Single women are often told to get the travel bug out of their system before they have kids. New parents are told they won’t be able to travel for years after having their first child.
There is often the mindset that parents are wasting their money traveling with kids, especially ones some consider too young to remember. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, I respectfully disagree and believe it’s very important to travel with my children.
I Want To Raise Global Citizens
I know the term global citizens is often thrown around and can be seen as cliche but raising children who respect people from all walks of life is important to me. With all of the hate spewed on individuals from certain countries, religions and races I want to show my children, first hand, that there are good people in this world. I want them to experience people’s kindness all over the world. I want them to know it is unfair and inappropriate to lump people of the same religion, culture, etc. together based on the actions of a few.
One of my favorite memories was when my girls and I were traveling from Brussels to Amsterdam. There was a little girl from Belgium on our train and she and my daughters began to play. She did not speak English and my daughters do not speak French. She also didn’t have brown skin like my girls have but none of that mattered. They were children and they spoke the universal language of innocence. Children are fearless until we teach them otherwise and what better way to combat fear than to experience, first-hand, that the world is made up of kind people from all different ethnicities.
In addition to respecting other people’s culture, language, and food, my hope is that when my daughters see how beautiful the world is, that they will want to protect it. It’s one thing to tell a child global warming is happening, but to have them experience the result of global warming most certainly makes a greater impact. Imagine them going to see glaciers or animals they love in their natural habitat, and then being told that if we don’t take care of the earth, these animals, oceans, rainforests etc. will no longer exist. My hope is that they will be compelled to help.
Travel Is Educational
The world is our classroom and I’m a firm believer that not all classrooms have four walls. While taking children out of school to travel is a controversial topic, I think there is much to be said about experiencing the things you learned in school in real life. I take my daughter out of school for up to two weeks a year to travel.
This school year that included a trip to Kenya. It was amazing the amount of knowledge my daughter walked away with. On the last day of our safari, she was giving us the tour, pointing out the different types of animals. She wasn’t just saying there’s a lion, she was informing us of the ostrich on our left and letting us know it was a male ostrich based on its feather patterns. We also visited a Maasai tribe where we were greeted with a blessing and learned how the tribe lives. Our family was told how their homes are constructed and shown inside. We were taught about some of their traditional dances and then they showed them to us, like the adumu, where the Maasai warriors jump as high as they can. These are experiences that can not be taught in a classroom.
Kids Remember More Than We Think And Even If They Don’t, I’ll Remember
After traveling extensively with my three and four year old, I can attest that the thought that young children won’t remember a trip is false. My family visited Thailand when my eldest daughter was two and now she’s almost five, and she still talks about that trip. While she doesn’t remember every aspect of our trip, there are certain experiences from it that are ingrained in her mind.
While I think it’s amazing that she remembers so much from such a young age, even if she remembered nothing, I remember how much fun we had on our trip, and would remind her as often as I could. The smiles on her face as she experienced so many firsts with me are unforgettable. The joy she had in the exact moment she was feeding rescued elephants is permanently sketched in my head. The times she correctly greeted the Thai people saying hello in their language and how she still does it every time we walk into a Thai restaurant is enough for me. Even if it wasn’t, we have photos and videos that will always remind us of our time together as the memories fade.
There’s No Time Like the Present, Make It Count
If there is one thing I’ve learned in life it’s that tomorrow is not promised. Since I am blessed to be able to travel with my kids now, there is no reason to wait until tomorrow. Too often we see the effects of this crazy world and I don’t know how long I or my children will be on this earth. I find joy in traveling with my daughters, seeing their eyes light up as we embark on our adventures and experiencing first-hand how travel is shaping them in a positive way. I’ll continue to enjoy today as if tomorrow doesn’t exist because unfortunately one day it won’t.
Monet Hambrick is the mom and writer behind The Traveling Child blog where she shares tips on traveling with kids and how to afford travel as a family. Her motto is, “If kids live there kids can visit.” Follow along with her family adventures on Instagram and Facebook.