When we had one child, we tried to take him to see as much as we could, though for him, it was more day trips than trans-continental voyages. When he was six we took him abroad for the first time, to France and the U.K. When he saw the Eiffel Tower, Mona Lisa, and Big Ben, he was hooked. We didn’t want to deprive him, or ourselves, of the adventures provided by travelling to which he had become accustomed just because two more babies were joining our family. We knew that raising twins and incorporating them into our lifestyle would be a challenge, though at the time, we had no idea how challenging it would be.
We have for the past twenty two months continually re-evaluated the way we travelled with our twins. We very quickly realized that if we truly wanted to take our kids with us around the world, the babies would be doing so in a back pack. We have taken the twins to all kinds of places on our backs that we never could have in a stroller, and there are still many more places we want to go that just are not possible with a stroller.
In the early days, the twins slept more, were pretty quiet, and were content chilling in a carrier during long days away from home. A little over a year ago, Baby #1 learned to walk at the Hilton in the shadow of Wembley Stadium and neither has stopped since.
Fast forward a year and they only take a short nap now and again, and have the needs and desires of growing children. Both toddlers are talking and can ask, or in many cases scream, for what they want. They are no longer content to be in a back pack all day being hauled around. They want to move and explore, which is a nice break from having 30 pounds on your back, but not so great when you want to see a great art masterpiece you have wanted to see your entire life and they run in opposite directions.
Travelling is an adventure that is all about adapting, learning, and trying new things. Perhaps we are not hitchhiking across India without any idea where our next meal is coming from, but we are hauling three kids up mountains, through ancient capitals, and deciphering menu’s written only in Greek with picky eaters. In other words, the adventure of travel is relative to one’s situation.
Our new adventure will be allowing the twins more time to explore the places we travel free from the confines of a baby carrier. Our baby carriers have become like our well-worn, battle tested, suits of armour. They have served as baby transportation, a place to nap, as a day bag, as a diaper bag, and used to strap children to numerous restaurant chairs in place of high chairs. Now with our toddlers, we need to adapt or give up travelling and learn to enjoy stay-cations for a few years.
We will also be turning to an old nemesis of mine, the stroller, in the future more and learning how to incorporate it into our travels. We will be heading to Austria and Germany in a few weeks and now face questions like, how do we fit a double stroller, luggage, three car seats, and five people into a European sized rental car? How will we navigate the stairs in Berlin U-Train stations, or at home in London tube stations for that matter, with a double stroller that weighs close to 100 pounds fully loaded with babies? How will we hike abandoned castles in Austria with toddlers? Can one adult take the luggage while the other manages the stroller and all the while someone needs to keep an eye on an inquisitive eight year old?
This transition period will be the greatest challenge we have faced yet with regards to travelling with our kids. We will still take carriers with us for those places that are just not accessible with a stroller, like hiking in abandoned castle ruins in the Austrian Alps, but we will also give them a little more leeway to explore on their own where we can. Sadly, because there are two of them, and they are runners, we may have to leash them up as well. (Another thing I thought that would never be us, until we had kids.)
For all the drawbacks and accessibility issues that depending on a stroller have, there are definitely some advantages as well. It is an easier place for disgruntled little ones to nap. As well, gone are the days where we need to stop at an overpriced restaurant, or eat yet another McLunch, just because they have high chairs or are child friendly. We can now just grab some street food or a sandwich and all eat on the move. (BTW it is also a whole lot easier on mom and dad’s bodies than carrying a baby on your back for twelve hours a day for a couple weeks.)
In a lot of ways, our travels are becoming more challenging, but they are likely going to start to get even more rewarding as well. As much as I have always hated strollers because of where they can’t go, we will now start a new quest to incorporate using a stroller in our travel repertoire.
I would love you hear about any experiences you had with mobility and taking kids around the world in strollers. Share your comments below.