Traveling with your young children is a gift to them and yourself.
Starting a travel blog has been eye opening for me. It has created this sense of community with fellow travelers who see the merit in exploring and exposing their children to the world. Traveling with my family is one of the highlights of my life. We learn and grow, and I feel like my eyes open to a different paradigm with each destination. I also don’t think that these learning experiences are just for adults or older children. As a millennial mom, I am sharing why traveling with young kids is important to our family and me. Something that I wasn’t prepared to experience when starting our blog is seeing how many people want to travel but feel unqualified to do so.
Many parents seem nervous, unaware, and unsure about journeying with their children, especially when younger children are most likely not to remember the particulars of the trip. I know that every parent has different opinions and thoughts about raising their children. I love and respect that. To me, the difference in perspectives is what makes the world so interesting. I am not here to mock or criticize a certain way of parenting (Heaven knows I am no expert) but merely want to share why it is so important for me to show my toddler the world. I cover the exact science behind it all a little bit later. In my opinion, even though children can’t remember the details of a trip or an experience, what they see and do, does affect the person they become and how they will view the world.
Our Experiences Traveling With A Young Child
The first vacation Beckham* went on was when he was 17 days old (Yes 17 DAYS – what was I thinking?) We decided to go to Jackson Hole and spend some time as a family in the mountains. This meant we were shlepping ALL of the baby stuff, and the newborn, on a 5-hour drive to Jackson Hole. Arguably Beckham is not going to remember one tiny ounce of that trip. But I do. It was so reviving to get away from the stress and be with family and my brand new baby.
Our First Long Haul Flight With A Baby
Beck’s first long plane ride was when he was 5 months old and we were going to Hawaii as a family. People thought we were crazy! A baby on an 8-hour flight, overnight? What? He isn’t going to remember anything!
Yes, the flight was a challenge. Yes, we had to take an entire extra suitcase just for his crap. Yes, he slept on the beach half of the time. Yes, there were “fits on top of fits” every sunscreen application. And yes, there were some activities we missed out on because we were caring for a baby.
However, he was in Heaven. It was on sensory overload – the weather, animals, smells, colors, and sounds. It really was fantastic to watch him. I won’t ever forget seeing him mesmerized by the waves, and his reaction the first time he sat in the sand (spoiler alert – he hated it at first). He might not have realized how awesome it was that he was in Hawaii. But, he knew we were somewhere different, and we had a fantastic time as a family away from the ins and outs of the daily life we were navigating – work, school, and being new parents.
Taking Our 1-Year-Old to Europe
When Beckham was a year old, the entire family went to the United Kingdom for almost three weeks. The boys in the family had been dying to go on a golf trip. Stefen, Beckham and I were not about to stay behind just because it was going to be more of a challenge for us. It was hard – the flights, time-change, realities of naps and bottles, aunt and uncles trying to get him to throw a fit in the National Gallery (they still think it is hysterical to this day, and I so do not haha), and just the overall schedule shift.
All he wanted to do was climb on the headstones and pound on them to make noise while we were visiting Saint Andrews (laugh). He kept trying to crawl away from me after this picture.
Yet, I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. Overall, Beckham was a champ, and we honestly had the best time. Of course, he is not going to remember seeing Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait. Yet, children are making connections as they are forming their own paradigm of how they view the world.
The Science Behind It All
I am going to get all sciencey here (yes, I just totally made up the word “sciencey” as I try to sound all “academic” (laugh)); but, babies and young children make 1 million neural connections every second in their first years of life! The science behind children making connections is called brain architecture. Harvard Medical School has an amazing article that breaks it down – Brain Architecture Harvard Medical School.
Essentially young children are born with relatively few connections about the world around them. In the first couple of years of life, they take and process almost everything they see and experience to form neural pathways. The connections and pathways formed at the early stages of life become part of long term memory. That is why experts say read to your baby, snuggle with them, and sing to them as young children because this will shape them, even if they can’t remember it.
So, to all of those people who say it is worthless to take young children on trips that they won’t remember, to them I say – I disagree. The things Beckham sees, feels, and touches will shape him and the person he will become. Why wouldn’t every parent want their child to have a global education? His experiences will help him define his identity. I want Beckham to be a global citizen, to love different cultures and learning. Traveling together encourages that attitude.
Our Plans This Year
Just this year, we have plans to take Beckham to seven different countries. This is a little more than usual, but we have something super exciting in the works that we will share soon on our blog! We do not travel full time. We have lives, jobs, a home, neighbors, and daily responsibilities. Each trip takes work, time, and money that could be spent elsewhere. But, taking him to experience the world is right at the top of my priority list; I am willing to sacrifice other things so I can create these memories with him.
Why I Love Seeing Him Learn and My Hope For the Future
Becks has already become a travel expert. He can get himself through security. He holds his own passport (we watch him “like a hawk” (laugh)), gets himself on the airplane and into his seat, and honestly, about 90% of the time is a dream on flights. When we went to Bora Bora and flew for two days straight, he was perfect. He loves to travel and comes alive when seeing and doing new things. On our last trip, he was asking my husband about different skin colors and languages. He was clearly assimilating all of the new things he was experiencing and seeing.
He swam with sharks, fed monkeys, and shared his toys with cute little kids in a small Central American village. He’s seen more works of art than the average American college student and will not remember a thing. And you know what, I am okay with that (smile).
Traveling with my young child has brought us so close! We have so many experiences that we share together. I really do feel like these moments will not only shape him but shape our relationship to come.
What do you think about traveling with young kids? Worth it? Not?
If you want more information about family travel and how to help your child have a successful trip, read Our Family Passport’s article, 6 Tips to Prepare Your Child for an Upcoming Trip. Don’t forget to subscribe to their blog for insider family travel itineraries, tips, and ideas!
Meet the Smiths! We are an average family living in a crazy busy world, trying to juggle work, school, and family responsibilities. As a multi-generational family, we are always growing and changing. We have found that traveling all together with our family of eight (from the Grandparents on down to the little Grandbaby) provides a “time-out” where we can reconnect with the ones we love the most, without daily interruptions or distractions. We have been to six continents and over 40 countries together! Our family adventures are tremendously educational, and most of all, fun! It is our goal to encourage other families to take breaks together and go explore our amazing world!
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