Whenever we tell people we’re planning a trip with our kids to a foreign country there’s quite a few that react like we just told them that we’re going to Mars. Travel isn’t necessarily for everyone, and there’s nothing wrong with that. My issue is that I see a lot of families that do want to travel. They just think they can’t with kids.
Don’t get me wrong, traveling with kids is hard. The jet lag is ten times worse because there are three little people who don’t know what jet lag is.
The packing is more stressful because if you forget a lovey or a binky you will be in major pain mentally and emotionally for many, many days.
Can you tell that these things have happened to us? They have indeed, and I’m still here telling families that they should take the plunge and travel with kids.
Here’s why traveling with young kids might actually be the best time to travel.
1. Life is hard anyways
You might have toddlers that are on a path of destruction every single day, or a baby that only wants to live in the Ergo and won’t nap in a crib. I’ve been there, I feel you. Life is hard during these years. My theory is that there’s not that much we can do to make it easier except find things that we as parents love doing. So if you are a person who loved to travel before having kids. Chances are you still love it. Do something you love because babies will be babies whether you’re stuck at home or on a beach in Spain.
2. The photos are amazing
I was looking back at some of our travel photos yesterday and tearing up a bit. Something about travel, maybe it’s the novelty, makes memories really stand out. So the photos that you take of your kids when traveling have an impact that normal photos don’t. They are images of not just memories but a snapshot of a moment and a place that were truly special to you and your family.
3. Your family becomes closer
It’s true; I usually feel our family of 5 is the closest when we travel. Of course we have our moments where we all just want to not see each other for a week (or four), but travel really pushes people together. The usual distractions of everyday life aren’t there and we end up spending more time together. We rely on each other more. We share experiences as a family that we can talk about for years to come.
4. Your kids aren’t too young to learn
Even toddlers can learn from travel. Many people argue that travel is somehow wasted on young kids because they won’t remember it. How can an experience be wasted though? Even toddlers will not be the same after eating Japanese food for a week, or seeing local kids play soccer everyday. Our kids always manage to discover something in a foreign country they normally wouldn’t have been exposed to here. The greatest benefit might be in the stories you’re able to tell your kids when they’re older. Our oldest daughter took her first steps in Italy and now it’s a country that she’s fascinated by, probably because of the stories we told about our trip that she doesn’t technically remember.
5. You learn how flexible your kids are
It’s amazing how adaptable kids actually are. A few days in a new country and all of a sudden they are used to that way of life. Before traveling with our kids I thought that kids needed all of these toys, contraptions and routines. Travel teaches us parents that kids actually need very little. Honestly, every time we travel I come to the realization that I might be the least flexible person in our family. The kids do just fine, while I frantically look for a Starbucks so I can get a taste of home.
As the kids get older I realize that there are certain places you want to experience with them at a young age. Maybe for you that’s Disneyland, a trip to the beach, or a trip to the country your family is from. Experiencing that trip with a young child is more a gift to the parent than anything, because in the moment you may be swearing you’ll never travel with kids again but in a few years you’ll be tearing up at the photos. Then going to your computer to book another trip.
Where will you and your family go?