapshots” as the photos I took. Maybe I’ll start today?

  6. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

    Karen – I hope you will start journaling about your journey as a mom! (Or maybe even start a blog?!) It’s a great way to step back from the chaos and reflect on the wonders of parenting from time to time.

  7. Great post. I shared it on our Visit Julian Facebook page at Hopefully it will inspire other parents to make a trip to our beautiful little town.

  8. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

    Robin – Thank you for your kind words. I do hope this post will inspire people to head to Julian. It is a favorite annual trek for our family. One that we need to make again soon!

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