Last updated: 08:00 PM ET, Mon November 30 2015

5 Kinds of Parents That Travel

Features & Advice | Matt King | November 30, 2015

5 Kinds of Parents That Travel

Illustration by Matt Anderson

Traveling is great, but even the most seasoned globetrotter will admit that there are plenty of challenges involved. Add children to the mix and anything can and usually will happen. Really, traveling with kids should be an Olympic event. At the very least, it's more physically and mentally taxing than racewalking.

Not all parents are created equal, however. So when you run across a family in your travels, you can usually tell which category they fall in. Or, if you are a parent, you may see a bit of yourself in one or more of these.

The Overpackers

Symptoms: Injured backs, no free hands, and inability to find anything they're looking for.

These are usually newer parents. They overpack because they're still at a loss for what their kid wants or needs. They saw Tyler glance at his teddy for a couple extra seconds last week, better bring it along just in case. How many diapers will we need for this two-hour flight? Better just pack the whole box. Never can be too careful.

Most of the time you don't even see these parents, you just see a large moving pile of luggage with children trailing behind. 

The Worriers

Symptoms: Holding leash backpacks, whisper yelling, using sterilizing wipes.

"Dylan. DYLAN. DYLAN! Get back here!" You know the names of these parents' children, because they're constantly yelling them. Anytime their kid wanders more than two steps away they're barking at them to get back.

So much is out of your control when you travel and that drives the worriers nuts. There are all new things for their kids to touch and eat and get lost in. They're not enjoying a second of their "vacation."

The Zombies

Symptoms: Blank stares, heavy sighs, silence.

You might encounter these parents at the tail end of their trip. The try has been sucked out of them. Their mind is too tired to go on, but their body has to soldier on anyway.

Hard to really blame these parents. After a week at some place like Disney World, their kids are still going 100 mph while Mom and Dad just want to find a place to sit down. They're the ones just quietly eating their burger as they get hit over the head over and over with a plastic sword.

The Overachievers

Symptoms: Souvenir t-shirts, asking strangers to take their picture, fanny packs.

When you go on a vacation, you can either go to relax or you can go to get sh*t done. These are the parents with a printed itinerary featuring four places they need to get to today and five more places to hit up the next day.

Most of the time, these parents are accompanied by children who have no interest in the activities or sights they're being shuttled around to, but it's all in the name of family bonding. One day those kids will all look back fondly on that trip or still complain about it ten years later. Either way you're building memories!

The Pros

Symptoms: Wearing makeup, smiling, sleeping.

These are the people we all aspire to be as parents. They've got the experience and have turned traveling with children into an art form. They can pull out a juice box and put the straw in it with one hand without even looking up from their Kindle.

They somehow have packed almost nothing, but have everything they need. Their kids are happy and enjoying themselves while the parents sip on wine and do crossword puzzles or whatever.

The good news for everyone who identifies with one of the first four is that The Pros started out in one or more of those categories. You get enough reps and you'll get there. Or your kids will just grow up and you can travel like a regular human being. Either way, it's only a matter of time.


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