Traveling with kids is a topic that tends to instantly divide parents.
It seems that most parents are either strongly in favor of traveling with their kids and embark on family adventures whenever the opportunity arises, or they are dead-set against it and believe that travel is really meant to be experienced sans children.
Before having kids of my own, I was a firm believer that traveling with children (outside of specific kid-friendly places like Disney) was just plain rude to the rest of us trying to enjoy our kid-free vacations (and yes, I now realize how self-involved that sounds but admittedly, before kids, I thought the world pretty much revolved around ME – didn’t we all?!).
I was one of those people who would stand in line at the airport gate and scan the area for any kids, silently praying that none of them would be seated near me on my flight. Because travel + kids equaled disaster in my book.
In fact, I can distinctly remember enjoying a peaceful breakfast at a hotel in Maui when a family with several little ones sat down at the table next to me. After letting out a giant sigh and dramatic eye-roll, I watched in horror as these parents let their little ones run wild around the breakfast buffet, wailing and laughing loudly. I have no doubt that those kids were having the time of their lives, but I was not amused.
At that moment, I silently vowed that I would never be like those parents – I would never travel with my kids.
Flash-forward ten years and that vow has since been broken, as so many other things that I once ‘vowed’ I would never as a parent have.
And while I’m proud to say that I have never let my kids run wild at an upscale hotel breakfast buffet, I have gotten my fair share of dirty looks due to a crying baby or a toddler temper tantrum.
But I’ve also learned that the memories made from traveling with my kids far outweigh any of the challenges (or dirty looks) that I’ve experienced along the way.
The Challenges of Traveling with Kids
When it comes to traveling with kids, regardless of how many or what ages they are, the challenges are plentiful.
Long plane rides, time zone changes, sun burn, bickering siblings, unfamiliar routines, strange foods, exhaustion, sickness, finding kid-friendly activities, all the kid-gear that must be packed…the list goes on and on.
And while some of these challenges are minor and can be easily overcome, some are a bit more significant – like finding the perfect family-friendly accommodations.
Let’s be honest, there are simple ways to beat boredom or accommodate picky eaters, but I’ve found that where you set up your home-base and lay your head at night while traveling can really make or break your entire experience – especially when kids are involved.
But how do you know if a hotel or rental home is truly kid-friendly?
Finding Kid-Friendly Travel Options
Unless you’re looking to stay at resort or hotel specifically geared towards children (no thank you!), it can be difficult to know which accommodations will offer the comfort and relaxation that you want as an adult while still keeping your little ones safe and happy.
That is, until Kid and Coe came on to the scene in 2013.
Founded by Zoie Kingsbery Coe, Kid and Coe has been touted as the ‘Airbnb for families’, offering hand-picked accommodations around the world that will dramatically simplify how you travel as a family.
After pouring through the Kid and Coe website (while literally drooling on my keyboard at all of the stunning vacation options) and chatting with the founder herself, I only wish that I had come across this gem of a website sooner.
The Coopersale Residence, London
14th Street Residence, San Francisco
The Henrik Steffens Vej Residence, Copenhagen
Kid and Coe offers a variety of rental options with everything from family homes to vacation properties to agency partners and hotels. Whether you’re traveling with a new born, toddlers, older kids, or a mix of all ages – Kid and Coe undoubtedly has a property that will meet your family’s every need.
Taking it a step further, not only does Kid and Coe offer accommodations, but for select locations, they also offer family-focused perks. Things like babysitter and nanny services, car services, special kid-centric equipment and supplies, concierge services, and a variety of other useful and thoughtful amenities.
The website is impeccably designed making it super simple for even the most inexperienced traveler to really get a genuine feel for what each property offers and whether or not it will be a good fit for their family!
Honestly, I could go on and on singing Kid and Coe’s praises but I’m pretty sure that you’d rather hear from the founder herself, Zoie Kingsbery Coe – a successful working Mom and world traveler.
Zoie was kind enough to let us peek into her life and her family’s travels, sharing priceless insight and advice on everything from traveling with kids to running a business – and she provided a special offer for our readers!!
MKC: I read that your Mother worked in the travel industry and that you were able to travel quite a bit as a child. What’s your favorite memory from your childhood travels? How do your childhood travel experiences differ from your own children’s travel experiences?
ZKC: Well, for one, we don’t own a Volvo station wagon and quite a lot of my travel experiences centered around being in the back of that car on a road-trip! But we would also take spontaneous trips to Paris or Milan, just for a long weekend, because we could all hop on a plane and fly space available. Thinking on it now, how my parents did that without the wealth of knowledge available to us on the on the internet is pretty cool!
MKC: Very cool!! Sounds like the travel bug runs in your family!
It also seems like you and your own family maintain a fairly nomadic lifestyle, right? I’ve read that you’ve lived as a family in New York, Los Angeles, and Ibiza…So, where do you currently call home? And do you miss home when you are traveling as a family or do you consider ‘the road’ (or planes/trains/and Kid and Coe residences) to be home?
ZKC: We currently call Ibiza home, which I adore. It’s very different in the winter-it’s a calm, kind of sleepy Spanish village. It feels very safe and almost old-fashioned (not a store is open on a Sunday!).
I most definitely miss home when we are away! I’m funny because I crave routine and the structure of having the kids at school, but I’m the first to say “yes!” when my husband suggests pulling them out of school to go on a family adventure somewhere for a month.
MKC: Sounds amazing! And your kids are so lucky that they get to enjoy the school of life!! Which leads me to my next question –
I read that the inspiration for Kid and Coe initially came from your personal experience and observation regarding how tough it can be to find truly child-friendly accommodations when traveling…were there any other factors that inspired you to make the leap and start Kid and Coe?
ZKC: There were a number of factors. One was that I had just had my second child, a girl, and I remember thinking to myself when she was about 6 months that I had always wanted to have my own company, and how was I going to teach my daughter that she could do anything she wanted to do if I hadn’t tried myself. I would say the other is that I really value travel in my own life and how it shaped me, and I wanted to pass those same experiences onto my own kids.
MKC: Well, it sounds like you are doing a phenomenal job giving your kids some amazing life experiences while at the same time running a business!!
So, before Kid and Coe, you helped keep your husband’s DJ career organized…what was the scariest part about shifting your focus from your husband’s career to launching your own business? What was the most exciting part?
ZKC: I think the scariest part was feeling exposed at the beginning and doing things that were way outside of my comfort zone. I’m a fairly private person and had watched my husband navigate being in the public eye as a DJ. Stepping out myself from behind that shadow was intimidating. The most exciting part- see the former!
MKC: Well, I feel confident in saying that there are many families out there who are grateful that you did step out of your comfort zone and create such a wonderful travel resource!!
Now, I’m sure you get asked this all the time, but what advice would you give to the family that is about to embark on their first big trip with kids? Things to do in advance, things to expect, or things to be prepared for?
ZKC: Go with the flow! Bedtimes don’t have to be adhered to the dot! We used to plan our big lunches around when we knew the baby would have his daily nap in his stroller. Plan, but don’t over-plan – rather pick a few things that are ‘MUST-DOs’ for all of the family. Check out the family programming at the museums; these days there is so much available. And when the going gets tough, repeat “making memories”. You’ll most likely only remember the good stuff.
MKC: Great advice! Life really is all about making memories!
And while you are out traveling the world and making those memories, what five non-kid related items are absolutely essential for you personally? What about your five-essential kid-related travel items?
ZKC: Non-Kid: trainers, black leggings (to wear under dresses, to do the odd yoga class, to lounge), pair of Havaianas, gold hoops, big drapey scarf.
Kids: now that I have a wee one again, baby carrier, watercolor palette (I’m not particularly arty but anywhere in the world you can find something to paint on!), Babyzen stroller (the very best – it goes on the airplane overhead!), iPads and headphones for the older kids (not going to lie), snacks!
MKC: Haha, what did we do before iPads?! They are a travel must-have with kids!
Do you and your husband ever travel without the kids? And if so, I’m guessing that traveling with your kids is certainly different than traveling alone as a couple, so, is there one that you prefer over the other?
ZKC: Is this a trick question? 🙂 We definitely travel without kids; in fact, we make a point of it. Travelling alone without kids is a vacation in the true sense of the word. But traveling with them is so fulfilling: being away from the day-to-day grind, experiencing new things together – it’s such quality time that we wouldn’t miss it for the world.
MKC: You guys must have some amazing memories, both with and without kids!!
So, what do you say to all of the people out there who firmly believe that traveling with kids is an absolute no-no?
ZKC: Well, to each their own, but I would say the alternative to not traveling is that you just stay home, and that’s no alternative to me.
MKC: Great point! I think that one big deterrent for some parents when it comes to traveling with kids is the dreaded combo of babies and planes – something that often induces an immediate eye-roll from child-free travelers.
What is your advice for taking long flights with babies in tow? Have you had any difficult experiences on planes with your own children and if so, how did you cope with them?
ZKC: This is where the baby carrier comes in. I’ve spent entire flights in the galley swaying and bouncing and going ‘shh shh’. It relaxes them like nothing else. Also, I also have those stacking cups because you can waste countless time (and brain cells) playing ‘where’s the raisin or goldfish’. Also, sticky notes – those little tabs you use for bookmarks. Those are good toys for the toddler set. And never underestimate the power of the snack.
MKC: I would’ve never thought of using those everyday items as kid-entertainment! Great ideas!
Which leads me to kids and technology – the amount of time that kids spend on technology and staring at screens is a huge parenting topic these days. Being the little world travelers that they are, do your kids spend a lot of time on technology?
ZKC: We struggle with the right amount of technology like every parent I know. When we are at home, we don’t allow screens during the week and try to limit it on the weekends. We use this device called Circle which controls your house Wi-Fi and helps enforce limits. It’s a game-changer. We kind of use it as a bartering tool on the weekends – if you do your Spanish Verb drills you get more Xbox time…that kind of thing.
MKC: I’ve never heard of Circle, I will have to check that out – sounds very helpful!
You’ve mentioned that before starting Kid and Coe (while you and your husband and baby were traveling the world), it was a struggle to find truly child-friendly accommodations. Tell us about one of the least kid-friendly places that you stayed at during that time.
ZKC: That would have to be the Bali pool villa we checked into… if memory serves me right, I don’t think it had proper doors, was surrounded by pools, and loads of little pebbles. All my toddler wanted to do was pop those pebbles into his mouth or throw them into the pool.
MKC: Yikes!! Definitely NOT kid-friendly!!
So, tell us what specifically makes a residence ‘kid-friendly’? What are the criteria you look for when adding a residence to Kid and Coe?
ZKC: We are looking for properties that suit family travelers. We know that families come in different shapes and sizes, with kids of different ages and temperaments, so, our needs are varied.
We look for properties that are:
- In a great location for family travelers
- Safe and appropriate for children
- Clean and well-appointed
- Decorated in a desirable style
- Stocked with amenities that suit family travelers – for example: cribs, high chairs, and toys
Properties may not need to fulfil all of the above criteria; for example, a property in a fantastic location with beautiful decor may be included even if it does not have a high chair or crib, as it could suit families with older children.
If your readers would be interested in it, we can offer a $50 coupon code for any first-time bookings on the site. Just use the code TODDLEON. (The coupon is valid until March 31, 2019 and cannot be used in conjunction with other offers.)
MKC: Thank you so much, Zoie!! What a wonderful offer!! And thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us!!
If you’re dying to know more about Zoie, her family’s travels, and her company, check out some of the beautiful photos that she shared with me below and explore what others are saying about Kid and Coe!
The Guardian: “The owners had left not only a couple of city guides, but a hand-drawn map of the café-rich local area, Amsterdam-Zuid, picking out their own favorite things to do and eat: apple pie and playgrounds featured heavily. They’d also left a note on the well-stocked fridge telling us to help ourselves.” (October 23, 2014)
LA Times: “Kid & Coe has properties that put children first… Breathe a motherly sigh of relief at houses and apartments with toy-filled children bedrooms and grassy backyards approved for play.” (March 12, 2014)
Lonny: “Our Kid & Coe home had a personality informed by its inhabitants. I think the boys slept soundly because they were in a room designed for children and full of beloved toys and books. They felt at home immediately.” (August 5, 2014)
Travel + Leisure: “Curated rentals perfect for toddlers to teens, Kid & Coe is the new go-to site for jet-setting parents.”