A fellow mommy blogger, Miriam, contributed an article on Huffington Post last week on the 7 reasons why travel is never wasted on young kids.
I am a strong advocate that there is much to be gained for kids to start travelling at a very young age. So, after reading her article, I was delighted, thinking: “Hey, here is a mommy that shares my views on travelling with kids!”.
I particularly love her response to those who ask: “why do you travel so much with young kids? It’s not like they’ll remember any of it!”. That’s because I get that question ALL THE TIME!
And she has taught me a brilliant answer!! I hope as a fellow mommy blogger and parent, Miriam won’t mind that I borrow the way she handles her responses so I can use them against all those people who question our resolve and sanity of taking our young boys on trips with us.
Next time someone asks me, I’m going to follow suit and say something like: “well, then why take them to a playground, to the zoo or why pay for them to attend playgroup at such a young age? Why read them a book or organize an elaborate birthday party for them? They won’t remember any of those experiences either!”
“Travel is the same. Except wait, it’s even better. It’s about the experience. Of making memories together. And this is the part they will remember. Sure, travel doesn’t come for free, but what is priceless are the learning opportunities and character shaping possibilities that it provides especially for young children.” Miriam
All of Miriam’s 7 reasons ring true for us – not once did we think bringing our boys with us on our trips was a waste – neither in money or experience. While we do plan kids’ activities on our trips, we do not dedicate our whole trip to amusements parks, zoos, locations or activities for kids only. Our mantra is: “wherever we go, they go”. So, at one and a half, Joshua enjoyed 4 hours at the St Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum sitting high up on his baby backpack. Last year, the boys sat through an hour long lecture by the famous Malcolm Miller on specific stain-glass windows of the Chartres Cathedral in France! The year before, they went cellar door hopping with us through Tuscany while being rewarded with little sips of Chianti Classico along the way!
In Miriam’s article, certain reasons why travel is never wasted on young kids particularly resonated with me – these are: Reasons 1 (Travel has enhanced their developmental milestones), 5 (Travel has made them more curious and instilled in them a love for adventure) and 7 (Travel has made them interested in geography, world maps, and airplanes).
I have mentioned in my earlier post (Travelling with babies: Take Courage, Start Early!), and I very much agree that, all the sensory experiences while travelling enhance and accelerate children’s developmental growth. I also believe it allows them to recall their memories much earlier. My 4 year old can remember famous landmarks he saw 2 years back. My 3 year old takes our Mona Lisa magnet off our fridge and reminds us that we saw that painting at a museum in Paris (that happened 6 months before when he was two and a half!).
Our boys are always curious, always willing to try new things and always excited for new adventures around the corner. When we told them we are visiting South Africa this coming Chinese New Year holidays, the first thing they did was run to the large world map on our wall to try and find South Africa on the African continent. Then they stretched and linked their little hands all the way to Asia and commented: “Mommy, Africa is a long way from home, we need to go to the airport and take an airplane to get there!”
In addition to Miriam’s 7, I would like to venture 3 more reasons why travel is never wasted on young kids:
- Travel has allowed them to appreciate the cuisines and tastes of the world
Travelling has exposed our boys to different types of cuisines, and they are always excited to sample and try different and unique tastes. They know that sushi is from Japan, pasta and prosciutto are from Italy, the best baguettes are from France, chicken rice is from Singapore and we eat sausage rolls in Australia. Our house rule is that they must try and take a bite – if they don’t like it, then it’s fine, but they must taste it first. Often the case is, once they have taken that first bite, they come back for more!
- Travel has made them more independent, confident and become problem solvers
I find that the more children are exposed to new cultures, new languages, new environments and different types of people, and adapt to changes and new ways of doing things while travelling, they grow to become more independent, more confident, more curious and more mature. Jayden at 2 years old already started asking how (in terms of transport) we get to places and that we need to pack our luggage first and head to the airport. Joshua at 4 years old can already sense whether we have taken a wrong turn and ask “Are we lost? Shouldn’t we turn around and go back that way?”.
- Travel has made them realise that we are lucky and privileged
Children are wonderful observers and travelling has made them examine the varying living conditions of other places and people and compare it with their home or what they have. In Danang, Jayden noticed and asked why the local Vietnamese village kids not wear shoes. Joshua commented on the amount of rubbish gathered by the seaside and how we need to help and save the world. Those observations are great lessons for them to learn to appreciate what they already have, and that we all have a part to play as citizens of this world.
So, if you ask me, “wasted vs worth it”? I’m with Miriam. Seeing our boys’ all round growth after each and every trip makes all the stress, challenges and fatigue all the more WORTH IT!