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Don't Wait Until They're Older: Why We Decided to Travel with Our Kids at Young Ages

Hey fellow Niagara moms! Ashley Avis here, balancing the whirlwind of motherhood, business, and my insatiable desire to travel with my little ones. Today, I'm diving into a topic that's close to my heart and that I don't get to talk about often enough: the adventure of traveling with kids.

But before I delve into the why and how of our family's globetrotting escapades, let me introduce the main characters: my daughter, a 5-year-old, seasoned jetsetter with 12 trips already under her belt, spanning destinations from England to Vegas to the Caribbean and Disney. And then there's my son, an 8-year-old airport expert, clocking in an impressive 30+ flights and already having a preferred airline at that. Yes, you heard that right—my kiddos have probably seen more of the world than some adults I know. And you know what? We wouldn't have it any other way.

The Las Vegas Strip at Night

Let's rewind the clock to when my son was a mere 4.5 months old, and we decided to take on Vegas. Note to all parents flying westward: prepare for a time warp, especially when your little one's internal clock wakes them up at 5 am, which translates to 2 am Vegas time. And spoiler alert: Starbucks isn't open that early.

One memorable moment from that trip? Renting a car and driving to the Hoover Dam. Armed with our trusty stroller and car seat, we made our way out into the desert, and all was great—until my son decided to toss his binkie into the dam. Lesson learned: always pack extra soothers.

Kids in front of the Bellagio, Vegas

A TIP FROM OUR FIRST TRIP: Keep an eye on time changes and plan your travels around

your little one's sleep schedule, no matter the time zone. It can help.

ANOTHER TIP: Worried about car seat availability? Bring your own and Google how to install it safely into any taxi, shuttle or rental car beforehand.

PRO TIP: And if you're flying overnight, bring something to babywear so that your babe is safe and sound in case you get tired and want to nod off too. 

Also- if you're wondering if Vegas is even family friendly- DM me on Instagram @ashleyavisco, and I'll spout off all the kid activities they have on the strip plus where all of the elevators are so you can cruise around with your stroller in style.

little girl sitting in front of Magic Kingdom, Disney World

Fast forward through a pause in travel during the COVID era, and we found ourselves navigating the germ-conscious world of post-pandemic travel, starting with a trip to the ultimate family destination: Disney World. Cue the hand sanitizer and germ vigilance—because when tens of thousands of families converge daily, a little extra precaution goes a long way.

Kid at the Beach, Disney Castaway Cay

We were highly aware on our recent Disney Cruise that every time we would go up and down the stairs, my thumb-sucking daughter was getting germs on her hands, that always seemed to be in her mouth. Yes, we gave her her own keychain with Hand Sanitizer (we call it HanSan for short because it sounds cool.) 

And then there was the unforgettable Disney trip (can you tell we love Disney yet) where I battled bronchitis while wrangling a toddler and a bun in the oven. Note to self: always pack a mini pharmacy in your carry-on. Trust me, the relief of having meds on hand outweighs the hassle of lugging them around.

TIP: Pack a travel first aid kit stocked with essentials like band aids, pain relievers, allergy meds, sunscreen, and bug spray. It's a small investment for peace of mind and can save you a ton of money.

Kids on an airplane, airplane activities for kids

Now, let's talk about airport logistics.

I always get a little nervous at an airport because there are so many people around. So I always try to take deep breaths, and keep my kids close. My son and daughter know that airports can be stressful (until you find your gate) so we have a rule: If Mommy and Daddy ask you to do something in the airport- do it as quickly as you can. (We may reward them with treats on the plane, more on that coming.) 

girl leaving disney resort, Caribbean Beach, with a roller carry on and minnie mouse

If you’re worried about going through security with kiddos, have no worries- 9 times out of 10, you get to go to the special family line! That’s where the staff have more patience, (sometimes) and the line is way shorter (most times, especially in Orlando.) And wouldn’t it be awesome if you could just strap your kids down and zoom through the entire place with ease? Car seats and strollers are pieces of cake. Airports make it easy to bring them through security and right to the gate or even on the plane! And for when your children get a little older, you can buy those carry-ons with wheels. I call them Game-changers. My kids have never had more fun in line than sitting on their four-wheeled luggage pretending they were riding cheetahs and rhinos. 

boy with a Mickey Mouse Waffle- egg free, on the Disney WISH Cruise

What about food?

When I travel to other countries, a big concern of mine is that my picky eater won’t like any of the food. Or worse- the food will have something he is allergic to in it and he will have a reaction. (It’s one of my greatest fears and it’s happened.) What I like to do ahead of time is research the restaurant menus, or types of food each place offers. I know my kids staples: French Fries, Pizza, Chicken Strips, and guess what- restaurants know this too, almost anywhere we go, that’s there for children! 

TIP: We pack boxes of crackers, protein bars, sweet treats, in our luggage to keep the kids hunger satisfied. My favourite thing to pack is Mr. Noodle Cups in my carry on. When I am on a plane, and my daughter wants a meal, all I need to do is ask for a cup of hot water, and bam, she’s got soup!

ProTip: If you are really concerned about food being cross contaminated with allergens, I highly recommend a Disney Cruise. My son pretty much had a personal chef wherever he went. And it didn’t cost us extra for them to be that careful! You should have seen his face when he found out he could eat a Mickey Mouse chocolate chip waffle, (I almost cried, okay maybe I did- Disney makes me emotional.) 

Expect the unexpected, they say—and they're not wrong.

I remember on a recent trip to  Punta Cana, a blissful island getaway just after the New Year, my son- who does not know how to swim well- fell into the deep end of a swimming pool. Panic shot through my body as we pulled him up just seconds after he fell in. He was a little shaken, and I was really shaken! So later that when my daughter managed to get her finger jammed in the crack of a bathroom door, the before-mentioned panic came rushing right back. Let’s just say, I wasn’t expecting anything but bliss on this vacation- but- life happens, no matter where you are.  Traveling with kids is a crash course in rolling with the punches. 

Ashley Avis, Online Marketer, Standing in front of ocean in Punta Cana with children

But amidst the chaos, there's magic—the joy in their eyes as they experience new cultures and adventures. To see their little minds thinking as we drive through different cities, or hear the thoughtful questions they ask me when they see something that is different to them. Or when the waves on the ocean shoreline are so big that my kids have to hold hands and run from every chasing wave- pure joy. I always tear up when I see my daughter’s eyes beam as she spots Cinderella's castle, or my son high five a Cirque du Soleil performer carrying fire, or to watch the confidence in my children with navigating security at the airport, all worth it! 

From exposing them to different cultures to breaking the monotony of routine, traveling with kids is an adventure in itself. And yes, there will be picky eaters, diaper explosions at the worst possible time (I’m talking seatbelt sign on, major turbulence, on a six hour flight blowout!)  and tantrums along the way, but a little planning goes a long way. Pack their favorite snacks, scout menus in advance, always have wipes handy, and prepare for the unexpected.

family in front of the NASA Sign

mother aunt and daughter feet in the Queen's Walkway in England

OH! My Last Tip: Don’t forget about the trip home. The airplane lands, the kids are back in the car, and they are hungry or tired. I always leave a surprise in the backseat of the car for this reason! It includes: Packing their favourite blanket, pillow, snack and drink. That way I know no matter what time we land, the kids will be satisfied in the car. (I also leave a treat for myself too. Ginger Ale, Turkey Peperette, and a Twinkie if you are wondering.) 

So, fellow moms, let me leave you with this: don't wait until they're older. Embrace the chaos, go with the flow, and let your kids be part of the journey. Because in the end, it's not just about the destinations—it's about the memories you make along the way.

Until next time, happy travels! 

Headshot of Ashley Avis, Online Marketer, Web Designer from Niagara, Ontario

Ashley Avis Web Designer Content Manager Online Marketing Podcast Host Jurassic Park Fan #TravelingWithKids

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