Anthony and I were avid travellers prior to having our daughter, although we expected this to slow down once we had kids. After the initial newborn baby ‘far out, what have our lives become’ stage, we settled into a routine, life became a little easier and we started toying with the idea of travelling with Eva. She was great on long drives in the car to visit her grandparent’s interstate; surely she would be the same on a plane? We tested this theory on a short trip to the Sunshine Coast. Like most four month olds on an Aeroplane, Eva slept for most of the flight and then screamed on the descent. This is the part where I’m supposed to tell you that I was terribly embarrassed and worried what the other passengers were thinking but I wasn’t. All I cared about was that my daughter’s little ears were hurting and, thanks to my short stint as a flight attendant, I knew that her screaming was actually helping ease the pain. It only lasted a few minutes before the screaming stopped and we started what was to be a fantastic family holiday.
A few months later when Eva was eight months old we decided to take a trip to Singapore and I’m so glad we did, as it has been the start of some amazing international holidays for our little family. At not yet two years of age, Eva has travelled to Singapore, Dubai and visited California twice. When contemplating travelling with a baby or a toddler the thought of juggling bags, bottles and prams might seem overwhelming but the benefits you will get from experiencing new countries and adventures with your child will far outweigh these short-lived concerns. Here are ten reasons why travelling with kids is awesome:
- Cultural Experience Experiencing different cultures and races is something that you can’t teach from a book. This is the making of a real ‘worldly’ human being. Try to immerse yourself, and your children, in the culture of a new place as much as you can.
- Organisational Skills Understanding the process of getting ready for travel, including packing is something you should involve your children in. It’s also a good idea to explain the process of going on an Aeroplane and having to be at the airport on time!
- Improve food palate Eating a range of different foods and trying different flavours is always fun to experience with your child. Eating out everyday is also great for teaching your child how to behave in a restaurant.
- Learn Generosity There is no doubt that seeing the poverty and daily life struggles in some countries is eye opening for adults, and we should allow this to be a learning experience for our children. We all know that children learn from our actions, so a few gold coins to a homeless person or a generous tip to a driver can set our children up for how to share with others.
- Processes and Procedures Waiting for your suitcase at the airport isn’t fun for anyone, but it teaches your children about processes – we take our suitcase to the airport, it goes on the Aeroplane, and we get it at the other end. It may sound simple (and tedious), but it will only take a couple of times of doing this before your child understands the process and won’t whine so much next time you’re watching suitcases on the conveyor belt.
- It’s Fun People like to tell you that a two year old won’t remember visiting Disneyland (I’ve heard it so many times now!), and that might be true, but riding the teacups and meeting Mickey Mouse is so much fun anyway. Why wouldn’t you want to have fun with your child now? Why wait until they can remember it?
- Acclimatisation Few of us are fortunate enough to experience extreme temperatures in the city where we live (except if you live in Melbourne where we seem to get it all in one day!). How wonderful to be able to experience the wonders of the snow and tobogganing with your children one year and the heat of the Dubai desert another.
- Confidence When travelling we tend to speak to more people, more often than we do at home. This is the same for your child. In the hotel, in restaurants and at tourist attractions your child will meet so many people. Teach them to say hello back, say their name and where they’re from. You might be surprised how much excitement your child gets from the response of new friends.
- Hard work = Reward It’s a good lesson for children to know that when mummy and daddy go to work it is to earn money (among other things) and that with money we can treat ourselves to holidays. Buying experiences rather than material items is always a good lesson in value for money.
- Hunger to Learn Enjoying holidays and different cultures with your children will encourage their natural desire to learn.
The other day I was in Eva’s room folding her clothes and she came in, grabbed her little suitcase and wheeled it toward the door with a swift “bye mum”. I asked, “where are you going Eva?” “I go Singapore” was her response and off she toddled. I wonder how old she will be when she does say goodbye to me to travel on her own? I’ll continue to enjoy our family travels until then. Have you travelled, or do you plan to travel, with your children? Please tell me all about it – the good and the bad – in the comments below.