If you’re on the fence about traveling with your kids, I’m here to say, I get it. I know there’s a laundry list of deterrents to traveling with kids. Whether it’s your first or fiftieth trip with your children it can still have its challenges. Kids are just kids. No matter where you are in the world they still need to be fed, napped, bathed, dressed and entertained. It’s stressful, it (can be) quite expensive, you only have so much time off work. Heck, just leaving your house for a vacation requires a week of checklists before you’re out the door. But here’s the thing- despite all of that I still think when possible, you should always take the trip. Here’s why:
It’s great family time.
Everyone’s busy. Life is busy. Work, school, kids activities, etc, consume most of our time and day. Our family gets lost in our schedules and it often feels like we’re ships passing in the night. We both work and sometimes long hours. And you know what…it’s all pretty monotonous. When we’re on vacation it’s days of quality one-on-one time, family meals, and we get to parent together which can sometimes be a rarity.
It gets us out of our comfort zone.
Ever hear the quote, ‘life begins at the end of your comfort zone’? I believe it. It’s when you learn the most about yourself and have some of the best experiences. Problem solving and working together is a great example for kids on staying flexible when your limits are being stretched, that they’ll hopefully model as they get older.
It expands our horizons.
Seeing new landscapes, eating new foods, meeting different people, seeing how other people live, for us, has been instructive at how the world and people in it are all different, and yet how much we all have in common.
You really are creating lasting memories.
Remember what you did last week? I can’t. Ask me to tell you about our last vacation and I could give you a day-by-day breakdown on all the particulars. You’re more likely to remember things that stand out as being different and fun. Kids, even when they’re little, remember more than you think.
Kids are a common equalizer
We’ve been to many countries in the world and I can tell you that most people around the world believe in the village of raising children. We have been blown away by how helpful and kind people are when we travel with kids. We have bypassed hour long lines around customs and immigration and our small rambunctious children have attracted hordes of grandmothers who want to pat their head or squeeze their chubby arms. You’ll always find another sympathetic mother willing to help you find a bathroom or a place to nurse in peace.
It teaches them to value experiences over things
My irritation level goes up dramatically when my first-world born children throw absolute fits over having their iPad taken away or literally refuse to eat their food because it’s ‘’not the right kind of cheese’’. You want to truth bomb them with sayings your mother would preach, like ‘there are kids who don’t have food all over the world’. Teaching kids appreciation and value for what they have is a concern I often hear from parents. This is eroded little by little when we travel, especially to places where people have much less.
You only have so much time with your kids.
It’s a cliche for a reason. It’s going by fast and time is our most valuable currency- because it’s limited. This point isn’t meant to create anxiety or a scarcity mindset. I’ve rolled my eyes at the ‘you only have 18 summers with your kids’ meme also. It’s sometimes overwhelming feeling like there’s some kind of bucket list you’re supposed to be completing with your kids. You don’t have to go to Europe or drop loads of money on expensive vacations. Day trips, local beach vacations, State parks- they’re all great ways to bond as a family. They all carry equal weight in my mind. Just getting out there exploring and spending time together as a family is where the value is.
We’ve loved traveling with our kids. It’s neither easy, often not relaxing and we’ve had some trips that were better than others (and some moments that were truly awful). But the experience of having kids is a continuum. We have those same moments at home as well. Waiting around for the ideal time to do anything will have you waiting for a long time. Life is short. As the expression goes– Buy the shoes. Eat the cake. Take the trip.
Happy travels families!