As you might have guessed from the fact that this blog exists in the first place, we think traveling with children is not only doable, but also a valuable experience. We don’t think it’s valuable just for the kids, but for their parents (us!) as well.
We’ve talked before about how we didn’t really see ourselves as being travelers and it is just within the last few years we’ve begun to see widespread travel as a family as a distinct possibility. We have since received a lot of comments about how, well, crazy we are for some of our traveling plans. (Iceland and England loom before us.) Maybe we are crazy. But we also believe in what we’re doing with our family.
Why is it, exactly, that we want to travel with our kids?
Here are a few reasons we’ve come to understand:
1. Kids take delight in the small things, and remind you to do the same.
We recently went on a trip to the Oregon coast and found ourselves stuck in traffic on a bridge in Astoria due to an accident that had happened. As parents, we were doing a bit of grumbling, wondering when we’d be able to move along. Our children, on the other hand, spent their time enjoying watching a colony of seagulls attempt to fly against the wind. When asked what their favorite part of the trip was, our children collectively list their experience watching the seagulls as their top favorite.
It was a good reminder to us not to grumble over delays, but to look around us and see what there is to see.
2. Kids are quick to share their enthusiasm for the travel experience.
Yes, it is true that they are quick to share their vast array of emotions, not limited to enthusiasm. Managing those emotions is a subject for a different post. However, there is one emotion that almost never needs to be managed: enthusiasm. A child’s delight is something that can only be delighted in. When the kids are excited, you can’t help but smile. It doesn’t take much to really please them; it could be a piece of candy, a walk through a park, or watching a squirrel run up and down a tree. The possibilities for delighting a child seem to be endless.
For anyone out there who makes a regular habit out of traveling with others, you know that it’s always nice when there is joy expressed by your traveling partners over the shared experiences. Kids never hold back in telling you when they are happy. When you hear that they are happy, you feel at liberty to enjoy things for yourself.
Kids remind you that it’s ok – even desirable – to take joy in the experience.
3. Kids move at a slow pace.
You really can’t rush a kid unless you wish to risk a melt-down or risk burying them in your adult stress. You could choose to look at that negatively, or not. The benefit of this fact is that they force their parents to move slowly as well. They like to stop and smell the roses. They give adults a good excuse and opportunity to do the same. This is something to be grateful for, not annoyed by. When you are moving slowly, you tend to notice small details that you would have otherwise missed if you were in a frenzied hurry to be “off to the next best thing.”
4. Kids help you to create unique memories.
You might think that adults have more fun than kids, but we’re not so sure that’s the case. When you surround yourself with kids, you’ll find that they frequently become sidetracked with details that previously escaped your notice. You might very likely end up pausing over something that you had overlooked, or pursuing something which unexpectedly caught their attention. You’ll discover that although you might set out to have a particular planned adventure, things can easily change in a moment when a kid takes note of something. Don’t be afraid to check out whatever it was that sidetracked your child. We’ve discovered that pursuing what caught their eye frequently adds a few extra smiles and laughs to the memory bank.
5. Traveling with kids builds family culture.
By this we mean that when you travel together as a family, you begin to weave stories that you create together and share just between yourselves. There are inside jokes and experiences that are unique to just you. No one else will ever understand these stories in quite the same way that you and your kids do. Traveling with kids gives an opportunity to grow in love with one another as you learn how the others tick, what they care about, what hurts them and delights them. When traveling among strangers, you tend to draw closer to people that you know and are familiar with. In this case- that means your kids! Who among you can complain about growing closer to your kids? What a joy!
Will you have to pack more and think through your trip in greater detail before taking a single step? Absolutely. But forethought never killed anyone. It’s really not a big deal. You get used to it.
Will you have melt-downs and delays in plans? Most likely, but all of this is easily managed with a little time and attention. Don’t freak out in advance and scare yourself out of some good memories.
Will kids “slow you down” in your travels? Yeah, they will. In a good way.
Take your kids with you. We can pretty much guarantee you that your travels will never be the same.
In fact, you might just discover your adventures to be better than ever!