I don’t have any kids, and one of my main interests in life is keeping it that way. So when I visited some friends in Wiesbaden recently, I was blown away by the fact that they travel all the time with their four kids: two girls aged seven and four, and two three-year old twin boys. I figured this would appeal to my parent readers who are sick of hearing me talk about drinking and watching people perform sex various acts. And it appeals to me, because I love getting drunk with parents, who only get the opportunity to do so once a month.
I hope this can inspire you to take your little ones and fly them to the ends of the earth. Because if you’re gonna sleep 5 hours a night anyway, you might as well do it in China. And if these guys can do it with four kids, you can, too.
So here goes:
GnomeTrotting: What’s the biggest challenge you face when you take your kids on vacation?
Dad: The thing that stressed you out the most is making sure you don’t lose them.
Mom: Yeah, like when we ride the subway we have a system; one of us goes first and one of us goes last. So no one gets left behind.
We do the same thing in elevators. Cause one time in Florida, we were in an elevator and the door opened, and one of them ran out but we stayed in the elevator. I had always told her “If you get lost, don’t move.” And she listened and sat down cross legged in front of the elevator door.
Dad: I think the biggest nightmare would be your kid getting injured in a foreign country or losing them. Like one time in London, they almost got hit by a car. We were at a crosswalk and she had already crossed with the girls, and I had the big stroller. But I was distracted looking at some building, and this guy dips through, almost hits the stroller and then he almost hits the girls on the other side of the road.
Mom: I had to pull the girls off the road cause he was going so fast. I probably could have broken her arm.
Dad: Yeah that was the worst trip. It was my least favorite.
Mom: But the kids had a good time on the trip. The London Eye was fascinating for them… the changing of the guards. It was harder on us than it was for them.
GT: So do you travel because you want to or because it’s important that they do?
Mom and Dad: Both. Definitely both.
Mom: We chose to come to Germany because we wanted to come to Europe and get to travel more. And for the kids to get that experience. It’s important for the kids to see different cultures. Being from Miami, you learn to love differed cultures. We wanted them to have a sense of that and be open to everybody.
Dad: Yeah, you have to start them young. And when you travel with kids, you make it into a learning event.
Mom: Yeah, if we’re learning something, I can be like, “Remember when you saw this and this?”
GT: Be honest. Do you prefer to travel by yourselves or with the kids?
Dad: I think it depends on where it is. When we went to Venice, we thought it would be complicated with the kids.
Mom: It’s harder traveling with the kids but there are some things that are awesome about traveling with them. And when they’re older, they’ll get to look back on all the things they’ve done.
Dad: I also think it’s good to have them in uncomfortable situations. It makes them better.
GT: What’s the biggest travel mishap you’ve had with your family on a trip?
Mom: We were going from Paris to Normandy and taking the trains. There’s assigned seats but no one gives a fuck.
Dad: And there was a train strike that weekend, so it was like a cattle truck. So we got to the train station, and we had two minutes to get to the train and we were running with our bags.
Mom: We couldn’t fit in our assigned carriage so we get in the first one we see. He had to fold the stroller, but he didn’t have time to fold it completely.
Dad: I was the last person to get on the train.
Mom: Sophia is screaming for daddy. The boys were crying cause they were so scared. All four of us are squished like sardines, and four or five people came to help pull the stroller inside cause the train was moving.
Dad: People were sitting on the floor, in the baggage area. No one was giving up their seat. So we stood by the bathroom and the kids were able to sit. Eventually, one of the train officials came by kicked the other people out of our seats.
GT: Your twins are basically real life minions. How do you keep a lid on them when you’re out in public in a strange country?
Mom: When they’re being crazy, I try to stay really calm and talk to them firmly and try to explain to them why they’re doing something wrong. If that doesn’t work, there’s always bribery.
GT: What’s the most aggravating thing your kids have ever done on vacation?
Dad: They don’t bother me that much. What’s pissed me off the most on trips is how other people treat people with kids. If they misbehave, they are corrected and they’re fine. But you sense a lot of unpleasant body language, like we’re gonna ruin their trip somehow. Some people say things.
Mom: Yeah, in restaurants, they’ll deny us because they see us with four kids. Tour guides have basically tried to convince us not to take the tour. One time in Heidelberg, the tour guide actually came up to us afterward to apologize because they were so well-behaved.
Dad: Though one time… at Disneyland, Allan had a shit explosion in his pamper. He meets Mickey, and then he shits on the chair.
Mom: I had to walk him to the bathroom and change him… fold up the shit clothes, in the hopes of salvaging. That’s an important thing: always take a change of clothes.
GT: Best location to take kids?
Mom: For the boys, I feel like Disneyland Paris was super memorable for them… how happy they were. They were in heaven.
Dad: I was thinking the same thing. It was their first time on a ride.
Mom: I also loved when we went to Neuschwanstein Castle. Because it was just fun for them and relaxing for us. Other than that, any big city. They always have different events going on. You can make it work anywhere really.
Dad: My favorite has been in Germany. I like Nuremberg and the Christmas markets.
GT: What’s your favorite thing about traveling with them?
Dad: You know how it’s so cool when you experience something new? Now imagine seeing something new while also watching your kids experience it for the first time.
Mom: I love to take pictures to remember all of our experiences. I would hope that the four of them would travel together one day to some of the places we went to together. And redo some of the travel pictures. I think it creates a bond not only for us, but for them.
GT: What’s one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had?
Dad: When we went to Legoland in Germany, Sophia did one of these games that everyone fails. It’s a stability ladder, and she climbed up to the top and rang the bell. There was a crowd watching her. And she won a huge minion.
Mom: Remember in that vacation? Our car broke down when we were supposed to drive to there. We had to look all over Germany to rent a tiny European van that cost $600, but we had to because our kids were ready to go to Legoland, so we had to go to Legoland. And we had to squeeze minion in there on the way back.
Dad: Yeah, you can’t change something that’s already happened. It’s happened. You have to just adjust and move. Like when we went to Neuschwanstein Castle, the tram was broken. I had to push a stroller up the castle in the rain.
GT: Was it worth it?
Dad: Yea it was worth it… you remember those things. Weird things happen. Like we stayed at a hotel next to the red light district in Munich by accident. We had to detour around a weird way whenever we walked back to the hotel so they wouldn’t ask questions.
GT: What’s the most inappropriate thing they’ve done?
Dad: We were eating breakfast at a hotel one morning, and some Middle Eastern women sit down in full hijab.
Mom: And Sophia is like “Mommy, look at the ninjas!” Or the first time she had seen somebody in a wheelchair. She was like look at that! And you just have to compose yourself. And have to tell them, he has no legs. You’re just hoping the other person understands cause you’re so embarrassed.
Dad: Or with homeless people. They give us the worst guilt trip if we don’t give them money. They’re such suckers.
GT: What advice do you give other parents who wanna travel with kids?
Mom: Don’t think you’re gonna be on a schedule. And be prepared if something does happen. Remember that even though you wanna see certain things, you have to do things your kids are gonna enjoy. Like in London, we went to the aquarium, which we wouldn’t have necessarily done on our own… to help them remember the trip also.
Dad: A lot of people think “Oh, we don’t know if we would be able to do what we do with kids.” You would, you just have to adjust.” 95% of the things you wanna do on a trip can be done with kids.
And what do the kids think of their parents’ tireless effort to show them the world?
GT: What do you like most about traveling with your parents?
Sophia, 7: They take us to a lot of cool places.
Juliana, 4: We get to do a lot of stuff, and we kinda have fun.
Alan, 3: House!
Andrew, 3: BANANA HAHAHHAH
GT: What’s your favorite place you’ve ever been to?
Juliana, 4: Paris, cause it’s where I got my first Beanie Boo. And cause we saw the Eiffel Tower.
GT: Where do you wanna go next?
Sophia, 7: Sofia.
GT: In Bulgaria?
Mom: Yeah, she has it marked on her map at home.
GT: I can’t believe you even know where that is.
But none of my probing questions could really help me understand just how meaningful it could be to travel with kids until I really saw it in action. I spent a week with them, seeing them deal with car sickness, games of make believe, trips to the bathroom, complaints. And when we were visiting the Lennon Wall in Prague, and their oldest daughter was being fussy, my friend pulled her aside and whispered in her ear, “Sophia, look at that wall. Look at all the beautiful things people have written here.” And they looked at all the messages of peace on the wall while she talked her down from her bad mood. I was incredibly moved by her ability to show her daughter that life is much bigger than the popped balloon she was pouting about. And therein lies the joy of traveling with kids.