How I Learned to be a Traveling Mom

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tieast farrIt was the traveling mom and her two kids that changed things for me. There they were, sitting at the gate, faced with a 10-hour plane ride and looking as though it would be no more daunting than a walk across the street.

So I ask her, “You are about to go all the way to Brazil with your kids?” 

At the time, the thought of being a traveling mom was the farthest thing from my mind–until six months later when the stick had two lines. The only experience I had traveling with kids on a plane was as a flight attendant and it was nothing nice.That mom looked at me as if I had asked the most ridiculous question and replied, “My great-grandmother is from there.  I have never been to the country, and I want to explore my heritage.  This is their heritage as well, so why would I cheat them of experiencing it with me?”

I distinctly remember saying to myself that if I ever became a mom, I would never look at them as a travel hassle, but as another pair of eyes through which to see our world.  Over the past few years, on the go as a flight attendant and public speaker, I have learned that traveling as a mom without your children certainly has benefits.  You savor the moments of peace and quiet, self-exploration, reflection, and of course, room service; but the entire time you are away, you secretly pine for the chance to change a diaper or kick a soccer ball. 


However, taking a voyage with a child, no matter how near or far, enhances travel much more.  The curiosity they bring to the most minuscule details can open your eyes to a completely new experience.  The memories you create while traveling together remain forever, as well as the knowledge that you have broadened a child’s horizons that much more by sharing travel with them.  Sometimes it’s not fun. There are challenges and you may want to pull your hair out strand by strand in the security line. 

But just when you grab that first hair to pluck, think of this…a mom took her two little kids all the way to Brazil by herself.  If she can do it, so can you.  Let the journey begin.  

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About The Author

Cindy Richards is a Pulitzer Prize nominated journalist who serves as the Editor-in-Chief of She also is the mom of two terrific teens who have traveled with her since that first, fateful plane ride when one preschooler discovered a barf bag in his seat pocket and his sister, finding none in hers, demanded, “I want a barf bag too!” She has been a reporter, editor and columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune, an editor at Chicago Parent and Catalyst Chicago and an instructor in the graduate school at Northwestern’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism.

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