Now that we have discussed almost all of our credit cards, we will be moving on to the second and third most frequent questions we get asked:
- How can I travel with kids – especially very little ones?
- Why would I go through the trouble of doing it?
- Isn’t it a lot of work?
- Is it worth the investment of time, energy, money and effort?
The obvious answer to the first question is YES! And IT IS a lot of work. But let’s forget about the “hows” for now (we’ll come back to it later) and focus on the second question: why?
It is a good question because traveling with kids – especially little ones may not be for everyone. The answer to why? for you may be very different than the answer to why? for us too. Answering this question ahead of one of our upcoming trips that we are about to take (we leave next week) will help you when traveling with a child gets difficult. So here is the answer to why? for us…your reasons may be the same, or they may be entirely different, but asking why early on really is helpful because when you have moments that are difficult. It will help you remind yourself why you are traveling with a small child (or older children too for that matter).
So here are the three biggest reasons for us:
- Because we love traveling and want to include our child in it.
- Because we, at some points, have either had to or have decided that it would be the best thing for us as a family.
- Because we believe it is valuable for all of us, J included.
In a nutshell, these three reasons cover why we have traveled so much with J. Its also why most people I have talked with travel with little kids. So lets look at both of these answers and consider them.
We love to travel and want to include our child in what we love doing
This really isn’t that different than including your child in anything else that you might love. If you love football for instance, you are probably going to immerse your child in experiences that will give them an appreciation for it. You will start when they are really young because its just a part of you. You will decorate your child’s room in Cowboys or Longhorns (I’m from Texas y’all) or whatever your favorite team is and dress them up in onesies that proclaim your love of that team. Your child will grow up knowing that the game is on and who Mommy and Daddy’s favorite teams are. They will hear you talking about the games. They will go to games with you from a young age. You will do this before they are born and will continue throughout their lives as they are growing up.
Why? Because you love it and want to include your child in what you love. You do this because you want to experience it with them. You want to be able to talk about it with them and you want them to experience it with you. When your child first screams in excitement over a game, you get excited too. Its the same with anything that you love. If its a love of literature, you get excited when your kids can understand the theme of your favorite stories. Its the same for parents that love board games, crafts or running marathons. You want to bring your child along because you want them to love it too. Thats why you push those jogging strollers for 10K. Travel is no different. If it is something that you love, then you want to share it with your child.
When challenges arise, you figure out ways to make it work. You get them used to riding a long time in that jogging stroller even when it is ridiculously hot or cold out. You also take pride when they begin liking and discovering what you love for themselves. You get excited when your child makes that first squiggle with paint or claps for your favorite team. They probably wouldn’t just naturally like any of these activities just by themselves. You teach them to like them and participate in them. Travel is the same.
We, at some points, have either had to or have decided that it would be the best thing for us as a family
So maybe you don’t love travel that much by yourself, but circumstances dictate that you will have to travel with your kids. When J was six months old, we had to move back from Japan to the US. This wasn’t something we chose, it is just what happened. Not only that, but Anthony had to do five months of job training before we would reach our “permanent” destination….nothing beats five months of living out of a suitcase with a baby.
Beyond that, while my family is in Texas as well, they are not very close to where we live. My parents live four hours away and the rest of the family is farther. Anthony’s family is from the Northeast and his extended family is spread out from Toronto, Michigan, California and the Philippines. In other words – if we want J to know his grandparents, great-grandma, aunts and uncles at all (which we do!), we have to travel. Many families across the US and the world are in the same situation. Your parents may be in another country. You may have to cross three continents to see grandma and grandpa.
The good news is that this has gotten a lot easier over the years. When my mom was growing up in Ghana, her family had to take a ship to either Europe or Brazil and then another to get to Ghana. Thankfully things have changed! My mom’s family could only return home every few years. We have the ability now to come and go much more frequently and easily. The bottom line is that many of us travel to some extent because we have to. Since that is the case, we can focus on making it a good experience no matter what our reasons for going.
We believe it is valuable for all of us, children included
Travel has made us better people. I have been humbled and challenged by the different perspectives I have encountered as we have traveled. I have been the undeserved beneficiary of someone else’s hospitality and kindness more times than I could possibly recount while we have been on the road. From dinners we have shared with fellow travelers, the unexpected moments of revelation as we have talked and interacted with everyone from wait staff to taxi drivers to fellow airline, train or bus passengers – this is why we love it.
That’s not to say there aren’t frustrating moments – there definitely are – but often it is the very act of working through those frustrating moments that teaches us something even more valuable. Travel makes me hopeful. It makes me optimistic. The world is full of wonderful, terrible, amazing, hideous and incredible things – those that we have made and those that exist in nature. Every time we leave two things happen simultaneously: I want to see so much more, yet I am happy to get back to the familiar again.
Anthony and I want J to understand this as well. We take the familiar for granted if we lose our curiosity. But it doesn’t take much to kindle our curiosity. Just going one town over is often enough to accomplish this – travel doesn’t need to be about going far, just about going deep wherever you go. We do this instinctively when we travel to see grandparents – because they aren’t around all the time. We spend more time with them while we are there than we would if we saw them everyday. We want J to love and learn from his grandparents, the rest of our family and from others around the world. Their input is invaluable in that they may see things that we don’t or consider something in a way that we haven’t thought about.
I am not saying that we want just any random person influencing our child. What I am saying is that just going from a city to a grandparents small town or from the suburban community to a beachside one can give the child a perspective that they might not otherwise have. Travel, no matter how big or small, is valuable.
What would you add to this list? Why do you travel? You may have some of the same reasons and you likely have many of your own reasons. Those why’s will look different for everyone. Thinking through those reasons ahead of time will help you focus when you do go (I need to spend more time with Grandma today – that is why I came here). Those reasons will get you through the times when travel gets so frustrating that you are regretting leaving in the first place (like when your flight is delayed until 2am and your nine month old is screaming in the airport). The reason for going is always worth the frustration of the occasional momentary crisis.