Inspiring Lives 09: Travelling the World with Children

Travelling the world might seem impossible once you’ve got little ones to look after, but mum Lauren from Aspiring Kennedy makes sightseeing a possibility. From mountain top fondu in Switzerland to gingerbread cake in Edinburgh’s tea rooms; finding gorgeous getaways whilst keeping two little ones happy & entertained is Lauren’s forte.

Ciao Lauren! You’re currently in Italy, what area are you visiting and how is it going?

How’s Italy going? It’s amazing! Coming back to a place that is was so important and influential to our lives pre-children feels like coming back to a different life. Gone are the late night runs to the piadina shop and the 1.5 hour drives to our favorite gelateria- but with kids, new adventures arrive, too. We are making smaller things feel bigger… And Italy is a place that you can easily do that without feeling like you’re compromising. Italy does the every day so beautifully; lunch in the garden of a pizzeria or a walk through olive trees feels grand here.

How are the little ones coping with the weather out there?

They absolutely love the heat and sleep well in the warm nights, which I love since I’m from Texas and hot weather is so comfortable for me.

What initially inspired you to start travelling?

Well I started traveling way before kids… I grew up going to a lot of places with my own parents and it had a big impact on me. I think that is big part of what inspires me to try it with my own.

When you go travelling, what’s in your essentials bag for Viola & Harrison?

I always stock up on cheap toys from Tiger for my three year old, snacks for my one year old and a small container of bubbles for really desperate moments.

How do you prepare the little ones for flights? We know that sometimes the whole experience can be quite tiresome on little one.

We actually don’t talk much about it in advance because it doesn’t seem to help much. We just act excited about it and pep them up for fun. We pack tons of snacks that require tedious handwork (hello popcorn!) and try to do flights over mealtimes to occupy them.

Do you tend to stay in private accommodation, family specific accommodation or anywhere that takes your fancy?

If it’s for work- it’s always in hotels on the road. If it’s for longer stays or our own travel, we always rent a place that tend to be self-catering. It gives you so much needed freedom with little kids.

In terms of affording to travel as a family, do you have any advice on how best to budget & where to find the best deals?

AirBnB has changed travel for young families! It is so easy to find someplace great for much less than what two adjoining hotel rooms would be. Plus, kitchens give such a great saving for breakfasts and various meals throughout your trip.

When you first started travelling with Viola & Harrison what were your biggest concerns?

My biggest concerns were probably about looking cool to non-parents. I didn’t want to be one of “those parents.” Ha! Now I don’t care about that – I just keep my head down, try to be understanding of what my kids are experiencing and help navigate them through it as happily as they can.

Can you describe your most memorable travel experience as a whole family?

Oh man… We are spoiled to go so many places that most of our memories are from travelling. But I think the sweetest memories we have from being in a different place were this spring in Paris together. It was three months of work there for us and we had such a great time together! Our kids got great attention from us, we all fell into a really comfortable rhythm and our apartment was big enough for us all to have our own space in. It was a sweet season of life!

Do you have any embarrassing moments that have happened with the little ones that you can share with us?

You have to be able to laugh at yourself if you want to maintain sanity while travelling with kids. Just today, we were visiting with a friend here in Florence when our three year old casually lifted her dress… And revealed that her underwear was no longer employed. Apparently, she peed in their garden somewhere while we were sitting outside. It’s been three hours and I still have yet to find where she took them off.

Which country do you enjoy travelling to the most?

This is so tough! Iceland has become a special place for us over the past five years. I went for the first time when newly pregnant, so it’s always felt like a place we went “with kids.” It also has to be one of the nicest places to bring kids – very easy!

Which country has been the best experience for both Viola & Harrison? Were there any places they didn’t like?

They love everywhere, but some places are more restricting than other for kids. Paris, if you are there for a short time, is really hard on kids. They loved it when we had our own space to relax and explore – but it has been awful trying to get around the city on a rushed weekend with them.

If you were to name three things to never do whilst travelling with a little one, what would they be?

Wear white, forget to charge your iPad and try to be cool around people without kids. They’ll always think you’re a bit dorky, and in the end – who cares! Just might as well have fun and enjoy the stage of life you’re in- even if that means you have kids rolling on the ground in the immigration line as you furiously fill out a million landing cards.

Lastly, what’s the most important aspect to remember when travelling with young children?

It’s hard not to feel frustrated with the changes that kids bring to vacations. Sometimes it seems that you can’t do all the things you once loved about getting away – long meals, late mornings in bed, or laying out by the pool… But if you shift your expectations, it really becomes fun! New treasures from travel emerge as you reshape your travel plans: ice cream everyday, picnics somewhere pretty, collecting something in each place you go. If you go with adult expectations – you’ll leave your holiday frustrated and disappointed. (Trust me!) Realign your trip plans and I promise – you’ll all be happier.

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