Long before my husband and I had children, we planned to see the world. Long before I was married, I had a goal of traveling as much as I could once I was an adult. I always knew that I wouldn’t let becoming a mother change that. My two children travel with me everywhere I go. We’ve taken trips as a family of four and I’ve traveled with both kids on my own. My kids have traveled domestically and Internationally. They’ve taken road trips and been on airplanes. My philosophy has always been to start them early and travel often. They are seven and four now and have traveled more than many adults. Now, we are prepping and planning for our biggest trip ever — a 12-day family vacation in Thailand — and I can say with confidence that there are innumerous reasons to travel with your kids.
You Don’t Have to Give Up Something You Love
When you decide to travel with your kids, you’re also deciding to keep doing something that matters to you. You’re deciding that parenthood doesn’t have to stifle that part of who you are or stop you from reaching your goal of exploring the world. It’s often easier and a whole lot more fun to just take your kids with you than it is to have to find someone trusted to watch them and then still worry about them the entire time or to simply not travel or to resign yourself to always vacationing in the same place.
It’s a Learning Experience
Traveling with your kids literally turns them into world citizens. When you take them to see and experience new places and cultures, they will learn about things far outside of their own experiences, they will become more cultured and they will begin to have more and more empathy for people who are different than them. Travel is such an asset to education, that many schools will actually consider some trips educational and count them as excused absences or give students credit for the time they spend traveling the world.
They Will Gain Life Skills
From budgeting, pumping gas (we live in New Jersey where we don’t pump our own gas) and dealing with roadside emergencies to packing light and getting through security on time, when you travel with children they begin to learn how to do these things from an early age. When travel is the norm, it truly minimizes anxiety in situations that can be stressful and overwhelming when you’re not accustomed to them. These skills can even help build confidence and problem-solving skills that can be applied to non-travel-related situations as well.
Traveling Creates an Incredible Bond
When a family experiences new things together, sees breathtaking sights together, explores new cultures and foods together, takes risks together, gets through jet lag and extreme exhaustion together, they create unforgettable memories and unbreakable bonds with each other. Time spent traveling as a family is truly priceless.
They’ll Develop a Sense of Adventure
Once your children are past the infant stage, they’ll have opinions about your family vacations, and begin to express them. Sometimes they’ll be raring to go, other times they will whine about being tired or hungry or scared. But the more you travel, the more opportunities you will have to teach them how to be adventurers. With each trip, they’ll learn that the wonder of the adventure you’re on is worth the tiny discomforts you might experience along the way. Before you know it you’ll have resilient little intrepid travelers.
You’ll See Them In a New Way
When you watch your children see and do new things, you’ll begin to see them in new ways. Because you won’t be distracted by the demands of daily life, you’ll get a birdseye view into how they handle new circumstances and challenges — you might discover something new that they are good at, enjoy or struggle with. You’ll learn just a little bit more about their personalities and be able to use what you’ve learned to continue to raise them as individuals.
There Will Be Lots of Great Photo Ops
I have never paid to have family photos taken. We take hundreds and hundreds of pictures of and with our kids on every single trip we go on and they are so authentic and wonderful. Each new destination you visit with your children offers up endless backdrops for unique and meaningful family photoshoots that everyone will remember with fondness.
It Will Help Expand Their Palates
My kids will try just about any food when we’re on vacation. At this point, they know that when we are traveling they will have opportunities to eat things that they may never see again and they are totally up for sampling all manner or local cuisines. Of course, they inevitably end up liking much of what they try, which means they are naturally more adventurous eaters at home. It’s a win-win!
Traveling Promotes Physical Activity
When we travel, we don’t sit around and veg day after day. We get out and explore. We move. We use our bodies. Our family doesn’t have a ton of disposable income, we don’t take our travels for granted and we always try to make the most of every trip. That means we will probably walk miles every day, we will hike and swim and climb, and do as much as we possibly can to truly get to know a place in a short period of time and on a limited budget. My kids may be little, but they know when we are on vacation they’ll need to keep up and in general, they love every minute of it.
You Won’t Regret It
At the end of the day, when you travel with your kids, something will inevitably go wrong. There will be moments of stress and tension, but if you accept and expect that you will enjoy unforgettable family experiences and you will never regret exposing your children to new places, cultures, and experiences from an early age, it will all be worth it. Just remember to take a deep breath and take it all in, because traveling with your kids can be truly magical.