How Can You Include Small Children on Trips and Expeditions?

Long hours by plane from Brazil to Germany, 500 kilometers of bicycle crossing the Alps and another “stretch” of a few days to explore Venice, all with two children of five years old.
It seems impossible? This was the trip that the couple Fabio Gomes and Melissa Macêdo made this year. In love with the bike, they both dreamed of pedaling TransAlp from Bavaria, Germany, through Austria and Switzerland, to Lake Garda, Italy. And the two young children, who would serve as an excuse for most people to give up the trip, motivated them even more. “We had an opportunity to know many new and different things and to have incredible moments between us,” says Fabio.
It was six months of planning, preparation and much support from family members. “My parents and my niece made the car journey carrying luggage, equipment and the boys in parts of the way.” Fábio’s sister (who lives in Germany) with her husband also pedaled with the couple all the time and, more than That, they who rode and were the guides of the path.
The four traversed 500 kilometers of pedal in five days, with more than 10 thousand meters of altitude accumulated in the route. They crossed mountain ranges, valleys, roads, cycle paths, trails, villages and plantations. And towed the boys in the bike trailer by stretches in Austria and Italy. “They were able to feel very close to the taste of the expedition, because they were totally integrated with our activities from beginning to end,” says the father.
After the crossing, Fabio and Melissa spent a few days with their children between Lake Garda and Venice and then returned to Germany for a few more days, along with the rest of the family. “It was all very intense. In two weeks we traveled by plane, car and train, crossed the Alps by bicycle and took a boat trip. ”
It was not the first time that the twins Martim and Theo followed the adventures of their parents. With four months of age they traveled the first time and with a year already had fun in the bike trailer. At the age of two, the boys climbed Pedra do Bauzinho, Campos do Jordão, and, at three, the family descended the Serra do Mar by bicycle. “They have already gone from Pipa to Angra dos Reis and from Pirenópolis to Paraty, as well as countless ‘escapades’ on the outskirts of São Paulo for farms, inns, beaches and mountains, including a traditional bike trail in Itupeva.”
But including small children in adventures requires planning and a lot of care. From the essentials of luggage like medicines, clothes, sleeping pad  or other accessories to spare and toys, to the schedule of sleeping and eating times.
“Children suffer from routine breakdown. Even without rigidity, we always try to respect the usual waking and sleeping times and maintaining the main meals, because delaying a meal too much or stretching bedtime will interfere with the next scheduled activities. “The challenge is even greater when Trip has a big difference of time zone.
Some tips are already part of the family travel routine. “For long walks, toys, games and drawing materials are great for entertaining.” During walks through cities, for example, a coat, toy, water, and a snack are essential in the backpack.
According to parents, it is also important to be aware that children set the pace and determine what works on the trip. It is fundamental to think from the perspective of the little ones, respecting their interests and also their restrictions of involvement, always reserving space for them to play. “When we crossed a small town we stopped at a playground for the boys to explore and in Venice the fun was to scare the doves. We took them to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and then stood for a long time at the top of a bridge waving to the gondolas and boats passing in a small canal. “With good sense and balance, it is possible to gauge expectations so as not to frustrate adults and not to overload the children.
It is important to be aware that children set the pace and determine what works on the trip. Photo: personal archive
For Fabio and Melissa, traveling offers the opportunity to put children in touch with new situations and experiences that would be very abstract or superficial if only contacts as stories or views on TV.
“Perhaps these experiences can help them understand the grandeur and possibilities of our world, respect differences, increase curiosity, discover and understand new things.”
And in addition to learning, there is something very important in each script. “More than anything, traveling with the family allows us to be together in a much closer, deeper and more intense way than is possible on a day-to-day basis, and for this reason, they are always very special.”