It won’t surprise you that as a globetrotting family, we never questioned whether we would travel when the kids were young. We loved travel and we always knew that any kids who joined our lives would be a part of our adventures.
I have heard many arguments over the years about why you shouldn’t travel when they are little – toddlers find it difficult to sit still on flights, babies cry and disturb others, etc – but I think that speaks more to our own insecurities about what other people will think and/or will tolerate and less to our kids’ actual ability to handle the travel.
Let’s face it: Making decisions based on what others think has never been a great idea.
I can’t speak for every family that travels but I’ve found that travelling when they are young is rewarding for them and for us parents. There is something about taking those first trips out into the world with a baby in tow that inspires the kind of confidence (in them and in us) that helps us all.
That doesn’t mean that it is always going to be easy. There may even be tears – yours and theirs – but in my experience you look back on even the most trying moments with humour and fondness once enough time has passed. Still on the fence? Today I’m sharing my top 5 reasons you should travel with young kids, and a few tips for how it can be an easy (or easier) feat.
1 They’re only young once
When my boys were 11 months and 3 years old we set out on a three week tour of Europe. They were tiny and everywhere we went they were the toast of the town (Well, not in the Parisian restaurants but that’s another story…). We were welcomed and offered help consistently. Naps happened in strollers and on laps in restaurants; Playgrounds made up afternoon outings. Our neighbourhood walks from home were replaced with things that were new and interesting to see on the streets of Rome and Paris and the kids were super portable to boot. Now at 11 years and 13 years old they are still fun to travel with, but our trips are necessarily different. Playgrounds are factoring in less which means we aren’t meeting young families and they have their own interests which guide some of our activities. Our tween trips are busier and less about lingering afternoons. I’m so glad for those initial trips where all it took was a ride on daddy’s shoulders or a park with a slide to make a travel day a success.
2 You’re only young once
When people talk about traveling with young kids a lot of the focus is on the kids. Will they have a good time? Will they be happy? The thing I learned early on was that the key to that is whether the people they value most in the world (their guardians) are having a good time and feeling happy. If Italy makes you happy, bringing your young child there will make them happy too.
The kids don’t remember much of our early years of travel but that doesn’t stop those trips from coming up in our family jokes and conversations. We have albums filled with photos we took of them on travels when they were younger. I love the afternoons where some obscure story leads us down an hours-long path of looking through photos of them in different places around the world. The memories are yours to cherish and you’ll only have them if you make them.
4 Practice makes perfect
The sooner you start traveling with them, the easier traveling with them will be. If they learn from an early age how to handle a flight, what the security lines are all about, that there are some places they have to be quiet and that naps don’t always have to happen in a crib…they’ll be ace travelers by the time you’re ready to do bigger, longer trips. Start the travel training in motion early.
5 Exposure leads to new ideas
Travel is an amazing teacher and your beautiful little ones are a blank canvas. Expose them to the wonders of the world and even though they may not remember the facts of how they learned to believe in values like tolerance and empathy, they’ll have those ideas implanted to carry them forward for years to come.
Have I inspired you? Where will you travel to with your little one?