Why “Easy” Travel Options Aren’t Always the Best- a Rebuttal to CNNGo “5 Rules of Traveling With Kids”

Last Updated on February 12, 2017 by Jody Halsted

With the wealth of good family travel advice available online it is painful when bad advice is given a position of authority.

Hiking in Eureka Springs, Arkansas
Hiking in Eureka Springs

As a family travel blogger I, with many others, share advice for great family travel, tips for making it easier and attempt to inspire families to venture out with their young ‘uns; to push their boundaries, if you will, and explore the world around them.  So it is incredibly frustrating when a reputable publication like CNNGo discounts the wealth of first-hand information available and publishes an article with the keyword title ‘hard truth about traveling kids its hell‘.

Family Rambling’s 5 Rules of Traveling With Kids

1) Take only the necessities; everything else is just stuff.  Of course you want to take your child’s favorite stuffed animal, but that is no reason to haul along half a dozen books and a small toy chest.  Children are incredibly adaptable- no matter their age.  If your children are in diapers take enough to get you to your destination + a few extra in case of delays.  You can buy more when you arrive.  If you really don’t want to purchase toiletries, consider shipping items ahead to save on the amount of luggage you’re toting through the airport.  To really maximize your packing space, invest in a few Space Bags.

2) Jet Lag Affects Everyone. Sure, a young child is likely to voice their opinion a bit more forcefully than an adult, but that doesn’t mean it affects them more.  My advice- let your child take a short nap.  If you’ve traveled far enough to experience jet lag you’ve probably planned a rather light first day.  Take it easy, let the young ones nap in the car or stroller, or even take a short rest at the hotel.  Though, in my experience, children sleep far better on flights than adults do; you may be surprised at how little jet lag affects them!

Lunch at Joe T Garcia's, Fort Worth
Enjoy the local cuisine

3) Experience the Local Cuisine. One of the greatest adventures of vacation is tasting local favorites.  Black Pudding?  Love it!  Bangers & mash?  Awesome.  Paella, beignets, buttered eggs?  Bring it on!   I have found that if you don’t tell a child they won’t like something they will, more often than not, try it and enjoy it.  Most menus will have something your child will eat, even if it’s not that adventurous.  And if not…  There’s another meal later- and probably a snack in between.  It doesn’t take an “abnormally educated palate” to appreciate good food.

4) Stop Trying to Entertain Your Kids All the Time.  Of course you want to have some entertainment for the flight, but over stimulating your child will only keep them awake and relying on you.  In my experience children under 9 months will sleep well on planes- especially with a full tummy.  For toddlers a few small, quiet toys, a pen and paper, clean snacks, and movies or games on a tablet will be plenty.  Children a bit older will do well with a coloring or activity book, a few action figures and an electronic game or tablet.  

Once your child is walking let them tote their own carry on- either a rolling backpack or fun Trunki ride on suitcase.  Let them help you pack a few activities, snacks and a favorite cuddle buddy.  By giving your child responsibilities and a say in the packing you are creating a good traveler; one who will want to impress everyone with how “grown up” they are.

Cold, Wet Day at Cliffs of Moher
Steep Walkways + Rain in Ireland = Saved by the Stroller!

5) Strollers are the Best Thing Ever for Traveling Families. That said, I don’t recommend traveling with the Cadillac version- which will not only be damaged in the underbelly of the plane, but will also be too cumbersome in all but the most modern cities.  Instead invest in a light umbrella-type stroller with sun shade and/or rain shield (should you be going someplace rainy) and a spacious basket.  We actually miss the stroller now that our girls have outgrown it- we actually have to carry bags and tote backpacks.  In case you do have kids young enough for strollers, try these exclusive Amazon promotional codes and save money on strollers, as well as any other things you might need on your trip.

6) Young Minds Absorb So Much. While I have nothing against amusement parks or all inclusive resorts I think it is a shame the author determined that those are the only “kids friendly” travel choices.  Sure, it takes more work and slows you down.  But what your family gains as you slow down and experience your travels is priceless- and it just might improve your child’s education.

As I mentioned earlier in this post, there are so many incredible family travel bloggers out there who share their knowledge about traveling with families in tow.  I invite you to visit them as we all come together to inspire more families to travel- together!

A King’s Life: The Surprisingly Easy Truth of Traveling with Kids

The “Secret” to Traveling with Children by Susan W

Debunking cnn’s rules for traveling with kids by Mary @Bohemiantravelers

How Do you Travel with Children? by Alisa @ Living Outside of the Box

5 Rules of Travel With Kids: A Traveling Child Responds by Jennifer Miller

CNN’s Ridiculous Rules About Travel With Kids by Corinne at Have Baby Will Travel

Shocking Tips on Traveling with Kids That Went Unnoticed…It is Time to Demystify The Five Rules of Traveling with Kids by Claudia Looi

5 Amazing Reasons To Travel With Your Kids

French fries and chicken nuggets are travel essentials: The worst family travel advice ever by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

More Than French Fries by lisa Shusterman

Rules are What You Make Them: Paving Your Own Way Through Family Travel by Jessica @Suitcases and Sippy Cups

 CNNGo Five Rules of Travelling With Kids Are You For Real

Myths, NOT rules, of traveling with kids by Kate Rehkopf, Experiential Family

My Reality (Not Rules) When Traveling with Kids by Keryn Means/Walkingon Travels

Forget the Rules of Travel – Try Backpacking with Kids in Yellowstone National Park by Sandra Foyt

5 Rules of Traveling with kids NOT to Follow

Worst Family Travel Advice I’ve Ever Read by Gabi Klaf @The Nomadic Family.com

In case you do have kids young enough for strollers, try these exclusive Amazon promotional codes and save money on strollers, as well as any other things you might need on your trip.

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  1. “Stop trying to entertain your kids all the time” AMEN. The best fun is the fun they make themselves!! Nice rebuttal!

  2. It’s funny, we bring a ton of stuff with us to entertain our kids. My baby never even looks at it. I have now learned the best toys for him is what is around. And my oldest, with a DS and a DVD player, never looks at them. He too entertains himslef without anything.

  3. Great post! I totally agree, especially regarding food. My daughter will choose things like spicy Thai food, tofu, or mushrooms over hot dogs and hamburgers every time.

  4. Great answers to all of these myths about traveling with kids! You make traveling kids seem easy and fun, just as it should be.

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  6. I so hate the idea that these articles in the mainstream press are taken as authoritative. And this one is just especially insulting!

  7. Loved this statement: “if you don’t tell a child they won’t like something they will, more often than not, try it and enjoy it”

    If we let them, kids will usually surprise us, even when they’re picky eaters. I have an ultra picky eater that recently decided she likes lentil soup! She NEVER would have eaten it at home, but because she wasn’t, she tried it and loved it. Always great to let them try local cuisine!

  8. I love how you simply said “Stop Trying to Entertain Your Kids All the Time”. Exactly one of the things that parents today have a hard time with! My kids are constantly begging me to entertain them, but in my generation, I entertained myself! What is it that has changed? Probably the access to constant entertainment (tv, etc)!

  9. You have such a wealth of knowledge about travellng with children! Love the idea of “Stop Trying to entertain your kids all of the time” – we let our boys make their own fun!

    The stroller is so good for carrying things, and for pushing a little one in….we so missed that as well 🙂

    Our boys are so good with trying new food – they will eat anything!

    The CNNGO article sure got my back up – surely it was only a joke!!!



  10. Now these are rules of travel that clearly demonstrate family travel experience, as well as the love of travel itself.

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