I’ve heard it said a dozen times, “Why would you travel to _____ when your kids are so little, they won’t remember.”
I get it, I do. We question whether the investment is worth the result. I’m not sure what gratification we expect from the result but we hope that the money spent equals happiness and fun, and sometimes when you’re traveling with small children there is a lot of drudgery and chaos (just being real, here). It’s absolutely work. It’s travel, not vacation.
But let me ask you this — Do you do a nighttime routine with your children? Do you read books and take them to Storytime at the library? Let them play t-ball or take dance classes? Will these things foster growth and learning in your child? Absolutely! Will they remember them all? Probably not.
Travel with toddlers and young children is not easy. But even if our kids do not remember, we can still make the investment. Barbara Bush once said, “Memories make a fine cushion for old age.” Things your little ones do while traveling will add a sweet spot to your empty nest years.
While traveling with children requires much work, it is better than being at home
Is traveling with children worth the work it requires? You know what is more work for me? Staying home and cooking meals and cleaning up THREE TIMES A DAY! Haha.
Yes, there is a lot of work involved in the preparation for traveling with children: making sure all of the laundry is finished, preparing food for the road, and planning itineraries and hotels. BUT, even on a busy vacation, you’ll get to eat out more often or visit a place you’ve always dreamed of. To me, that is worth the work it takes before and after the trip!
I have to admit I am looking at this from the perspective of a stay-at-home Mom. I probably don’t leave the house as much as a working mom – unless we are going to kids’ activities or visiting family, so I look forward to getting away either with or without the kids.
Travel affords children the chance to see that the world is a big, diverse place
I grew up in a very small town. There was no racial diversity, no homelessness, and the biggest building was the courthouse. Our kids will only know what we show them. Just like character, we can talk until we are blue in the face, but children learn from our actions. Travel creates an opportunity for kids to see life from a different perspective. This may not mean flying to Africa, it may be driving to the other end of town or the closest major city.
Someday, we have Compassion children that we would love to visit. Our children’s generation is often referred to as “the entitlement generation” and we don’t want our children to think that the entire world lives like our little corner of suburbia.
Travel now while they still want to be seen with you – 😉
When I orignally wrote this post, my oldest was 5! Now he’s 11 and doesn’t like his picture taken and is starting to think that mom’s “fun” ideas really aren’t all that fun.
Soon enough we’ll have 3 teenagers. Vacation may be less about getting them to sit still, but getting them to look up from their iPhone. Travel with your children now to instill the value of family fun and togetherness before they are 10 and have never been out of state!
Tips for dealing with travel and screen-time HERE
It seems like everyone I know that has older children has had a better experience when mom and dad have already spent tons of hours on the road with the kids. I can testify to this. We just went a week camping and traveling throughout Vermont and New Hampshire and had very little whining from the big kids. There isn’t that awkwardness of “Ok, now are going to try to travel together for a week and not kill each other.” In other words, begin a routine now, even if it’s just short-term travel, and the benefits will be longstanding.
Lastly, once your children hit middle school and high school, most families find that their calendar is dictated completed by the children’s extracurriculars. You may want to get away, but find that the schedule is already inundated with activity. Traveling while they are young makes sure that you don’t miss out on valuable family time.
Travel with your kids NOW because you don’t know what the future holds
I don’t want to be Captain Obvious, but if the last 18 months have taught us anything, it’s that life is fleeting and the world can change in an instant! I’m so thankful now that we took our big kids to Ireland and Australia before the pandemic hit and the rules for flying and quarantines and everything changed.
The week of Thanksgiving 2019, we took our newly expanded family of 4 to Niagara Falls, Ontario. I was having crazy travel anxiety (more about traveling with anxiety on this post) and almost didn’t want to go. Mr. Yoder convinced me that everything would be fine, and if it’s wasn’t, we’d get through it. I remember sitting in that hotel room that night, nursing the baby on my lap and thanking God that we’d taken the trip. Having baby #4 had not only changed our family, but it had foreseeable changed our travel, and I was just do grateful. Now little Louisa won’t remember being 3-months-old and at Niagara Falls, but I will. I’ll remember how the baby who never slept was lulled to sleep by the sound of the falls, curled up in her little bear outfit as we pushed her around. I’ll remember how we drank Tim Hortons and ordered the kids hot chocolate and then found giant lighted see-saws in the park. These times come flooding back as I type – another fine cushion for my old age.
The many losses caused by the pandemic have showed us that life is a vapor- we can die of disease or accident at any moment. I want my kids to know that I chose to live life to the fullest and encourage them to do the same, too. Yes, this can probably be done in ways other than traveling, but travel teaches us so much and causes us to stretch ourselves in ways that other things may not do.
Can you think of any other reasons you should travel with your children will they are still little? Do you have any favorite family memories from your travel? Maybe you did take your children to a third world country- how did they react?