I truly enjoy exploring this amazing world with my children
in tow racing ahead. By experiencing these wonders first hand, we are giving our children roots and wings. Here are some of my favorite things about traveling with my children:
1. Their unbridled excitement
Seeing a place for the first time, children are often overcome with excitement and joy. They can’t hold still – feet tapping back and forth, huge smiles across their faces.
I think it is interesting to see what captures the fancy of our children. For example, when we were in Florence, we went to the Galleria dell’Accademia to see Michelangelo’s David. The amazing work of art didn’t even phase our son, Liam. He kept making multiple trips back to see the “men hiding in the rocks” (Michelangelo’s Prisoners). In fact, for the remainder of the trip he kept talking about them.
Their animation (both good and bad) is amusing.
2. Their willingness to try something new with abandon
When kids do something, they go all out and never hold back. Watching your children meet and learn about other cultures without any preconceived ideas, expectations or prejudices is something that we could all learn from.
We want our kids to be open to change, to act on their curiosity and to make dreams a reality. Traveling provides an accelerated platform to do this.
When my mother and I took the kids to the Highland Gathering in Calvert County, Maryland, we heard several other children snickering about the “skirts” that the men were wearing. When children are exposed to travel from a young age, they will realize that differences don’t necessarily make us better, they make people as a whole, unique.
While my children might be too young to have great memories of the travel we are doing now when they are babies and toddlers, they do get used to the travel lifestyle. They can amuse themselves (with some help from us) for 11 hours on a plane, they can transfer from one mode of transportation to another with ease, and they learn that there is more to this great earth than what is around the corner.
Start now! It is much easier to teach a baby or child to travel than to start teaching a teenager to travel.
3. The uninterrupted family time
When you are home, there are always compromises when it comes to spending time together as a family. If y’all are anything like us, I wake up after hitting snooze one time (too many), rush to get ready for work and to have the kids eat breakfast, drop them off at day care, sit in traffic for an hour trying to make it downtown, work until 5pm only to sit in at least another hour of traffic to get home, pick the kids up, open the door at home to screaming cats ready to be fed and a dog that needs to go outside, piece together something to eat for dinner, take the dog for a walk, play/read with the kids, give them a bath and then get them to bed. Just looking at all of that makes me tired!
On a side note, I just ordered Brigid Schulte’s book, Overwhelmed: How to Work, Love and Play when No One Has the Time. I picked the audio version of course – so I can make use of the two hours in the car on the way to and from work. Based on her presentation as a key note speaker, I think she would consider sitting in traffic “leisure time”. I can’t wait to apply some of her tips to make the most of our busy schedule!!
In order to have time to get away as a family, you should start investing in travel. Make time for it. Period.
Adam and I invested in a Hilton Vacation Ownership so we can “learn the art of living in the present; to focus on the joy of being together and in the moment.” We enjoy the flexibility in both time and location that the Hilton offers us however, it doesn’t have to be like this. Anything counts. Start small. Pick a destination that intrigues you (near or far), start planning and putting away money monthly so that you can get away.
4. You are enhancing their education outside of the classroom
Our teachers are amazing, however learning shouldn’t be isolated to the classroom. It starts, first and foremost, at home. I can’t wait for my children to start learning about history, geography and science (and more!) in school so that we can tie in the subjects that they are learning about to our travels. To see them experience things that they are learning about first hand will be very rewarding.
Yes, things will be different when traveling but use these differences as teaching moments for your kids. There are ways to make learning fun. Prior to your trip, you can use books to introduce your children to an area of the world or you can even spice it up a bit more by incorporating games. “Not your typical travel guides, Mission Rome (and other cities) ensures a fun vacation for everyone with a captivating, spy-theme scavenger hunt packed with fun activities and the fascinating stories behind the city’s landmarks”.
Our children are too young (1 and 3 years) to be in school, but I have heard from other parents that schools are no longer accepting excused absences. I’ve already made the decision that my children will never have perfect attendance because they will be out experiencing the world. Just go for it.
It is different to read about things in books when you can experience them first hand. Sure, you can read about plantation houses in the south, stalactites and stalagmites in caverns, artistic masterpieces and the World Wars – but it is different when you are actually swabbing the deck on a battleship or sitting in a gunner’s chair.
5. Their universal language
Children are full of smiles and brimming with laughter which are understood in all languages. Laughter is infectious and children have a funny way of making even the most grumpy people crack a smile.
Children can open doors where they might otherwise be locked. They are conversation starters. If I were walking through a market and grabbed a plum and started walking off, I would probably be carted off to jail for stealing.
Liam on the other hand, walked right up to a stall in the market outside of our apartment in Venice, grabbed a plum and turned to us. Embarrassed, I tried to get him to place it back on the table before he started taking everything. Before I knew it, the owner rushed over to us and started giving him more and more fruit – wanting him to try fruits that he had never seen before.
Because the market was right next to where we were staying, we passed by several times per day. Each time, the kind shop owner would pick Liam up and let him choose a piece of fruit to take with us on our journey. He was such a nice man (and a great businessman) we purchased all of our fresh produce from him during our stay.
Another example as we were walking through the streets of Florence one night, we came upon a violinist, bassist and several brass players giving a street performance. The crowds had naturally circled around them to listen to the music. Liam noticed a little girl his age (2.5 years old) across the crowd. He ran over to say hello and then ran back. Ran over again and ran back. The band noticed this little game and took advantage of the moment by starting to play Beauty and the Beast. The entire crowd was watching. When Liam ran over again he brought the little girl a bracelet and she started to take off her top. Everyone started to laugh hysterically. They hugged and ran back to mom and dad. You could hear awwwwwwws all around.
Did it matter that these two didn’t speak the same language? No. Did it matter that some people had come to just listen to the music and not have disruptive little kids around? No. Every person in that crowd was amused with the little ‘show’ that the kids were putting on and it brought smiles all around.
6. The look on their face when they try a new food.
Let’s be honest…kids make the faces that you WANT to make when tasting some of the local cuisines. One of our first nights traveling in Ireland was spent at a small hotel that had a quaint restaurant/pub attached. Liam was 6 months old, so we were picking out food that he would be able to eat. The menu had all of the typical foods that you would think to see in Ireland and as we were scrolling down the page, I stopped at an item that sounded perfect for him – ‘mushy peas’!
First of all, why do you need the ‘mushy’ in the name? Aren’t all peas kinda mushy?
As soon as the mushy peas hit his tongue, he made the most awful face!! I wish I would have captured it on camera. He couldn’t get the peas out of his mouth fast enough. It was quite funny.
Finally, your kids might give you a few grey hairs while traveling
Like when I thought I lost my son in the Colosseum in Rome which I can’t wait to tell y’all about in a future post, but they make you look at things through a child’s eyes. If we all could see the world through eyes of a child, we would see the magic in everything.
Continue taking your kids with you on adventures and you can learn from each other in the process!
Please share, why do you love traveling with your family?