Traveling with Kids is Fun – or Not

Following is a guest blog post by the grand matriarch of Insider Families, Lavelle Carlson. She shares her experiences as an expat traveling with kids, managing fears and handling of circumstances that could not have been foreseen. Some of these memories were recently brought back during a visit with her grandchildren in snowy Colorado. She doesn’t know this yet, but we are anticipating another post to come from her soon on travels to Kenya with kids and missing luggage. Perhaps after that she will tell us about chaperoning a group of kids back from a summer camp in Switzerland immediately following a visit to a Swiss chocolate factory where there was no limitation on the amount of chocolate the kids could consume.

Memories of Traveling with Kids

Visiting my grandkids in Colorado brought back memories of our family travels, and watching my daughters do some of the same activities their children now do in Colorado.

My family was very lucky that we had the opportunity to move from the U.S. and live overseas for ten years; nine of those were in Norway. I say lucky because we had so many opportunities to experience different cultures and enjoy experiences that would not have been available to us in the U.S.

Traveling with kids to the Red Cross cabin in Sirdal, Norway was always a bit terrifying.
Traveling with kids to the Red Cross cabin in Sirdal, Norway was always a bit terrifying.

When the children were young we spent each Thanksgiving and Christmas at an old Red Cross cabin in Sirdal, Norway with several families. The mountains were covered with snow and the lakes were frozen.

We would depart from Stavanger, Norway for a lengthy drive on narrow, snow-covered roads. Not only were the roads narrow but there was also a precipitous drop of several thousand feet into the valley below. This was a very uncomfortable drive for a mother who had spent her childhood in East Texas with no hills to speak of. I was terrified of heights. Looking down over the road edge where I was unable to see anything but snow and rocks was a bit terrifying. How could I convince my Swedish husband from “Minnesnowta” that I could not participate in these adventures? Well, I did not. I was never able to overcome my fears but I managed to function in spite of them.

The kids building a snow fort at the Red Cross cabin in Sirdal, Norway, many years ago.

To this day I feel it was the compulsion to see that our daughters gained experience through travel that had never been afforded to me as a child that helped me gain the confidence to take on some of these adventures.

Back to the trip to the Red Cross Cabin: We would travel these roads in the dark. Of course, almost any time of the day in Norway during the winter is dark due to its position in the north. My youngest daughter, about 8 years of age began to fuss that she needed to go potty. What does a mother do when it is dark and there are huge snowdrifts alongside the road? She had her husband stop the car. She gets her daughter out. She holds said daughter closely. She carefully puts one foot into the snow on the side of the mountain to ensure there was solid footing. Then she carefully does the same with the other foot. Then she squats while holding her daughter out to allow her to “go potty”. This story may not make for a pretty visual, but it is an example of something that can be necessary when traveling with children.

We arrived at the cabin and had a great time with our friends. We were all enjoying ourselves talking, laughing and partying. The oldest daughter who was about twelve came in and asked if she could go riding on the lake. A young engineer had just purchased a new Mercedes and was taking all the young kids out for a ride on the ice. Well, I was too busy laughing and having fun that I really did not listen to her request. Then about 10 minutes later it occurred to me that I had answered in the affirmative to something that could be quite dangerous. I rushed out of the cabin and ran down to the river only to see her getting out of the car smiling. That was a good lesson to pay more attention to what my children were saying.

During this trip all the kids at the cabin spent the day playing in the snow creating tunnels and snow forts. They piled the snow and took water out to wet it to create a large igloo. I treasure these travel experiences that our daughters had in spite of my aversion to the unpleasant travel for me.

Building a snow fort for the kitties.

There were some worrisome things that I had to endure in traveling with children. But, there were so many more wonderful adventures.  It was the sight of my grandchildren playing in the snow recently in Colorado that brought back all these fond memories. They built (with the help of their grandfather, Poppies) a snow fort for their kitties. And, their kitty, Shadow, walked through the tunnel of the snow fort.

One of the kitties enjoying the snow fort.

Travel can often be difficult for the parents of young children. But what is important to remember, is that everyone is learning and creating memories and experiences for a lifetime. These experiences can shape who we are. Perhaps we develop an acceptance and appreciation for other cultures and views. Or, maybe we develop patience, resilience or the confidence to know that we can manage our fears. But, best of all, we spend memorable time together as a family.






Traveling with Kids is Fun – or Not

Liana Moore

Liana Moore is a third-culture kid with a hangover from those days that is a severe case of wanderlust. She is more comfortable driving the cliffs of Amalfi, Italy or the dirt roads of Costa Rica or attempting to decipher the street signs of Osaka, Japan than navigating the theme parks of Disney World. But she loves it all. She doesn't believe a vacation is complete without an adventure. Her husband and kids know well that "adventure" often is code for mishap or challenge and it usually results in a good story. They seek outdoor experiences whether in the mountains, on a beach or in the jungle of a tropical country. Her favorite vacation is... all the ones she hasn't yet taken, as well as those she plans on taking again. And, that list is so, so long. But she continues to extensively explore her home state of Colorado, spends lots of time wandering Texas, California, New Mexico, Costa Rica, Mexico, Norway and has even explored Kazakhstan.

One thought on “Traveling with Kids is Fun – or Not

  • April 17, 2017 at 6:23 pm

    What a great, insightful post! We won’t be having kids so I guess I’ll never know how it feels but as a kid, I know I was grateful that my parents let me travel with them! Thanks for joining Fly Away Friday, hope to see you again this weekend! xo


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