The Best Age to Start Bringing Kids on Trips

July 31, 2010

 The Best Age To Start Bringing Kids On Trips

When friends ask me what the best age is to start bringing your kids with you on long trips, I often tell them that their youngest child should be at least 7 years old. Of course, you can always bring them on trips even when they are younger than that, but I discovered I don't need a vacation after a family vacation if the youngest child accompanying me is at least 7 years old. Apparently, there is logic in the school requirement that a Grade 1 student is at least 7 years old. But in my case, I found it easier to travel with them when they are at least this age because:

1. They can pack their things on their own.
2. They can follow directions well.
  • On our first overseas trip, I instructed my kids to refrain from talking to me or interrupting me while checking-in at the airport or purchasing tickets.On these occasions, I need full concentration because errors on my part will create more problems than usual. They understood and followed my request.
3. They have some measure of control over their emotions and their moods.
  • In my experience, kids generally behave when they are not overly tired or hungry. By keeping a well-paced itinerary, I avoid emotional meltdowns. 
4. You can reason with them regarding purchase of souvenirs.
  • My technique is usually to give each of my kids a fixed amount of money for use to purchase souvenirs. It avoids haggling with them about what's a reasonable and an unreasonable purchase
5. They can assist you in handling luggage.
  • Younger kids could watch over luggage. They provide another pair of eyes who can keep sight of your luggage for you. I normally tie the same ribbon on each luggage which they look out for at the carousel. They can count luggage and can alert your attention in case someone attempts to take your luggage.
6. They can memorize your name, address and phone numbers already.
  • This will be useful in case they get lost. Before trips, I ask them to repeat names, address, and phone numbers weeks before the trip to make sure they memorize it.
  • As an additional precaution, I usually give each one a small pouch that they can hang on their neck, close to their body, with our name, phone number and address of the resort or hotel written on the piece of paper inside, and a small amount of emergency cash.
7. They understand how the buddy system works.
  • Since I have four kids, I assign as partners during trips, my eldest and youngest child together, and my 2nd and 3rd child together.
  • Each one makes sure that they can see their partners. They alert me when their partner is missing or not within their sight.
8. They are potty-trained.

If you want to bring them with you when they are younger than 7 years old, accept the fact that it will be a tiring vacation. I suppose when you do bring them with you, you already assessed the pros and cons and concluded that the advantage far outweighs the disadvantage. Otherwise, I suggest you wait until they are older so all of you will only have good memories of it. 

Good luck traveling with your kids!