Traveling with a 3 year old. You’d think that once you’ve got “traveling with a baby” in the bag, you’d have figured out all there was about family travel right?
Well, I wish I could say yes mama.
Traveling with kids is an ongoing learning process and as your kids grow, the travel challenges and joys that you experience will constantly change.
*sighs* I know… “Wasn’t it supposed to get easier?”
It does! It for sure does (if you know what to expect). So in the hopes of avoiding you the surprise 😉 today I’d love to share with you 9 things I wish I knew before traveling with a 3 year old.
1. It’s going to be so much fun!
Oh yes it will! Traveling with a 3 year old and being a witness on how they react to the world is going to be such a rich experience for you all. You’ll get to hear them repeat every new destination after you and you’ll get to look forward to every new place together because yeah, at 3 years old, your child must likely will be able to notice that you’re traveling.
Taking the train, boarding an airplane, visiting a castle, and all of the activities that you choose to do will feel like the first time (even if you’ve done them before), because now you’ll be able to share the experience with each other at a deeper level. You’ll be able to talk about it, laugh about it and remember it together.
2. Traveling with a 3 year old it’s also going to be exhausting.
Think mind and body. Since your toddler is probably like an energizer bunny at home, expect this level of energy to come with you in your travels too. Traveling with a 3 year old is going to be straight up exhausting and knowing so in advance will help you prepare for it, but most of all, it’ll help you accept that it’s happening.
Expect the normal body aches from carrying everything (including your now heavier kid), and also expect to use more brain power to answer all the questions that will come hand in hand with the new experiences (more on this on #6)
3. It’ll actually be easier compared to when they were 2.
Because now they can actually understand WHAT IS GOIN’ ON! And, although that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll listen to you, it’ll open up a whole new level of “negotiation” when things get challenging 😆 Try to explain to a 2 year old that he’ll need to sit in his car seat for 3 more hours until you arrive at your Airbnb? Mmm…I don’t know but, hey! Tell your 3 year old that you’ll go see dinosaur bones at the museum if he eats his breakfast? Aha! Progress 😉
4. Your 3 year old will be a lot of support if you have other kids.
Big sisters and brothers in full effect! Traveling with your 3 year old will be an amazing opportunity for you to start “delegating” some tasks when your hands are full with smaller kids. That little backpack you carry all the time? Well, guess who’s the lucky person in charge now? haha JK (kinda’)
For real though, the moment you travel with 2, you’ll start appreciating how much your older kid can do with very little direction and that will help you alleviate your load. Who can grab the toy you forgot in the other room? The 3 year old. Who can keep baby from rolling off the Airbnb bed while you take a flash bath? The 3 year old. Who can make baby laugh when he cries the entire roadtrip? THE 3 YEAR OLD! 💜
5. You’ll struggle with the meals, a lot!
Oh yeah, what can I say. You’ll probably miss the days when your child could survive on milk and banana puree, but the truth is that with every passing year comes new feeding struggles too -for s̶o̶m̶e̶ most moms-. Since having a picky 3 year old eater is super common, there’s a very high chance you’ll have to deal with it when traveling.
The very very best news for you is that your kid not wanting to eat will have nothing to do with the travel and everything to do with the age, so keep trying and if possible, stick to the foods with less chance of rejection. You got this!
6. You’ll have to answer more questions.
And isn’t that the beauty of bringing your children to see the world with you? I guess the hard part will be to realize that you may not have the answers to every question that travel will provoke but trust me mama, you’ll know what to say for each moment. By asking questions your kids make sense of every new thing that comes their way and at 3 years old, there will be a lot of things that catch their attention! When you travel with your kids, expect to receive all sort of questions but be specially prepared to answer questions about different skin colors, different ways of living, religion, war, love, languages, etc.
7. There’ll be magic everywhere.
And you’ll get to come for the ride =) You know, I love family travel a lot but, one of the things I love the most about it is that by traveling with my kids, I get to see the world straight from their eyes and let me tell you, it’s full of magic and it’s full of excitement! 3 years old is such a fun age because even though your little ones are more independent, they still see things with so much wonder. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cactus, flying birds or a rainbow. When you see your kid’s eyes as they joyfully point for you to look at something new, take an extra second to feel the magic too.
8. You’ll unleash a little traveling 3 year old collector.
And the best places to let your little collector go wild will be anywhere outdoors! Aside from letting them explore freely, they’ll get to interact with different environments, learn, play and maybe even stay away from screens for a long period of time. Travel has shown me how much my daughter loves collecting rocks, leaves and sticks. Did I tell you she loves dinosaurs? Well, she pretends the rocks are dinosaur eggs. How cool is that!
Kids are natural explorers and when you travel with them you expose them to things they may want to save. Like little travel souvenirs. If the space allows, and if these are all kid safe things, I say let them collect away =)
9. You’ll need to get even more creative with your photos.
If you were already struggling with photographing your kids while traveling, boy will you need to use even more creativity now. During a recent trip, one my daughter’s favorite activity was to photo-bomb our pics but when we tried to take one with her, she would refuse to look up ha! Well, we still managed to take some photos of and with her (as you’ve seen in this article) by using some tips:
- When you get to a new place, let your kids explore and try to take photos of them just doing what they naturally feel like doing.
- Don’t push the “look to the camera” request. Laugh with them, kiss them and take photos of moments instead of staging poses.
For more resources on Family Travel Photography, check out my 5 Day Family Travel Photo Challenge! With one challenge a day for 5 days straight, you’ll learn my best secrets for taking beautiful, candid and full of emotion travel photos of you and your family. Check it out right here.
And that’s it mama! That’s a summary on some of the things I’ve learned this year while traveling with my 3 year old. I wish you tons of fun and tons of new experiences, as you too travel the world with your kids.
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