Travelling as a family can be tricky. Luckily, for those of us with a need to explore, it’s not impossible. It just takes a shift in mindset from the way you may have thought about travel as a single person.
Travel experts Nicole and Cam Wears of Traveling Canucks are the perfect example of how to travel with kids. Together, they travel around the world with their two young boys. It’s taught them a lot about what it means to travel as a unit, as well as loads about themselves and what they should or shouldn’t do or expect when they’re on the road. They believe it’s possible to have it all — build a career, grow a family, and travel the globe!
So, we asked them eight questions about exactly how they do it. Their thoughtful stories and advice will inspire you to travel more with your family and balance it all.
1. Everyone’s story is unique. Can you tell us a bit about how you came to be an expert in travelling?
We consider ourselves very fortunate to have travelled to over 75 countries and territories together in the past 15 years, fulfilling many of our life goals and dreams along the way.
Travel is a common passion that has always played an important role in our lives. Our exposure to travel began at young ages, with Cam living in Nairobi, Kenya at age 12 and Nicole backpacking Europe at age 19. After living in Malaysia in 2004 and exploring most of Southeast Asia, we got bitten by the travel bug and have continued to make travel an important part of our lives, even after having kids.
Ten years ago we started Traveling Canucks after we finished an around-the-world tour. Our travel blog has evolved over the years and now the goal of our blog is simple – to share our family travel stories from around the globe and in our beautiful backyard, with the hope that it will inspire others to travel more and help our readers plan the big adventure they’ve been dreaming about.
2. Travelling can be hard. Can you please share any growth moments or revelations you’ve experienced while travelling?
Traveling as a family has taught us a lot! We’ve learned about us and our boys. It’s also taught us many things we shouldn’t do when travelling with young kids. A few of our key lessons learned while travelling with young kids are:
1) Don’t try to replicate the way you used to travel before having children. Things are different now, so try not to squeeze too many activities or sightseeing into one day.
2) To ensure everyone gets a good night’s sleep, it’s best to find accommodations that have separate sleeping areas.
3) Jet lag is real – especially with kids. Plan for the worst, hope for the best!
We have a story with more information about this topic. For a list of our top 10 lessons learned for family travel, you can find it here.
3. Do you have any guidance for those wanting to travel more? Perhaps some preparation, tools, or mindset suggestions?
Travel with kids, especially young kids, can be seem daunting. But, the more you travel with them, the easier it gets. They’ll learn what to expect and what’s expected of them during the trip.
Both our boys flew for the first time at three months old. We went to Palm Springs both times. We chose Palm Springs because it was an easy two-hour flight from Vancouver and it didn’t involve a time change. We then worked up to Europe with our oldest son when he was eight months old.
By taking smaller trips with him prior, we felt mostly prepared for travelling with him through Europe.
4. What are some things you can’t — or won’t — travel without?
1) We try to capture a lot of our trip and experiences in pictures and video. So we always bring our camera and GoPro with us.
2) We also always bring our tablets. They provide entertainment for our kids on long car rides and flights. We download Netflix movies and shows before we leave home, so we don’t need to rely on having wi-fi on the road.
3) Our kids can’t travel without their puppies (aka stuffies). It would be a disaster if they got left behind so they are one of the first items to be packed in their travel suitcases.
4) We always bring kids Tylenol, Advil, Benadryl, and Kaopectate. When you need them, you’ll be happy that you brought them. If you aren’t sure what your kids need, talk to a Pharmacist you trust.
5. What about items people tend to pack but don’t need? What are a couple things people should NOT travel with?
We are getting better, but we always tend to pack more clothes than we actually need. One question that we now always ask ourselves is: At any point will we have access to a washer and dryer? If our answer is yes, then we halve the amount of clothes that we intended to bring.
Another question to ask is about car seats. Do you need a car seat with you? In some cases, you do. But if you’re going to an all-inclusive, it’s possible you may not need a car seat.
6. How do you decide what to pack, and what not to pack?
It depends on where you’re going, but the one thing that we do is we pick clothing that is versatile.
For example, a pair of jeans or a pair of black leggings can be worn with most tops. I recently became an ambassador for a Canadian travel clothing company called Fig Clothing, and now most of my travel wardrobe is from Fig. It’s comfy, stylish, and versatile, which is exactly what I look for when travelling.
Another tip is to start packing a week before you leave. This gives you time to think about what you actually need. If you pack the night before leaving, you’ll likely add way more items than you actually need.
7. For folks looking to skip the baggage carousel with just a carry-on, what advice or hacks do you have about travelling light?
We like using packing cubes to help organize our clothes because it separates our items (shirts, pants, and underwear, etc.). We’ve found that it has helped us be more organized by having a dedicated space for certain items, and we pack less and more carefully. Plus, it’s a lot easier to find your clothes when you arrive at your destination.
We mentioned it before, but we also try to book a place where you can wash your clothes part way through the trip. This will allow you to bring less.
8. What are a few unconventional, surprising, or quirky suggestions you have to pack like a pro?
We always bring a separate bag full of food and snacks, especially when we are flying. You may think that you can’t bring food with you on a plane, but you can! Just stay away from fruit and meat. Our youngest has an allergy to dairy and eggs so we are always planning ahead when it comes to food, but it’s a really handy tip for any travelling families.
We always include snacks, like crackers and chips. A few unconventional items that we bring are instant oatmeal and Mr. Noodles that come in individual containers because all you need is hot water. We also like to bring small cereal pouches and plastic bowls and spoons. Our kids can choose to eat the cereal plain, or we ask for milk and they can have a bowl of cereal. For our son with the dairy allergy, we bring rice milk with us and declare it at the airport when we go through security.
Pro tip: especially when you’re flying, don’t expect the airlines to have food for your kids. We bring our own food for the trip so they can eat when they are hungry.
Cam & Nicole Wears are a Canadian couple with two young boys, who choose to make travel a priority. They believe it is possible to build a career and family AND travel the globe and follow your passions. Their blog is where they share their travel stories and tips they learn while balancing travel, work, and family. Learn about their story here, or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.
For additional tips on how to pack like a pro, or for travel insurance, drop by your local London Drugs and talk to any of our in-store experts.