Why I Love Traveling More with My Kids
Many of my friends with children have expressed a fear and resistance towards traveling with their kids - it will be too difficult, too inconvenient, too exhausting, and not worth it enough. The kids won’t remember it. We won’t be able to see much. It’s too much trouble.
And I totally agree. And I also totally disagree.
It is definitely difficult, inconvenient, and exhausting. But it is always worth it. And with small changes to the way you approach trips and by significantly lowering your expectations, you’ll find it isn’t as scary or troublesome as you might imagine.
And while I have never been and am not currently an avid world traveler (I wish!) I have found there are so many ways that I love traveling more when I’m with my children than without them.
1.Traveling with my children forces me to slow down.
When on my own or traveling with my husband I would be inclined to be on the go from morning until evening, traveling with my children really thins out the itinerary. We’ve found we can often only fit in 1 or 2 activities into a day and this makes us really consider what experiences are important to us. We spend a lot more time leisurely enjoying a meal or strolling through a park, and a lot more time in playgrounds and piazzas. We even take nap breaks! Being well rested and approaching each day with only 1 or 2 goals makes everything feel less intense and more successful.
2. I spend more time in places where locals gather
As I mentioned above, when traveling with my children we make it a priority to find local playgrounds and parks. Kids need time to play and let their energy out! And it’s here that we frequently meet other local families who give us incredible tips on restaurants and activities more suited for families.
3. We get to imagine what it is like to live there
Because we get a lot of recommendations from other locals with kids, we get a little peek into what it might be like to live in that place. We often stay in homes off the beaten path and get to observe locals in their daily routines. We get to see a place from a completely different view.
4. Easy conversation starters
Kids are seriously the ultimate conversation starters. They catch a stranger’s eye and next thing you know you’ve got a small crowd gathered around sweet talking your baby. Or maybe your child throws a piece of food and it lands on a stranger’s table. Or maybe your toddler pushes another kid at the playground - the possibilities are endless! And they almost always end in a conversation with a person you might not have spoken with otherwise. Some of my favorite moments in travel have been sweet moments with strangers like this.
5. It changes my expectations
My number one advice for traveling with children would be to lower your expectations. Don’t expect things to go perfectly or for it to always be fun. Don’t expect to actually go everywhere you plan to go or to look flawless in the photo in front of the Eiffel Tower. But when you lower your expectations a bit, suddenly everything that does go well feels like a huge win. You appreciate the small moments more, celebrate the small successes, and put a lot less pressure on the whole experience.
6. i Notice the small things
Your child probably won’t be that impressed with Michelangelo’s David, but might be completely floored by a cool rock or compact Italian car. This doesn’t mean you have to skip any of the big stuff, but a child’s excitement for the small stuff is so contagious. And when traveling and even “normal” things are different - like buildings and cars and streets and plants - the entire trip suddenly becomes so much more exciting. Lots of little hands shouting and pointing and cheering for pigeons. It’s beautiful.
7. I become a memory keeper
A common argument for not traveling with small children is that they won’t remember it. But the point of traveling - or life itself - is not just to hold memories for the future...it’s being able to experience things in the moment. It can still be special and wonderful and worth it even in just that moment. And in those first years, I become their memory keeper. It becomes my job to cherish all the small moments and to hold them closely on behalf of my child.
If there’s any takeaway from this blog post, I hope any of you who currently have young children or that hope to someday will be less afraid of traveling with them and instead see how much beauty is possible. It won’t always be easy, it won’t always be fun, but it will always be worth it.
What is your favorite place to travel with kids or where do you look forward to taking your children? Tell us in the comments below or on Instagram. And don’t forget that this month we’ll be featuring YIREH travel stories in a special newsletter - tag your photos and stories with #yirehtravels so we can follow along.