Before I traveled with young kids, I was deathly afraid of traveling with young children and couldn’t understand why anyone would do it.

I remember reading pieces like Don’t bring your child on a plane or Leave your kid at home next time

But another thing stuck with me as well.  When I was young, single and traveling the world I would see young happy children living in these amazing places that I was going to.  AND I would see families traveling with their little ones!

The two pictures didn’t mesh well in my mind- “don’t travel with kids” and “little kids are experiencing things all over the world”.

So when my boys were born, my husband and I started thinking about how we could travel around the world with our little ones.  And I’m so glad we did.  Here are 8 reasons why traveling with kids is the best:

1. You don’t always get what you want.  Yep, it sounds like a nightmare to most parents (and toddlers) that when you are traveling you don’t always get your way.  This can end up in a tantrum.  It happens.  But when you are home, you have the temptation to give in to your kiddo.  When you are traveling, and your child wants a particular snack, a different kind of wipe, a blue cup instead of a yellow cup, they have to learn how to deal with what you have.  It can be rough for a short bit, but most kids are fast learners.  Once they realize that there is no pizza hut, they get over it.  For the first week of traveling with 2 three-year olds, they didn’t eat much because all the food we had was different, but now, they will eat mostly whatever is offered to them.

2. Building awareness.  Again, this one has a learning curve and it was something that we started before we traveled and has only grown.  I’ve written about mindfulness before and believe that it is a very important topic.  It is tempting to find ways to entertain our kids when we travel but one of the huge benefits of traveling is building awareness for our world and seeing all the amazing things out there.  Children will be fascinated with what is going on outside the plane, on the road, or next to them on the bus so allow them to just watch and ask questions.

3. Trying new things. We often get into ruts and although routines are a good thing, doing something different is also a good thing.  Especially when your kids are young.  I found that as an adult with young children, I didn’t always feel like an adult.  I felt like my life revolved so much around the young kids that I always ate the same food, I would draw silly pictures and play with blocks on the floor and I just needed something else!   When we traveled, I tried new foods (and my kids did too!).  I looked for hermit crabs on the beach instead of blocks on the floor.  I heard different music and went to new places.  It was all very invigorating for me and the children.

4. Letting go of expectations.  Have you always made your child wear shoes since you know that they could step on something sharp?  Do you stress about how many vegetables your child has eaten in one day?  I’ve done all these things and more- until I traveled with my little ones.  The one expectation that I haven’t dropped- seat belts.

5. Seeing how differently other cultures raise children.  Kids menus don’t exist in many other places in the world (unless they are heavily visited by North Americans).  Children climb trees without supervision in some places.   My friend in France said that young children went to the bakery by themselves in the morning to get the family baguette.  I’m not saying that these things are better or worse, but just observing or even experiencing another way to raise children is such an eye-opening experience.

6. Getting your routine down to a science.  I talk about creating a routine all the time.  It creates structure and security for a child and improves behavior drastically.  Traveling will take your routine to the next level.  If you always read two books before bedtime, then you will use that routine to help your child fall asleep in any old place.   If you always sing the same song before nap time, then you have that amazing tool to let your child know that it is nap time even though your are 5 hours off from your regular time zone.  Having a routine in place allows you to travel with children by changing everything else- except the routine.

7. Not having to worry about school. Once your children are in first grade, it is much much much more difficult to travel.  Every school is different, but most schools require attendance and will put you in touch with the truancy officer after missing more than 10 days of school.  But this gives you a pretty big window of about 6 years to travel with your little ones.

8. Paring down and traveling light- The first time we traveled with our 1.5 year old twins, we took two carry on bags for two weeks at the beach.  Now, most travel sites will recommend planning ahead and making sure that you have everything that you need.  Those two sentences may not look synonymous but they are compatible.   See, you do need to plan ahead, and you do need to bring everything you need, but when you travel, you really get down to the questions of “what do you really need?”  Do you really need that noise maker enough to haul it around?  Are toys that important or can your children play with sticks and string?  Can you get away with not bringing the special nose cleaner outer or the spoons that your children request everyday?  When you travel, you realize what you actually need and what is truly important.

Book your ticket today!

For the longest time, I never knew that people actually traveled with young children.  In fact, for most of my life, I thought that it was something that everyone avoided.

But then I started traveling as a young adult and I saw all of these people traveling with their young children and I started asking questions.  I started thinking that someday, I might have children and someday, I might want to travel with them.

Which is exactly what we did.  So after traveling with our little ones for a year and a half, I have compiled my top ten list of why you should also travel with your young’uns

1) To show yourself that you can.

I’m not going to lie and say that it is easy, but it is something that you can and should do.  Before we traveled with our young children, I would lie in bed at night and think of all the reasons that we shouldn’t.  What if the boys fuss?  What if they don’t sleep?  What if we don’t sleep?  What if our car breaks down?  Things can and do happen, but that doesn’t mean you can’t travel.  You survived sleeping on the airport floor.  You children got through three days of not-so-appetizing food.  You realize that you can do just about anything.  

2) To get out of your routine

In pretty much every other post I write, I talk about routine and how important it is.  That is still true.  But traveling gets you out of your routine and in a good way.  If you are stuck eating sugary snacks every day, traveling can get you out of that routine.  If you are in a routine of late bedtimes, it’s possible that traveling will get you out of that routine.  Either way, you are changing stuff up.

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3) Mindfulness

It is so tempting to bring along technology and screens to entertain the young ones, but traveling with young children is a great way to instill and teach mindfulness.  Once you are out and about in the world and you see young children sitting on buses for hours on end, you realize that this is possible and yes, your child can do it.  It requires more work up front talking to your child about all the things around them (“Oh wow, those trees look different than all the rest.” “Whoa! I just saw another white bird!”) but the payoff is huge once they are doing it themselves.

4) To get along with less stuff

When you travel, you can’t bring it all with you so you really have to pare down.  That means not as many toys, not as many gadgets and not as much stuff.  After a short bit, you realize that you didn’t need it in the first place.  And when you children start playing with dirt, sticks, string and rocks, you realize that the best toys are the ones you don’t need to buy.

5) To try new things

If you are like me, you don’t always jump into things head first.  So trying new things doesn’t always come easily.  But when you have no choice; you just do it.  It builds character and it builds your child’s character as well.

6) No school issue

Once kids are in school, planning gets a little bit more difficult.  Some schools don’t mind if you miss a lot of school to travel and some schools won’t allow it at all.  To avoid the headache completely, travel while they are young.

7) To build brain pathways

I remember my uncle asking me why we were traveling when the boys were 3 and 4 years old. “They won’t remember any of it”, he said.  He’s right in a way, but the travel will make an imprint.  The new languages, the new people, the new experiences.  They will affect how they grow and how they experience life even if they don’t remember it.

8) To deal with the “I-want-this-this-way” in a real way

Young children will throw tantrums for the smallest things.  “I want the red cup!  No! I want the blue cup!”  Well, guess what, when we are traveling, we have whatever cup is available and no other options.   We don’t have the specific bread that they like and nope, we can’t do that one thing that they want to do because it is on the other side of the world.  Children are more resilient than we think and traveling puts that into perspective. 

9) To see how other families live

Perspective is really everything (in raising children and in life).  When you travel and see how simply some people live, you begin to appreciate the small things more.  When you see how other children eat, play and communicate, you get more insight into your own children and parenting.  

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10) To enjoy your family

Kids grow up so fast.  We hear that everyday and it seems like it is taking forever, but it is really gone in a second.  When you travel while your kids are young, you are really spending time with them.  Once they are older, they will be off doing their own thing.  We only have one go at this, so book your ticket and create some great family memories.