When the subject arises of ‘traveling with children’, there seems to be a general consensus that ‘it can’t be done.’
Most believe that your traveling days are over when the dawn of ‘da-da’ and diapers begins.
The reasoning behind this train of thought varies from a list of ‘toos’ - such as ‘too dangerous’, ‘too much work’, ‘too expensive’ - to a focus on what may be missing from their child’s life - such as family and friends, school and stability. (Which I’ll address in another post).
Others surmise with an all-encompassing explanation of ‘they won’t remember it’ - so what’s the point anyway?
But the truth continues to come to light is that travel is possible after kids - and in fact beneficial for them.
I once wrote an article published by BootsnAll entitled How to Develop Character in Your Children (and Yourself) Through Travel which extolled the merits of international travel as a tool for personal and family development.
While the overall response was positive, one commenter said,
“Parents who travel with toddlers do it only for selfish reasons...
The simple truth is that children at very young age can’t appreciate what their parents are doing…Small kids enjoy being with their relatives, but not too far from home and their culture.”
This statement was surprising to me, because it is so far from the truth I’ve come to know.
Unlike the stereotypical traveler - a young, unattached, wandering backpacker getting as many countries under their belt as they can before 'settling down’- we traveled very little before we began our family.
Our desire for travel developed after the kids came.
With three children, before ever donning our traveling pants, we imagined the day that we would do so - and our primary motivation - in fact the driving force - was the value it would bring to our family.
Living abroad would immerse our children in a second language (Spanish was our choice), and introduce them to contrasting cultures and ideologies.
We also wanted them to experience our ‘shared humanity’ - to encounter firsthand the commonality of people of all colors and nations - and to see the goodness that exists in people all over the world.
So while it is true that my husband and I thoroughly enjoy our family adventures, our decision to travel was based on a belief that it was in the best interest of our kids.
Our experiences since then have confirmed what we originally believed - traveling is good for our children - and the ‘excuses’ for not doing so are just that - excuses.
(From here on out I’ll refer to reasons for not traveling with children as an excuse - no matter how valid it might be - as long as it's keeping you from doing what you really want: traveling as a family. If that's not what you want, why are you reading this blog?
In one of our favorite children’s book, No Excuses: How What You Say Can Get In Your Way, author Wayne Dyer teaches that anything which keeps us from living the life we want is just an excuse.)
In the coming weeks, I'll address the benefits children receive from travel, as well as the excuses that keep us from doing it.
- Family Travel Supports Brain Development (for Kids and Grown-Ups Alike)
- Family Travel Builds Character and Confidence (Part 1 - Language and Social Interaction)
- Family Travel Builds Character and Confidence (Part 2 - Being Uncomfortable and Trying New Things)
Why do you travel with your children?
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