“Why would you travel with your kids? I would wait until they are at least 12.” True story. People still think this out loud and many other ‘why kids shouldn’t travel musings’. Like, maybe they are mulling it over in their own head and it gets past that darn leaky filter. Suddenly the unsolicited statements just come spraying out. My favorite is, “They will never remember any of it anyway.” Well, thanks for the psychological overview of my child’s memory.
“They won’t remember a thing”
This statement is actually my favorite. While on the topic of remembering: I don’t remember half of what I did yesterday let alone everything I did on my last trip. But I still travel and thank god for cameras so I can remember my memories! I digress…
Well, my kids don’t remember learning to walk but they can sure run fast now (especially from me when it’s time to clean their rooms). These skills are like building blocks, they are built upon over time. Of course they don’t remember learning to walk, which is actually a good thing because there were many bumps and bruises along the way, but each year they get more agile and faster (as I get slower and fragile…).
Both of our kids started traveling within a few months of birth. At early ages they were introduced to new environments and situations. They explored their surroundings using different senses such as touching grass in Hawaii when it was snow-covered back home. They giggled when ocean water washed over their pudgy little toes and flinched when they tried to eat a prickly pinecone while camping at Yellowstone National Park. Do they remember the moments? Not really but deep in their psyche, they learned from being there. Although those memories aren’t available on immediate recall, they have been building skills and shaping their personalities through their travel experiences. Most importantly, they have learned to adapt, be flexible and appreciate the world.
“Travel is dangerous”
So is riding a horse or bike. Every day we encounter dangerous situations, but we try to be aware of our surroundings and (hopefully) not to let fear cripple us. Now that our kids are in elementary school, we are amazed with their confidence and mental flexibility – which will certainly serve them well as adults. I truly believe this has a lot to do with traveling. They unabashedly try to assimilate and learn foreign languages in order to communicate wherever we are in the world. For the record, they also attend a Spanish immersion school where there is an abundance of encouragement. But I doubt they would have this level of confidence if they hadn’t traveled at such young ages.
Also through traveling, they have learned that life isn’t always predictable. But instead of making it a negative they have learned to figure out alternate solutions or roll with the punches. Travel has taught them patience, kindness and most importantly; make lemonade out of lemons.
“They will catch a weird disease”
I am more worried about them catching ignorance and tactlessness. Just sayin’. We can’t live in a bubble but we do practice good hygiene both at home and while traveling.
“Travel with kids is expensive”
That I agree with. But with planning and creativity you can save a lot of money. In fact, your child can fly free domestically up to two years of age (as long as they sit on your lap). Many hotels also allow kids to eat free with a paying adult. To save money, try a ‘staycation’ where you take a local trip and explore your hometown or one nearby.
My wife and I couldn’t be more proud of our kids as they grow into global citizens. They may not remember their early travels, but each experience is shaping and molding them into unique human beings, enabling them to tackle more of life’s challenges successfully.