Petra, Jordan

Prioritizing Travel in Your 20s & 30s

The ‘Before Kids’ and ‘After Kids’ Lists

We’re just hitting the tail end of the wedding wave that hits all couples in their late twenties. We have 10+ weddings this year — plus our own! — and next year begins to taper off slightly. Next topic of discussion? Babies. Sure, some couples will have had kids in their early 20s and some will choose not to have them at all, but generally babies become the next wave of things that happen in our lives.

When we’ve had those baby talks, we’ve been talking in terms of travel (naturally). Like many other wanderlusts out there, we have a list a mile long with a slew of places that rank high on our list. From Laos, Cambodia and Nepal to Chile and Croatia, we’re covering the spectrum in terms of luxury vs. adventure travel. Now, when it comes to prioritizing those travels — a hard task, to be sure — babies help draw this invisible line in our travel schedule.

Everyone’s timeline is different, of course, but we’d like to think we’ll revisit the baby convo in 3 – 5 years which really means we have 3 – 5 years of traveling with only our personal preferences in mind. This is a huge thing to factor in. Now, that’s not to say that when you have kids you can’t go to far-flung locales (I plan on traveling extensively with little ones in tow), but I do think that your traveler profile changes when babies come into the picture. You need somewhat family-friendly destinations — especially when they’re little tots — and probably want a locale where there are activities or sights to keep kids engaged.

The ‘Before Kids’ List

Machu Picchu, Bucket List Trips,

Our ‘Before Kids’ list involves more adventure travel. That trip to Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos? We could probably do that with kids, but definitely not with tiny ones and I don’t think we can do it in the way that we’d be able to do it now, as childless, able-bodied twenty-somethings. Another one that ranks high for us is an African safari. Now, I 100% think that taking kids on a Safari in Kenya or Tanzania would be an incredible family experience, but I don’t think that I would take my kids until they’re old enough to really grasp and appreciate what’s happening (probably 12+). If that’s the case, that means I’ll be waiting a long time to go. My thoughts: go now, without kids, and experience it with whatever luxury — or lack thereof — that comes our way. We can go back in 15 years and revisit the experience with kids. Others that top my no kids list? Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet.

The ‘After Kids’ List

When I think about traveling with kids, I don’t necessarily think that it limits where you can go, but I do think you have to be more cognizant of keeping kids engaged. I’m fortunate in that Scott and I are on the same page when it comes to travel — we both find it a worthy expense and see it as a valuable tool in a larger educational arsenal. With our ‘After Kids’ list, we’ve sort of compartmentalized that into two sections: little tykes (sub-8 years old); ‘older’ kids who can actually digest what they’re seeing (8+). Mind you, I don’t have kids so those ages are kind of arbitrary though probably pretty accurate.

The battle that I have is with really young kids. Are they really understanding what they’re seeing at a young age, and are they getting as much out of a cultural experience as they could at a slightly older age? With little ones, I tend to think that places with engaging activities are key. Cabo, Hawaii, beach getaways. We’ve seen couples in Anguilla toting their little tykes, hanging with them in the pool and building sandcastles together on the beach. Once or twice during their trip, they’ll hire a babysitter to give them an adult night where they can enjoy a nice dinner a deux. This seems to be the perfect arrangement for all parties involved. Resorts that offer babysitting services make traveling with little ones a heck of a lot easier when it  comes to enjoying a few evening activities.

Now, I think traveling with older kids really opens up a whole new world of experiences. When they’re old enough to really understand what they’re seeing, it’s a whole new ball game. That’s when I think those trips to Paris, to Rome, to Tanzania, to Southeast Asia, etc. make even more sense. At that point, kids are learning about these things in school and providing a real life brush with what they’ve read about in books gives history, anthropology and demography a much richer twist.

So, all of that being said, we’re spending the next few years focusing on trips that we may not be able to do as fully or as well with kids in tow. For people that already have kids, how do you think they’ve affected the way that you travel and the types of trips that you go on?

Shannon Kircher, The Wanderlust Effect

More about Shannon Kircher

Shannon Kircher is the founder and editor of The Wanderlust Effect, formerly The Traveling Scholar. Founded in 2009, she has continued to document her international escapes as an expat in Europe and the Caribbean. She is a former resident of London and San Francisco and now calls the island of Anguilla home. In addition to The Wanderlust Effect, Shannon is the Director of Marketing for the Frangipani Beach Resort and is on the Board of Directors of the Omololu International School in Anguilla.