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As frequent family travelers, we are often asked why we travel so much with our daughter. She won’t remember much of it they say, or she won’t appreciate the trip until she is much older. But we think that kind of thinking is a bunch of nonsense. Do you read to your young child every night? Why bother, they most likely won’t remember it. Sounds absurd right? Just because they may not remember every little detail (and to be honest, do you remember every detail of every trip as an adult?) it doesn’t mean that they don’t appreciate the experience and the time spent together with the family.
Milana is now 7 and has been to over 20 countries, many multiple times. She’s flown over 200 times and has become a pro at navigating airports and finding our departure gate, something many adults still struggle with. Travel is a huge part of her young life and she has become a very well rounded child as a result of all the awesome experiences. Sure traveling with kids comes with its own challenges and won’t be like it was before your kids were born, but we have no regrets and will continue to travel with our daughter. Here’s why you should travel with your kids and enjoy every moment of it.
1. Travel makes kids interested in learning about the world
Before every trip, we look at a world map to see where we are going and how we are going to fly there. Sure, they can learn about geography and world cultures in the classroom but what better way to teach your kids about the world than by actually taking them to these places? They will learn where countries are located, capitals, and see how people all over the world live. I find that Milana is much more interested in learning about the places we have been to or are planning to go to than some random places in a book that she has no connection to. Seeing animals in their natural habitat is much better than reading about them or seeing them in zoos. Show your kids the world instead of just telling them about it!
2. Travel opens kids up to trying new foods
If you live in the US, you know that kid menus are full of terrible food. Things like chicken fingers and mac and cheese are on kid menus everywhere, even in restaurants that don’t serve these things on adult menus. Well if you’re traveling the world, you most likely will not encounter that! Many countries offer half priced portions for kids, anything from the adult menu instead of bland “kid” food. As a result, Milana has been exposed to and tries local food no matter where we are. As a result, she will eat pretty much anything and everything from sushi and curries to all sorts of delicacies from around the world.
3. Travel will teach your child to be more patient
I can’t count the number of times we had to wait in line for something on our travels! The gondola line in Hong Kong had an almost 2 hour queue coming back from Big Buddha. Milana has had to learn to patiently wait and has learned to entertain herself without the use of electronic devices. We have also taken her to many fancy restaurants from a very young age, and as a result she has learned how to behave and be patient during our tasting menus and is now a dream to dine out with. Airport delays and long travel days will teach your child patience. It’s amazing to see how well she does after getting off a 14 hour flight only to board the 3 hour connecting flight right after!
4. Travel teaches kids to adapt to routine changes and take them out of their comfort zones
So many parents will say, “But my child will only sleep in their bed, with the temp at 72, with their fuzzy blanket and 3 stuffed animals surrounding them.” Teach them early to adapt to different environments and you won’t be a slave to routine! From the day she was born, we made sure Milana slept anywhere and she has never napped in her actual bed for most of the first year. She has learned to sleep in all sorts of beds, all sorts of noise and lighting situations, carriers, strollers, all depending on where we were at the time. She will fall asleep to this day even before the plane takes off, she associates flying with sleep which makes for some great flights! Travel will get your kids out of that routine and they will adapt to whatever situation is presented to them.
5. Travel makes great family memories
Sure your kids may not remember some of the details and trips but you will! We travel as much for us parents as we do for her. Seeing her mesmerized by the temple in Japan, trying some food at the night market in Taipei or enjoying some mango popsicles on a very hot day in Cartagena is something we will remember forever. And she does too thanks to photo books. Every few trips, I make a photo book of our travels and we frequently look at them. Now that she’s 7, Milana also keeps a travel journal which helps her recall memories from each trip. She may not remember the exact moment, but she does enjoy looking at the photos and often memories come flooding back.
The bonding and uninterrupted family time that happens on trips will make your kids much better humans. I promise you, travel is not wasted on kids! Seeing so many different cultures and ways of life opens their eyes beyond their own backyard. Don’t wait until your kids are “old enough,” otherwise you will always find a reason to not travel. If you have the means and opportunity to travel, take your kids everywhere. They will become global citizens and much better adults as a result of their experiences. Remember, there’s no such thing as a country that isn’t kid-friendly. People with kids live all over the world!
What are your thoughts about traveling with young kids? What has been your favorite family trip? Leave a comment below! And if you want to connect with other family travelers, join our Facebook group, Tiny Globetrotters.