Monday, 18 January 2016

Travelling? Spare a thought for your parents

We have just got home from a road trip with our toddler. It was about a five to six hour drive each way with our little girl. It had me thinking about travelling with my family when we were kids. We would go on long long long roadtrips every holiday break and long weekends from two hours trips away to 12 hours or more! Things have changed.

Before internet, easy air travel, roadside restaurants and air conditioning in cars people still went on holidays. Spare a thought for your parents and grandparents when you're packing the kids into a spacious SUV with air conditioning, comfortable car seats and in-car DVD players this holiday season!

My mother is guest posting for me again and tells what it used to be like....


Recently I’ve been travelling a fair bit. I’ve enjoyed it a lot but realise I am very lucky to be able to see so much of the world. My children are now leading their own busy lives (it does happen, you know), and having the freedom to travel is one of the few compensations of getting older.
But no matter how much I travel now, I never forget what travel was like when I had small children along for the ride. There were some highs and some awful lows.

We’ve always been travellers, although there were lean years when our trips were modest. During the ‘baby years’ my husband and I didn’t travel much at all. We were busy parenting, scrimping and saving, paying off our mortgage, and managing a household. Then we began to get itchy feet again and did what we could to get out on the road.

But let’s start at the beginning of our travel with children. Our first child was born in Germany, while my husband was working there, and eventually we brought our baby home to Australia.

On the way we managed a small road trip in France. How times have changed since then! We loaded our daughter into the back seat of the car – wicker baby basket on the back seat – and off we went. No approved baby capsule and no safe anchorage points. Who needed them? Actually, we had nothing to anchor and we didn’t know much about baby seats back then.

Our trip felt pretty unreal. We were still very sleep deprived and I was recovering from ill health, but we still managed to drive over the Alps into Switzerland and, eventually, to England. We flew home from London. What an adventure.
Our holidays after that, especially after the next two children came along, were much more modest. When we could we’d load the kids into the family sedan (about as big as a modern day Corolla) and head off on a road trip. Just about every square centimetre of the car was packed with something. Often we’d visit family a few hours north of home.

Those trips were sometimes hard going! The road at Christmas time was narrow, busy and hot. It was not much fun in our non-air conditioned car. And keeping babies and toddlers happy in the back seat was very tricky. Someone was always car sick, and everyone was cranky. There were unscheduled toilet breaks and stops to dispose of the latest sick bag. Does this all sound familiar?

When our youngest child graduated from nappies we took the opportunity to have an overseas Mediterranean holiday during the Christmas school holidays. We’d been saving a long time and we knew it would be years before we could go again.

That trip had its ups and downs, like most of the others. We had to travel about 36 hours just to get there and keeping three littlies under control on the plane wasn’t easy.

The internet hadn’t been invented back then and we arrived in Athens with not a single night of accommodation booked in advance. How’s that for risky?

Somehow we managed it all but later on in the trip things nearly came unstuck when my handbag was stolen in Italy. I blamed it on being distracted by a toddler trying to fall into a castle moat – but maybe I was just a little na├»ve too.

The highs of the trip were truly wonderful. We had an unforgettable Christmas on Crete, saw the annual nativity scene in St Peter’s Square, and stood on a magical hillside at Delphi just taking in the beauty of it all. Most of all we met amazing strangers because having children with us simply broke down barriers. We made lovely connections, with all sorts of people, unhindered by language barriers.

One brief but memorable experience happened at a remote hilltop monastery in Crete. A tiny, wizened old lady (a nun, perhaps) emerged from her cell-like room to offer our three children some home-made biscuits. She didn’t speak English, but it didn’t matter – she was delighted to meet our little ones and we were delighted to have met her.

In many ways travelling with children was an advantage not a problem, and our trip taught me to look past the frustrations and enjoy the special things about introducing your children to the world.
At this time of year many parents are heading on a trip away with their families. Just remember that for all the difficulties you may encounter there are moments of joy too.

Happy holidays!


Linking with:
The Ultimate Rabbit Hole
I Must Confess - My Home Truths
With Some Grace


  1. Oh gosh yes, so true! We have air conditioning in our car but that's about it! And our littlest boy gets carsick so we load up on the car sickness medicine which makes him sleepy and the two times we've traveled any kind of real distance they slept most of the way which was bloody awesome. Your adventures sound far more exciting! Maybe in later years when I get brave we may go further abroad!

  2. How lovely your mum guest posts for you Lu :)
    She makes great points about how it was so different all those years ago without the creature comforts we have today - but they still did it! My grandparents used to take me to our shack at the river all the time, and as a family we travelled to different parts of Australia. So many great memories!

  3. It's great to look back on memories from child hood, I want my son to have those memories of travel like I do, and its nice to remember how much it has changed!

  4. So reassuring to read this, thank you. We're heading on our first overseas family trip to Europe with our high energy toddler and I'm quietly freaking out!

  5. I love when your Mum says that travelling with her kids allowed them to break down barriers easily. Of all the worry and anxiety travelling with kids brings, the innocence of a child and one seeing the world is always intriguing.

  6. we didn't do a lot of travel as kids but what what did do brings back wonderful family memories.
    You mum writes great points in this post.

    Lauren |