So many people want to wait until their kids are older or the “perfect age” to start traveling. But, what is that magic number? When does traveling with kids (or parenting, for that matter) ever become easier?
We’ve heard all the excuses, and even thought a few of them ourselves over the years. “They’re too young to appreciate it.” or “They’ll never remember it”.
While both of these sentiments may be true in some respects, we wholeheartedly believe that traveling is all about the experiences you have.
Young children are like sponges; they soak up everything around them. Every day is a learning experience, including those spent traveling. Sure, the kids will never remember every detail of an amazing trip, but you’ll be surprised at how much they can learn.
Travel ignites curiosity. New places, new foods and cultures. If all these experiences are fun and exciting for you, then imagine how fun it can be with a child. Our experiences shape us and the people we become, and we want our kids to experience more than the little bubble we live in.
“Not all classrooms have four walls”– Anon
Kids Gain Knowledge About the World:
Young kids love learning new languages. Our kids love practicing a new way to say “hello”, “thank you”, and other phrases when we visit new countries.
2. Landmarks and Geography
Our kids love looking at maps and picking out the places we’ve been and where to go to next. It’s pretty impressive to see a small toddler picking out different countries on a map.
Historical facts are a lot more exciting when you can see the place where it all happened. We’re still at the extremely basic level with toddlers, but its fun to explain the historical basics when we visit a new place. Kids love a good story, so make it exciting for them. Our daughter loved visiting the Colosseum, but when we told her about the soldiers and battles they had inside, her eyes lit up with intrigue.
Kids Experience New Things
4. New Cultures
We love watching our kids soak in cultures and traditions different than our own. It gives them a new perspective on life and an appreciation for other people. We want them to understand that people living in other countries with completely different surroundings and rituals are still very much like us. Their circumstances may be different, but ultimately we are all human.
Often, we see kids from several other backgrounds when visiting playgrounds in other countries. We love watching them all play, even though they often don’t share the same language. Even on our trip to Italy, our kids spent the good part of an hour playing with a little girl from Russia. They all honestly could’ve cared less where the other was from.
Young kids are often more adventurous eaters when in a new environment. Our daughter loved calamari when we were in Positano. There’s no way we could’ve gotten her to try that at home.
6. New activities
Travel gives kids the option to try new things they’d never be exposed to at home. It could be something as simple as hiking through a forest or as crazy as white water rafting. Swimming in a cenote in the middle of the Mexican jungle was so fun exciting for our daughter. Whatever it may be, kids will learn new things about themselves in the process.
Learning to Help Out
As kids start to get older, it is fun to include them in the planning part. If they have ownership of a portion, they are more likely to be excited about an upcoming trip. Let the kids pick a restaurant or activity beforehand or even let them help you pack.
Let kids pack their own small backpack with toys, favorite stuffed animal, etc. As our daughter is approaching five, we’ve started giving her the responsibility of keeping up with whatever she takes. She knows that she’s the one to carry her bag. Now, we still end up picking up behind them occasionally (they’re still toddlers, after all), but we’re trying to lay the groundwork early.
Kids Become More Adaptable
Enduring an extended layover or waiting at a train station can help reinforce the importance of patience in children. This day and age we’ve all gotten a little too used to everything happening at the push of a button. An extended waiting period (and the ensuing boredom) can help kids to learn to deal with unexpected delays in life.
Sometimes travel plans fall through. Our kids have learned to become more adaptable when plans change due to unforeseen events like hurricanes and late plane departures.
What have your kids learned on your travels? Let us know below!