I always hear this comment when parents take babies or young children travelling… “why bother if they won’t even remember it?” Although that is technically true, there are so many benefits for both you as a parent and the child to travelling. Besides, you wouldn’t not read your child a book at bedtime just because they won’t remember it, right? Travel can be unpredictable, so there may be hiccups along the way, but raising little travellers is so worth it… especially if there are benefits for you too!
The most basic benefit to travelling with children is the perks. Priority boarding on the airplane, advanced hotel check in, line-skips, extra space, the list goes on. People will often go out of their way to assist a family so that the kids are settled and everyone is happy.
And if you think travelling with children is expensive or a waste of money, keep in mind that other than a plane ticket… they’re basically free. Babies and younger children don’t need their own hotel room, they get onto most public transportation for free, they’re almost never charged entrance fees, and their food is super cheap- if not free. Especially if you splurge a little extra for accommodation with a kitchenette, you’ll save a lot in the long run with everyone eating breakfasts and snacks in.
Sometimes when we travel as adults, we can take moments for granted. You’re tired and just want to relax by the pool all day. However throw a kid or two in there, and there will be no relaxing (other than during nap time- don’t worry). Kids encourage us to make every moment count. In order to keep them entertained and wear out some energy, you end up exploring the destination and taking advantage of every hotel amenity with them. You’ll get so many new experiences out of activities that we all might not have even bothered to do before.
Similarly, kids force us to slow down. It’s tempting to race through a city to see as many sights as possible, but we all know that isn’t going to happen with kids in tow. But this can actually be a benefit. You’ll become a better observer and truly experience and enjoy your surroundings, instead of just snapping a picture and moving on. Even better, if your kids are old enough, they’ll constantly be pointing things out and asking questions about everything they see, that you would probably have overlooked.
Another temptation on vacation is to sleep in too long… because hey, you’re on vacation! But in a small hotel room, once you get the kids to sleep, there isn’t much else to do but sleep too, as you can’t exactly make noise or leave. You’ll all wake up early feeling refreshed and ready for a full day of sightseeing or activities.
How many times have you made friends with other adults on vacation? Maybe some people are good at that, but most of us tend to stick to our own space. However kids are always making friends, especially in resorts, and you’ll end up interacting with the other parents. You may end up making some friends too! And if you’re the only tourists around, babies are the ultimate icebreaker, even if you don’t speak the local language. Locals will be welcoming you with open arms!
If your children are old enough to walk, they will get so much out of travelling. Not only is it a great time to bond as a family, it makes your children more curious and instills a sense of adventure that will last a lifetime. They’re thrown into the crazy whirlwind that is travel and forced to try new things, experience cultures that they didn’t know existed, and be put a little out of their comfort zone. Even if they don’t remember the specifics of these trips when they’re older, the lessons they learn through travelling shapes them into more compassionate, curious and adaptive adults.
For children that are being pulled out of school to travel, there are so many real-world learning experiences that can be taught. Consider consulting with their teacher about the curriculum so that you can travel to areas that they’re learning about. However learning doesn’t have to be quite so direct, simply trying new activities, such as surfing, sailing, horseback riding and so on, as well as being immersed in a new language or cuisine are all acts of learning.
Overall, it’s better to travel with them when they’re young and you can either carry them around while they sleep or they’re bundles of energy. Have you ever tried to get a teenager out of bed early so that they can go sightseeing with their parents and no cell service? Yeah… I think a baby or toddler might actually be easier!
Learn more about how to take your children out of school to travel here.