- Kama Winters has traveled a lot, personally and professionally.
- She says parents can think outside the box when it comes to traveling with kids.
- This is Winters’ story, as told to Kelly Burch.
This essay is based on a conversation with Kama Winters. Edited for length and clarity.
Someone once told me that you don’t vacation with kids, you travel. I get what they were talking about — traveling with kids can be a lot of work. But I believe it can be rewarding, meaningful, and yes, even relaxing.
As president of Delta Vacations, I work to make travel as effortless as possible. I can’t help you pack, promise your child they won’t cry on the plane, or make jet lag disappear, but I can share what I’ve learned about traveling with kids.
The hardest part can be figuring out where to go
You decide you want to leave, but where? The whole world is at your fingertips, but all that choice can be overwhelming. There are so many reviews online, you can read every possible angle, good or bad.
And yet, these reviews won’t give you the right answer for your family. Instead, think about what you want from this vacation, whether it’s relaxation or cultural immersion. Think about the challenges for your family – like traveling with a pram or dealing with people who don’t sleep well. Then choose the trip that feels most suitable for your specific needs.
Balance routine and innovation
One of the great parts of traveling is expanding your horizons and exploring new things. But this can be overwhelming even for adults, and especially for children. So when I plan a family trip I balance activities and environments that my kids are familiar with while making sure there are one or two new activities each day.
If you’re going to a beach destination, yes, sign the whole family up for snorkeling, but also make sure there’s plenty of time for the kids to just play in the sand if that’s what they like. Booking multiple vacations, even a busy one like Disney, will keep everyone in a good mood.
Listen to the children’s comments
After a trip, I like to sit back and listen as my kids—who are 8 and 11—talk about where they went. Often, the things that stand out in children are not the same things that we notice as adults. And yet, these small memories are what they return to again and again, and which define their love for travel. So consider what they enjoy — for my kids, it’s cooking new cuisine — and incorporate more of that into your next trip.
Children are more resilient than we think
Many parents are wary of travel, especially long flights, because they worry about how the children will fare. And yet, children can handle more than what we give them. If your little one fits on the plane, be sure there are plenty of understanding adults around. Many of us are parents of young children or once were, and are happy to lend a hand or offer a smile of support.
Europe is a child-friendly destination
This winter I will take my children to Amsterdam. Next year we will be heading to Italy and I am already thinking about Greece in the future. Many parents consider taking a European vacation without their children, but Europe is a great destination for families. Children can see first-hand the historical sites they learn about in school, visit museums and try new food. Even the train journey between destinations can be an event for children.
Remembering simple pleasures like this can make traveling with kids a lot easier.