What´s like to travel with a 3-year old girl

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This is part of a series with other traveler families, where we talk about traveling with a child the age we have them. This was Mummy-T´s idea, from TravelsWithANineYearOld, and a bunch of us are joining the fun. You can find at the bottom of this post the other stories.

I have traveled with my daughter Luísa a lot since she was born. We visited family living away when she was a baby and traveled to 3 different countries so far: Chile, Italy and Costa Rica, where we are now spending 6 months (we are from Brazil). She just turned four 5 days ago, so during this last trip she was technically in her late threes.

The best things are that my daughter is not so little anymore as for me to be too restrained. I can now take her to a restaurant and let her play around while the food is not ready and I can somewhat trust that she won´t neither mess around too much nor break things. Not so long ago, having her in a restaurant meant that I´d stay half a meter from her and preventing her from doing stuff.

We can arrive in new places, new hostels and she is free to explore and walk around. She is not so dangerous to be left by herself for a little while.

Sleep time has proven to never be a problem. One of the fears we have before traveling is if it will be harder for our children to sleep without this thing or that ritual that that you only have at home. But no, a tiring day, a bath, pajamas, a story and a good back rubbing is all she needs anywhere we go. And this has been like that since she is 9 months (only that back than she also had breastfeeding).

The language learning happens so fast! We´re in Costa Rica for three months now and Luísa´s been attending a bilingual kindergarten (Spanish and English) for two months. Her English and Spanish are so developed already. I have been teaching her the languages myself prior to traveling, she could already understand a lot, but now I can see her actually speaking. Sometimes she makes a big mix and sometimes she is quite articulated. I have a few dialogues with her in the two new languages, and I can say she´s learning well. This may seem fast for us, but probably perfectly adjusted to a 3-4-year old intellectual development. It´s really cool to watch this going on.

Having her learn another language (or two other languages) was what pushed me to take this extended trip now, while she was still three. I knew this was about the best age for her to learn, so that´s why we are here. It´s also one of the reason´s of why I chose Costa Rica, because I knew it would be covering Spanish and English (we speak Portuguese at home). It´s a bit more expensive that I have planned, but it´s still doable for another few months.

I guess the only way to travel with some comfort with a young child is taking it slowly, taking time to explore a new place without any rush, staying in one area and getting to know it well.

I guess the only way to travel with some comfort with a young child is taking it slowly, taking time to explore a new place without any rush, staying in one area and getting to know it well.

This way, the child feels more at ease, adjusting to certain local routines, like eating a croissant in that café every morning or choosing a beach or park that the child likes best to go over and over. We end up meeting locals and making more friendships (both adults and children, usually other families).

The biggest disadvantages of traveling with a young child are not being able to let her with friends, or find a babysitter when needed, and so, in my situation, traveling alone means never having much time to socialize with others by myself.

I pretty much have her with me all the time, and she´s still as young as in to make me drop any conversation to intermediate a fight or prevent her from doing something messy or dangerous. It can get lonely sometimes, not having another adult to turn to for some listening time, to use bad words with, to laugh and have a drink without being on the clock, but after 3 months, I quite learned to be on my own and have fun anyway.

Being with a child all the time is quite challenging, at home or on the road. Sometimes being on the road makes this easier, like in having more novelty to entertain both you and the child and sometimes it makes it harder, as in not having a close friend to go and visit or the full equipped kitchen to cook together on a rainy day.

It always comes down to make us more creative, both parent and child. We have to think of ways to keep us busy, exploring, meeting other families (I love watching other styles of parenting on the road) and improvising with the materials at hand.

Here are the stories of the other families on the move:


Highs and Lows of Traveling with a Teen and a Tween by Wandermom

Take Your Child to Work by Globetrotting Mama

Traveling with children – which one to leave home? by Snaps and Blabs

Traveling with two children under 6 – insanity or a great idea? by Our Travel Lifestyle

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – Traveling Around the World with a 5-Year-Old by Eastside Curry

Why we love traveling with our daughter by Wandering Educators

Attack of the Asian Baby Snatchers by The Dropout Diaries

his article was originally posted on Tripping Mom by Marilia Di Cesare on April 28, 2011. Republished with authorization. Click here for all other posts.


My famous 3-year old is turning 4! Happy Birthday Luísa!

The right to be naked


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