Pros and cons of traveling with young children

Trip Start Aug 29, 2005
Trip End Aug 01, 2006

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Flag of United Kingdom  ,
Saturday, April 1, 2006

(from our perspective obviously)

Not as adventurous as some who head off into the desserts and jungles of Africa or 4 x4 across continents or move their family to a completely different country and culture, but daring enough for this journey. Here are some of our thoughts, feelings, sightings, experiences. For those of you who might be interested......

Train travel through eastern Europe with a 3 ˝ (oh sorry - almost 4) year old and a 2 year old.....

PRO: Allows for extensive review of playgrounds in 5 different countries. Bulgaria and Romania win for keeping parents at 150% attention for loose boards on wobbly bridges; exposed screws and nails; uneven ground ideal for face plants; wonder brilliant gymnasts come from this area - balance technique starts early. France and Glasgow win for peaceful free play.

PRO: Children draw attention, friendly faces, and conversation. Especially with the initially dour faced Bulgarian and Romanian border police - even they can be made to smile when children ask to see their passport stamper with the train design.

CON: Children don't carry their own bags! And seem to require more than their parents.

PRO/CON: Might be much easier to travel if children are completely toilet trained/propre. Mind you, it gives you an exercise in language skills and public transport when trying to find diapers - i.e. a jaunt 5km out of the centre of Prague to find a 'department store' that carries them as all the little mini marts in the centre do not carry diapers. Luckily sizes and kg range is universal. However, it is also perfectly acceptable to pull down the pants of children to pee.....wherever. And the hunt for public toilets can be as time consuming as finding diapers!

CON: Short children like ours will develop callouses on their knees from having to sit at the table on their knees - last high chair seen in Prague! Mind you, this is where the last topic becomes a pro - a package of diapers doubles as a fantastic booster seat ...and is waterproof for all the soup slitters.

PRO: Train travel and accommodations often........... for under 4 year olds is FREE! And in March - more often than not we had a compartment to ourselves or at least extra seats in the open wagon/car style trains. In May-Sept, it probably means children are on your knees. Another pro - when people are looking for seats on the train - one look at our crew and they continue in their search!

CON: Smoke free zones. This is where our ethnocentric canadianism shines through. Impossible to find smoke free areas - cafés, restaurants, B&B's, even No Smoking trains means no smoking in the compartment but go right ahead in the train aisle! But Glasgow goes smoke free on 26 March 2006! Bang on time.

CON?: Museums - a solo venture, if at all. Churches - can get quiet from the children long enough to wander through and marvel. Oh well, we have 'done' museums before...and will again.

PRO: Get to see the day begin in new locations by 0600 or earlier - sunrise over Prague - beautiful. In addition, the down time in the afternoon when the children still sleep for 2 hours - time for that solo museum visit or a wander or a nap or ....

PRO: They are the excuse to try new pastries and chocolates and ice cream....

CON: Long train journeys (more than 5 hours) are even longer for them. Thank goodness for night trains (very well tolerated), play dough, crayons, and those friendly travelers who like to entertain and be entertained.

PRO: Willing little helpers to visit the boulangerie or market. Especially when the eldest child is far too observant of life in the streets...and decides to stand in the market place with his hand outstretched....and is rewarded with a lovely fresh apple!!! A beggar is born. Luckily it was from the woman who owned the next stall and not just a passerby.

So all in all, it would appear to be (and was) a positive experience and hope to have more in the years to come.
The obvious - get to expose kids to something new, not affecting their school careers!, we still get to travel...albeit a different style of travel, learn to say hello and goodbye in a few languages just so you can be more confused as you go over the next border...

We had fun.............
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