Dear random people that I share our vacation plans with,
Yes, we take our kids with us on vacation. The way I see it we have three choices:
- Stay home. Okay, that just seems miserable. Studies have shown people are at their happiest when they are preparing for a trip. Don’t you want to be happy?!
- Leave the children home. Um, no. We don’t get much time with them, so they are going too.
- Travel with the kids (hopefully, you followed that decision tree).
Yes, we choose to be happy, go on vacation, and take the kids with us.
Happy Travels – Left-Brain Mom
A few years ago when Chicken was a year old and Goose was 3 and a half I was planning a vacation to Seattle and Vancouver. I lost count of how many people questioned whether we would take the kids with us. Each subsequent trip the questions have persisted.
For many, traveling with kids evokes thoughts of kids screaming on an airplane, fighting with strollers, scheduling special naptimes, and generally avoiding anywhere that does not prominently feature a pool, a beach, or a theme park.
Living in central Florida, we have pools, beaches, and theme parks covered, so going to one of those is not really “getting away” from our day-to-day world. And as to the other, well, we travel with them anyway for a few key reasons:
(1) We really love traveling.
There are a lot of places we want to go. Note I am saying we – as in Low Key and I. We could kick ourselves now for not traveling more before we had kids, but we were all worried about doing these practical things called school, buying a house, staying out of debt, etc. Before we moved to central Florida, we did take an epic trip through Europe for a month and went to England (six weeks pregnant with Goose), but there are still more places we want to go. And… our alternative to traveling now is waiting till we retire. First of all, I am not a risk taker and waiting seems like we would be counting on still having the health and/or time to travel. Secondly, retirement is a LONG, LONG time from now.
(2) Our kids love traveling.
Okay, so maybe initially they had no idea. However, after a couple of trips, they really love traveling. At home, one of their favorite pretend games is “playing” airplane or hotel. Once Goose asked to go back to a place, we had been on a prior vacation. I explained that we would be going somewhere new and would not likely return to places we had already been. He got very concerned that we would eventually run out of places to go. No worries for me on that one (next ten years of trips are already outlined).
(3) We need time together as a family.
Low Key and I work (at times, a lot). When we are not working, we are running errands, keep up with household chores (like sweeping up mulch that the kids seem intent on smuggling from school), or some other activity (like pages of kindergarten homework or HOA board meetings). Getting outside of the house, the normal activities, the television, I get to see my kids and Low Key differently. It often seems like in the course of one vacation the kids grow up so much. During a trip about a year ago, I suddenly realized that Chicken was doing a much better job with her words. It was like we got outside of the normal day-to-day, and I could suddenly understand her better – maybe it was just having the time with her.
(4) The memories will fade, but the passion for travel can last a lifetime.
I absolutely know that they will not likely remember watching float planes land in Vancouver Harbour or watching sea lions off the coast of San Diego. It is funny that people always bring up that kids won’t remember vacations (as if that is a reason we should leave them at home or not go anywhere). I read where one author astutely pointed out that young children don’t remember the books that were read to them either, but we read to our kids to build a love for books. We travel with our kids to create a love for travel.
(5) We all learn something new when traveling.
Most of us lead fairly sheltered lives. Traveling offers us the opportunity to explore new cultures, meet new people, see amazing landscapes and so much more. Museums, maps, food – travel offers a multitude of learning experiences at every corner. When we were in Vancouver, Goose’s face completely lit up when he saw mountains for the first time. Both Goose and Chicken were amazed by Niagara Falls (though I was slightly horrified shortly thereafter when we were trapped in a packed elevator for half an hour with an Asian tour group, but that’s a story for another day).
(6) Traveling is a learned skill.
Leaving your comfort zone, patiently waiting, being a pleasant airline passenger – all are learned skills. There are so many adults scared to leave their 20 mile radius. Don’t get me started on the impatient parents in the school drop off line (seriously parents, calm down already). Then there are adults that whether it be their first or one-hundredth trip lacks the awareness that other people happen to be traveling as well. These are all skills that can be learned while traveling.
So we travel on… and on… next trip is to Ireland and Northern Ireland – and, yes, we are taking the kids.
Traveling with (little) kids does not have to be hard. It takes planning and realizing that there are places where you have to flex (no fancy dinners, no Broadway shows… for now). However, traveling with kids is totally worth the effort.
For travel inspiration from other families, I totally recommend www.travelwithkids.tv. They also have a show that can be found on PBS, Hulu, and Amazon Prime to inspire your little travelers.
In the meantime, think about what new adventure your family could have – outside of the ordinary.