Why do we bother taking our little kids on big adventures? Traveling with kids is intimidating, expensive and time consuming, right? It’s easy to think so, especially if your family didn’t travel a lot when you were a kid, or if your social circle isn’t full of friends taking trips with their children.
I'm not going to lie, traveling with little ones has its challenges, but it also has great benefits for our family. Whenever I attempt something difficult, its natural and logical to me to need reasons and motivation. Think about other challenging experiences in life, like going to college, running a marathon (or any other distance, running is hard!) or choosing to find a new job. The fact that these things are hard or require some planning don't keep you from doing them. The motivations and rewards are worth it.
So what makes it worth it to us? Why do we do it?
We like traveling.
We traveled a lot before we had kids. We moved to another country 10 months into our first year of marriage. We ran through the Malaysian jungle during a rainstorm. We drank $1 beers on plastic, kid-sized chairs in the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. We hiked to see the snow monkeys in Nagano, Japan. We cried at the Hiroshima peace museum. We fed rehabilitated elephants in Chiang Mai, Thailand. We ate street food in Singapore. We watched a Sumo tournament in Tokyo. We traveled to Stonehenge, the Eiffel Tower, and the Coliseum. But it’s not all international travel. We also rang in New Years Eve in Chicago. We saw a midnight show at the Comedy Cellar in New York City. We road tripped across various states to see friends and family.
Some of this we did before we had kids. Some of this we did while I was pregnant. Some of this we did with a baby, a toddler, or a baby and a toddler together. Can you guess which? Does it matter? We like to travel.
So they can learn by seeing the world.
It's one thing to read about a place in book or see it in a movie. It's another to experience things in person. I’ll never forget the way my daughter's eyes lit up seeing the Eiffel Tower, talking about the shapes we see and the size of it while standing in it’s shadow, waiting for darkness to arrive so we can watch it sparkle. Then when it did she whispered that it was magical... That’s not going to come from any book or movie.
To introduce them to different cultures.
I want my kids to see a cathedral. A mosque. A temple. I want them to ask questions. I want them to see open air vendors selling strange goods, fruit stalls with fruits we’ve never found at our grocery store, and eat places that don’t have chicken nuggets or mac-n-cheese on the menu. I want them to see a marble statue, a mosaic, an oil painting and know that the definition of beauty changes from culture to culture.
To know life doesn’t revolve around them.
We may go to a tour or museum because my husband or myself is interested - and the kids need to come along, even if they may not want to. They learn they can’t yell in the airplane or restaurant because it ruins the experience of the people around them. They have to wait in a line for our turn - sometimes many lines. They can think of others and buy them souvenirs or write them a postcard. Traveling is a great way for kids to learn life isn’t all about them.
To instill them with a sense of adventure.
I might regret it one day (especially if my daughters choose to live across the globe from me) but I want them to have the desire for adventure, wherever they chose to live it.
Because we CAN.
I can just see the conversation happening now…
Kid: “Mom how much is in my college fund”.
Me: “Here! look at this photo album from Italy...and France...and England… and…”
We have the financial means to travel right now. Yes, we do save for our future and for our children. But we also try to be responsible in our daily life so we can spend our extra money traveling. I've worked on minimizing the things we "need" so we can stop buying stuff and instead buy experiences. These experiences and memories are where we want to invest money. We also find ways to make our travel more affordable like utilizing reward credit cards, choosing road trips over flights for shorter trips, and finding places to stay with kitchens so we can cook some of our own meals. If there's a will, there's a way.
We like traveling.
Did I already mention this one? It’s worth repeating.
It book ended my list of reasons because it's the most important one.
We travel with our kids because we love to travel! Traveling as a family brings us closer, challenges us, and creates amazing memories. Our passion for travel didn’t stop or get put on hold when our daughters joined our life. It just gave us new reasons to do it.
What's your motivation? Do you want to show your kids the world? Do you want to step out of your comfort zone? Do you just need a change from the daily life and want an adventures? Don't put it off. Take the plunge. Start an adventure!