I think any parent can attest that traveling with children is difficult. I’m fairly certain that just as many parents would attest to the fact that traveling with their children is also infinitely rewarding – both for them and for their children. When Ryan and I first got married, we had big dreams of traveling the world and seeing it in style. We got pregnant quickly, however, and with our first PCS shortly thereafter, our travel dreams were postponed for a while. And, for some time, it seemed like we’d never travel again because, let’s be honest, traveling with children is hard.
However, we’ve now added to our brood yet again, and we’ve actually traveled more with two children than we did solely as a couple. And, though hard, it’s been incredible to experience the world together as a family. Travel is high on our list of priorities – whether domestic or international – and we’ve made a point of getting out and seeing the sights (even those around us) no matter what. But why, you ask, should you travel with your children if it’s so hard? Here are five great reasons to suck it up and just do it!
Traveling broadens their view of the world
One of the hardest things about military life is also one of the best things we can offer our children, I think. It allows our children to see and experience new things in new places with new people. Traveling the country, as well as the world, is much the same. If we keep them in the same corner of the world for their entire childhood, they’ll have an extremely limited view of what the world truly is, as well as all that is around them. Take, for example, our trip to South Africa last year. They experienced native Afrikaaners, met family whose first language isn’t English, and tasted new things. While they may not remember the minutiae, those little bits will be forever imprinted on them nonetheless.
Travel encourages them to be bold
Traveling for my boys is an adventure, regardless of the intricacies of the journey it takes to get there. They learn to step outside of their comfort zones, meet new people, and make new friends. Watching my boys interact with other children shows me that they’re learning how to integrate themselves in new communities that may be unfamiliar or, at times, even unsettling. They learn new habits, see new things, and adapt to new routines, all which challenge them to step out of their shell and be more bold.
They learn to be comfortable with discomfort
Let’s be honest, airplane travel with kids isn’t always sunshine and roses. There’s altitude, a lack of space, and a general feeling of going stir crazy. However, by traveling with your children, you’re teaching them to become acquainted with discomfort and its varying degrees. Or, perhaps, they have to deal with humidity and a lack of air conditioning while at the beach. Maybe there are mosquitoes that pester them to no end. Whatever the scenario, they carry similarities to everyday life, as well, and getting them acquainted while they’re young only serves to set them up for success.
It teaches them to try new things
If we hadn’t taken the boys to Canada while we lived in New York, they’d likely never have tried poutine. If we’d chosen to fly instead of drive the six days across the country to reach Fort Lewis, they’d never have tried climbing a silo to see the plains of South Dakota. They’ve sledded down steep hills in New Hampshire, dug holes on the beaches in South Carolina, watched the boats sail by in Chicago, and so much more. Each little activity, sight, and sound gives them an opportunity to try something new.
Adventure imprints on their souls
Above and beyond anything else, travel is adventure. It’s beautiful, foreign (sometimes literally), interesting, and inspiring. Those are feelings that are both tangible and intangible, and they fuel the fires for more adventure, more travel, and more living. Adventure is something that can never be taken away and can only be fueled and fed until it’s later passed onto the next generations. Seeing the world through their awe-filled eyes doesn’t hurt either…and it makes adventure that more exciting for you, too.
I’ve often heard people say that travel is wasted on the the youth, and I’d have to disagree. The first time I went to the Netherlands, I was 13. I was jet-lagged, exhausted, and overwhelmed for much of it, but so many of those memories are ingrained in me. Like the time that we went to a cheese farm and sample fresh sheep and goat cheese. To this day, the rich, ripe smell is imprinted in my mind, though it’s more rosy when I look back at it now. Or, the time we went swimming in the North Sea and didn’t realize it was a nude beach until it was too late. These are the things I remember with fondness and laughter, and I can’t wait to continue giving the same gift to my boys.