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You’ll Never Walk Alone

I’ve often thought of writing a series of travel books called, “Have Kid. Will Travel.” Why? I’m glad you asked. While I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a jet setter, I have done a bit of globetrotting in my day. But, whether hitting the cobblestone streets of London solo or kayaking with friends atop the second largest barrier reef in the world, I rarely take my son along for the ride. Still, he’s never been very far from my mind on my travels, and there are plenty of trips I’d like to retake with him.

Now, I know thinking of him while petting a nurse shark or halfheartedly planning vacation do-overs isn’t going to win me any mother of the year awards, but I’ve finally realized just because you have a kid doesn’t mean you can’t travel – and thoroughly enjoy it to boot! This summer, during a mother-son weekend in Baltimore, I finally proved the “Have Kid. Will Travel.” mentality while catching our favorite sports team play stateside (in the sake of full transparency, this wasn’t our first vacation together … just the first one without the family along for mental support).

The trip to see Liverpool FC play on this side of the pond was supposed to be an inexpensive, stay with family, sort of affair, but it turned into quite a luxurious (and budget-busting) weekend when said family members were offered their dream jobs and moved 3,000 miles cross country days before we were due to arrive. Don’t get me wrong … we were (and still are) thrilled for them, but it meant a mad scramble for us. How did my son react? Well, he rolled with the punches.

And that, my friends, brings me to what I learned about traveling with kids while in Baltimore. As parents, we don’t give them enough credit. We’re so busy worrying about all the trouble they might get into that we often forget what they bring to the table:

1. Kids are flexible. Sure, you have to be flexible when traveling with kids but that goes for traveling with just about anyone. The truth is, my son dealt with the change of plans far better than I did … and he didn’t even need any anti-anxiety medication to do it.

2. Kids are resilient. I learned this while sweating through my tank top like a 300-pound gorilla as we waited for the starting whistle of the Liverpool game at Ravens stadium (which was clearly not intended for summer sports). Guess who didn’t complain one time? That’s right. My son.

3. Kids are funny. The Liverpool game just happened to fall on the same weekend as an annual anime convention called Otakon (probably why there weren’t any hotels for under $700 a night). I was annoyed by the army of geeks. My son? Couldn’t stop firing off one-liners.

4. Kids are brave. Who knew the Edgar Allen Poe cemetery would be the creepiest one I’ve ever visited (and I’ve visited a lot). Okay, maybe anyone who’s ever read one of his stories. Still, the ick factor didn’t phase my son at all, and (shhh…) he even let me hold his hand.

5. Kids are happy. When it comes right down to it, kids really just want to be with you – even if it means you have to share a bed because there are no double rooms left in town. Just be prepared to build a pillow barricade down the center of the bed. Then, don’t cross it.

At the end of the day, there are a million reasons why traveling with your kids can be an enlightening and inspiring experience. Sure, they may get into some trouble along the way, but there’s really nothing like a child’s sense of wonder at new experiences (even if that child is a cynical 14-year-old). You never know … it just may help you see old places with new eyes too.

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