A guest blog from Michelle Beesley – Writer and regular columnist for She Brisbane, mother of three sons and keen traveller.
I have travelled the world with my three sons. London, Paris, Edinburgh, Auckland, Wellington, Denver and The South of France are just some of the places we’ve visited when the boys were at all different ages and stages. Travelling with boys is always fun and strengthens the bonds within your family. You become a tight unit when you share new experiences and have to navigate airports, train stations, exotic cuisine and foreign languages. To avoid dramas and meltdowns here are a few of my top tips gleaned from many years of travelling trial and error.
Tips for Travelling with Boys
Keep them well fed
Never let your boys become hungry or thirsty. Make sure your partner is also aware of the signs that they’re ready for a drink or a bite to eat. Take your cues from the lads and schedule mealtimes a little earlier than you normally would, especially when you’ve just arrived in a country. In Scotland, the son who never sleeps, fell fast asleep with his head resting on the plate after one bite of his hamburger. The jet lag just hit him like a sledge hammer. He woke up in the middle of the night grumpy and starving. Also, have a few snacks in your handbag or backpack in case you are caught out away from shops and restaurants or at an inconvenient time. A hungry boy is a grumpy boy so ensuring your son is well fed and watered will make the trip more enjoyable for you all.
Keep them active
Schedule in some sports and activities. You might plan a full day of sightseeing at The Louvre followed by Musee d’ Orsay, but boys can usually only manage one cultural activity per day. Give them a bit of a run around in between. We still laugh about the day the boys needed a run and all dressed in shorts and rugby jerseys we trooped into Harrods to buy a rugby ball so the boys could have a kick around in Kensington Gardens. My English cousins have since told us that there is a dress code in Harrods but no-one dared to stop this crazy bunch of Aussies.
Visit familiar activites in unfamiliar surrounds
Find out where the locals go for outdoor activities before you leave home – be it parks and gardens, local swimming pools or playgrounds. In Paris, you can walk along the Seine River and find climbing frames, running tracks and hopscotch games. You’ll eventually get to where you’re going and the kids will have much more fun walking along here, saying, ‘Bonjour‘ to the locals walking their pampered pooches.
Travel with their interests in mind
Plan your holidays as a family around their interests. If your boys are readers there are plenty of literary tours or themed walking tours to do in every country. In Edinburgh do the Harry Potter tours or in New Zealand discover the wonderful ‘Lord of The Rings’ themed tours. Our boys play rugby union so every four years we go to the Rugby World Cup. It has become a wonderful family tradition and the boys are happy because they are doing something they love. Cultural experiences are interspersed with a few matches and we visit places we might not have gone to otherwise. The next World Cup is in Japan so we will once again be going somewhere new as a family.
Involve the boys in the planning
Involve the children in the holiday planning. If they’re old enough, have them research the places you are going to and make suggestions as to some of the activities you can do as a family. Sometimes you will need to overrule them. Our boys were not keen on going to Versailles, but absolutely loved it once we got there.
So, no matter where you’re travelling to, if you follow these tips there’ll be less fighting, fewer tantrums and much more fun and laughter. Travelling with boys will strengthen your bonds as a family, make them more resilient and more confident to handle different situations as they grow older and will foster a wonder in the world and its cultures. So, what are you waiting for? There’s a big wide world out there just waiting for you and your sons. Bon Voyage.