When people have kids, their life takes a major turn. Whereas they used to go out or travel, now they stay home. They tell themselves that they’ll start doing these things again when their kids are older or when this happens or that happens.
After our son was born, we didn’t want to get stuck in that vicious cycle of always having excuses for putting things off. We weren’t going to put our lives on hold; instead, we would bring our son with us and make him a part of the journey.
If Not Now, When?
There are countless excuses you can come up with for not traveling with children, and we hear you. It can be a lot of work. But it can also be an amazing experience. There will never be a perfect time to travel with your children, so do it now before the opportunity passes you by. You can’t turn back time.
Our son just turned three and has already been to 39 countries and more than 100 destinations. We have watched him learn and grow with each new place we visit. And, as parents, we have learned and grown as well, becoming a lot more flexible and adaptable in our parenting. We don’t worry as much about the what ifs. If he has a tantrum, we wait it out and then carry on with our day. We take each situation in stride and figure it out as we go.
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5 Reasons to Travel with Your Kids Sooner Rather Than Later
To break things down further, we actually think there are several good reasons to seize whatever opportunities come your way for travel and adventure, no matter the age of your kids. Here are just five of them.
1. You can enjoy true quality time together as a family. As a parent, the last thing you want is to watch your child become a grown-up, and regret that you never spent more time together as a family. Well, traveling is the perfect way to get that time, and to enjoy a shared experience with the people you love most. When you’re traveling, you’re not going to have to worry as much about things like mowing the yard or doing the dishes; instead, you’ll have more freedom to simply enjoy each other and your destination. We truly believe that travel has made our family closer and improved our relationships with one another.
2. You become more flexible as parents. Life is always unpredictable, but that’s especially true when you’re on vacation or sabbatical; travel is one constant disruption to your regular routine, and you’re unlikely to have a totally consistent schedule for things like meals, naps, and so forth. But you all learn to roll with it; to change plans on the fly; to be less bothered by these disruptions. And we’ve found that it’s easy to take some of that flexibility back with us into our regular life. We no longer leave parties early just because it’s a little bit past our son’s bedtime, we know he will adjust; and we don’t get as frustrated with difficult periods, like potty training, because we know they’re only temporary.
3. It brings exposure to different cultures. Travel opens everyone’s eyes to new ideas and experiences. Whether you’re traveling across the country or around the world, you see first-hand how others live and how their cultures and routines differ from your own. Our own son got to play with kids from Spain, eat authentic Chinese food, and see some amazing sites from all across the planet. Take advantage of the chance to try local cuisine, visit historical places, and interact with the community. This can be beneficial to your childin ways you can hardly imagine, expanding empathy and imagination.
4. You and your kids will all become more adaptable, resilient, and adventurous. It’s amazing how kids, in particular, learn to be more adaptable and adjust to their surroundings; how quickly they’re able to figure out a new playground and communicate with other kids they’ve just met. Their patience, problem solving, and resilience blossom. On our trip, Natasha rode in a helicopter with a screaming toddler, snorkeled for the first time in her life, and tried some adventurous foods in China—all of which left her more open to new experiences, and she felt a great sense of pride as a result.
5. You discover how welcoming people can be, especially toward little ones. Finally, we have found that other countries are very welcoming of families. They celebrate children and don’t mind as much when they’re loud or inquisitive. For instance, when we were in Barcelona, it was past midnight and there were children running around the restaurant, going up to other tables, and none of the patrons minded a bit. They were very friendly because it’s just part of the culture. All of the preconceived notions or worries you may have had vanish when you see how supportive others are.
You can always think of reasons not to go, to not take the chance on a vacation with your child. We happen to think there are even more reasons to go—and we hope you’ll seriously consider it!