The Benefits of Traveling With Kids

The Benefits of Traveling With Kids

Every few years an article circulates on social media with a title of something like “Top 5 Reasons to Travel with Kids” or “Why You Should Take Vacations While Your Kids Are Still Young.” Generally speaking, the article usually cites a number of reasons about fostering a love of learning, culture and adventure. All of which I agree with, but I generally find it inapplicable to parents with young kids. So today I decided to write some of the reasons that I think it’s worth it to #takethekids whenever resources allow it.

  1. Traveling with Young Kids Helps Me Be A Better Parent

First and foremost, I have to tell you that traveling with kids makes me a better parent. If you’ve ever wanted to test your own personal limits, try taking an infant, pre-teen toddler, and 3 year old on vacation. As if every day life isn’t chaotic enough, why not add in a bunch of new sensory experiences, no routine, a different schedule, none of your normal things or comforts of home, and the random logistical challenges (okay, nightmares) that travel often comes with? Why not!

Traveling with little people helps me to be a better parent because it reminds me of the things that are important, which generally does not include instagram-worthy family photos. It reminds me to be fully present- the world is a scary place. The world on vacation, perhaps somewhere like Walt Disney World with its 53,000+ daily visitors, is terrifying. There are so many things to do and see which equates to 2358972048 reasons for your child to want to run away from you. Absolutely frightening. But that terror forces you to put your phone down and just BE with your family. It’s one of my favorite benefits.

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It also helps me to be a better parent because it reminds me that the world does not revolve around me. Before kids, traveling meant laying around at the pool or beach all day with a cocktail and a good book, visiting museums and wineries and restaurants, or trying to complete the WDW marathon and visit all four major theme parks in one day. With kids, you may have plans to do any number of things, but that doesn’t mean that’s what you will do on any given day. Items get forgotten at the resort, a blowout ruins the baby’s matching shirt, a toddler is overtired or overstimulated and not cooperating with anything, or your body is physically ready to give up from setting up and breaking down your double stroller twenty-five times. And all of that is okay, so long as you are able to roll with the punches.

2. Traveling with Young Kids Plants Experiences in Their Hearts and Minds

If I had a dollar for every time that someone has asked me why I take my kids on trips while they’re so young considering “they won’t remember it!” I’d have enough money to go on vacations for the next decade. First, if the standard was to not do anything kids wouldn’t remember, then we also should not talk to them, read to them, play with them, go to parks with them, go to museums with them, have birthday parties for them, or buy Christmas presents for them. I simply don’t believe that statement is an accurate measuring stick, nor do I believe the statement itself.

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Kids are shaped by every single interaction and experience they have. Studies have repeatedly shown that the first three years of a child’s life are the most important in setting the foundation of who they will become. Now I’m not suggesting that traveling will make your kid, but rather that the experiences garnered will help to influence their hearts and minds in ways that aren’t necessarily tangible or readily observable.

3. If Traveling Is A Passion of Yours, traveling with Young Kids Enhances the Experience for You and Teaches Them They Are Not the Center of the Universe

The number of sacrifices parents make for their kids on a daily basis is impressive. Whether its skipping a morning shower because the baby woke up early, missing two hours of sleep because the toddler needed cuddles at 1am after a bad dream, or dealing with indigestion from scarfing food down quickly so that you can begin cleaning up — it’s no shock that parents are constantly giving up things for their kids. Involving them in a passion of yours, whether they particularly like it or not, is one way to teach them to care about and have compassion for others.

Traveling with my kids has also made certain places incredibly memorable for me. I mean, you certainly didn’t have to twist my arm to make me fall in love with Italy or beg me to go back to Orlando, but now that I’ve been to both places with my children, they are even more meaningful to me. I will always remember that Nico first crawled in my hotel room in Lake Como, that he first had lasagna in Milan, or that he had his first hair cut on Main Street at the Magic Kingdom.

I’ll never forget that Mila visited Disney World for the first time at just six weeks old and is mesmerized by It’s A Small World (nor will I ever again get that song out of my head).

And I’ll always remember the special photos Gabriella and I took when we had a one on one date on Castaway Cay in the Bahamas.

4. Traveling With Young Kids Gets Them Moving

Sightseeing usually means that kids are experiencing new places — and kids are generally open to exploration by virtue of being kids. I almost never have to ask my toddlers to get out of the stroller while we’re traveling, they’re busy trying to bust out of their 5 point harnesses all on their own.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 60 minutes of activity for kids each day. Teachers are regularly advocating for mandatory recess periods or increased time of physical activity or free play for children. Florida went so far to pass a law a number of years ago that guaranteed children would have a required and guaranteed 20 minutes of recess each day for elementary students. Other states have banned or considered banning detention during recess for disciplinary purposes.

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In addition to simply wanting to be active in the travel environment, travel usually means that kids are less interested in temptations that are present at home, primarily any number of the television or tablet screens in the house or car.  Whether it’s playing on the playground, in the pool or splash pad, in the sand, or running around in open space- kids love to explore new areas and things and even a slight variation of an otherwise normal thing- a new playground, for example- excites something within them.

5. Traveling with Young Kids Inspires Curiosity and Creativity

Some of the best life lessons come from worldschooling, the growing trend that embraces the idea of the world being your classroom. Worldschoolers are part of an educational movement not all that dissimilar from Montessori that embraces a holistic approach to learning, a desire to introduce children to the world around them, a preference for experiential learning, and a need for flexibility in exploring children’s talents.

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Children are innately curious beings. In addition to the obvious desire to explore their senses in new places, children also become curious about things that seem obvious to us when we forget just how innocent they are. Curiousity usually leads to questioning, and the Good Lord knows I couldn’t possibly have offspring that are lacking the ability to interrogate 🙂 Their natural curiosity brings questions, and questions bring interactions with you, their travel companions.

Traveling is ripe full of possibilities to encourage children to become global citizens, and to put their experiences gathered out in the world to use in their everyday lives. Travel requires problem solving, critical thinking, and flexibility, and helps children come up with creative solutioning and decision making skills at a faster pace.

I wish life provided for more opportunities to pick up, pack up, and go somewhere with the kids. I certainly try to take advantage of every single opportunity that comes up, whether it means adding a day or two onto a work trip or a weekend trip here or there.

But enough about me, what do you guys find about travel with super young kids? Yay or nay? And why!

 

 

 

By recoveringsuperwoman

Krista is a a corporate attorney and single mom of 3 young kids- Nico, Gabriella and Milana- residing in Orlando, FL.

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