Don’t Wait: Travel when your kids are young
“Why don’t you wait until they are older, when they’ll remember this?”
“Isn’t it a pain traveling with such young kids?”
“Kids at their age don’t appreciate travel, so why do you spend the money on it?”
As a family of wanderlusters, we hear comments like this a lot from well-meaning friends and family.
We actually caught the travel bug after our first son was born. My husband and I never did the gap year before college thing, nor did we study abroad. We went to school, started working, got married and bought a house, all by the time we were 23 years old. We were good, responsible kids who took their parents advice on how to settle down, and we traveled occasionally for vacation. After our first son was born, our views on everything changed (not shocking to fellow parents, I’m sure). We wanted to show this little, adorable spawn of ours the world, and we wanted to experience it through his eyes. In retrospect, I think this came from our own childhoods of never exploring too far. He went to the Poconos ... I went to the Jersey Shore. Every. Single. Summer. Now, at ages 5 and 7, my boys have been to 16 states and have been out of the country twice. Not exactly world travelers just yet, but it’s a good start.
So, to those asking:
Why don’t we wait until they are older, when they’ll remember more?
Travel isn’t all about the memories. That may be an unpopular opinion, but it’s true. Photos and video will serve as awesome memories for each trip we take. The real takeaway of frequent travel with young kids is what is learned on those trips. Being exposed to new cultures, different people and new experiences help to shape who our kids are when we are back home. They appreciate the things we have, and learn to place value on experiences together as opposed to things.
Isn’t it a pain traveling when they are young?
A wise person once said (and that wise person was likely a mother) "Going on a trip with kids is just yelling at them from a different city, and having to pack your entire house to bring with you."
So, in short: yep. It can be a pain. Watching my family lug four carry-on bags (because who wants to pay extra baggage fees), and two giant convertible car seats, while wearing backpacks and trying to not lose our kids through security at JFK airport is a sight to be seen. Enough of a sight to possibly make you want to stay home. You just have to have a "No Pain, No Gain; It’s worth it in the end; Nothing Good Comes easy," cliche kind of attitude about it.
It’s now noticeable that our kids ask for things to do and specific vacation requests for birthday and holiday gifts. They ask to spend birthday money on a weekend getaway instead of a new toy. Traveling helps foster confidence in them and a huge “say yes” attitude. Planning upcoming trips is a family affair, where everyone gets a say on the itinerary. And with every new adventure planned, I feel us growing closer to our boys.
We’re always reminded that childhood goes so damn fast, so why not spend as many moments as you can exploring this earth with the people that mean the most to you? Pack your good camera, save your pennies, always bring an extra change of clothes for the plane (because someone always inevitably pees their pants) and see the world.