I recently flew from Texas to Boston (and back again two weeks later) with my one and a half year old toddler. On the flight out, the man I was sitting next to struck up a conversation when he saw I was traveling with my toddler on my lap.
We casually talked about how old Elijah was, and how my husband and I had flown with him when he was about seven months old. The man told me how he had a six month old daughter, and then he said something that really hit a cord with me.
He said, “we’re too afraid to travel with her.”
To be honest, it saddened me. I don’t think his thoughts and feelings on traveling with a baby are uncommon at all. I think a lot of parents are afraid to travel with their kids, whether they are babies, toddlers, or even older kids.
And I get it. It can be daunting to be struck in a plane for hours, without knowing how your child will react. Even traveling in a car for long periods of time makes some parents nervous. Especially for breastfeeding moms, taking a baby on a plane can feel like way too much work.
But there are so many reasons to travel with your kids. Don’t let fear be the one reason that holds you back. Instead, look at all the reasons you should travel with your kids, and be brave enough to try.
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Why You Should Travel With Your Kids
For older toddlers, traveling can be a great educational experience. Learning about new places and forms of travel can help your toddler learn about the world around them.
Traveling provides great opportunities for new sights, sounds, smells, and tastes—all great for sensory learning. It also teaches them early on how to adapt to their surroundings.
And, you may find your little one learns tons of new things once you reach your destination. I don’t know what it is, but it seems like every time we travel somewhere, Elijah has a sudden learning jump.
Real Life Example
For example, the trip we made with him this year when he was one and a half years old proved great for his communication skills. Prior to the trip, he would only say a few words consistently. But, from the looks on his face and the way he would interact with us, we knew he understood a lot (if not most) of what we said to him. I had this hunch that he had a whole lot of words in his little head that he just didn’t want to vocalize yet.
Anyway. We went on vacation with my whole side of the family, during which Elijah got to spend a whole week with his cousin. While his cousin is only a month or two older, he is definitely more vocal. He beat Elijah in the communication department, while Elijah beat him in the motor skills arenas.
Spending that whole week playing with his cousin was great for Elijah! By the time we headed home, he was saying so many new words and even phrases. If we had been afraid to travel the distance to go on this vacation, he probably would have stayed stuck in his word slump for a while longer. Seeing and hearing his cousin was just the nudge he needed.
It’s an adventure
Traveling with your baby or toddler is an adventure. Most little kids love to see and experience new things, at least to a degree. Don’t let your fear of traveling with them dampen the sense of adventure.
Instead, look at it positively. Loosen up a little and let your inner child out a bit.
If you prepare well for a trip, traveling with kids doesn’t have to be a scary thing.
It instills a love for travel
For many people, traveling is a favorite thing to do that most of us wish we could do more. And that’s a good thing!
Experiencing other places and cultures (even just local/national cultures) is a good thing for anyone to experience.
When you travel with your kids, you allow them to opportunity to learn to love traveling just as much as you! Let your kids have the opportunity early on to learn more about the world and experience it for themselves.
It pushes you out of your comfort zone
I’ll be the first to admit that traveling with kids will push you out of your comfort zone. But you know what? That’s a good thing!
The only way we grow is by being pushed outside of our comfort zones. And kids will most definitely do that to you!
I remember the first few times we traveled with Elijah, first in a car and then later by airplane. It was a bit intimidating to figure out all the details, especially since I was still breastfeeding Elijah. The thought of having to breastfeed him in public in an airport was a bit daunting.
But you know what? It all worked out. We made it to our destination and back, and learned a few new things along the way.
Remember, the things you will regret most in life are the things you didn’t do.
It teaches you (and them) to adapt
If traveling with my baby (and then toddler) has taught me anything, it’s how to adapt better. Whether it was figuring out how to feed Elijah in an airport, or how to fit everything we would need in our limited luggage, we quickly learned to adapt to make it work.
And I think Elijah has learned to adapt as well. The first few times we traveled with him, he really struggled to fall asleep and stay asleep anywhere new and different. While he’s still getting over that a bit, he’s much better about sleeping somewhere different than he used to be. Although it has taken time, he has learned to adapt when we travel.
It’s not as hard as it sounds
I know traveling with a baby or a toddler can sound like it would be too hard to be worth it. But with some effort and planning, I think it’s totally doable for most people.
Yes, there will be exceptions. There will be babies or toddlers who just can’t handle it and make the trip unmanageable. But I don’t think these cases are as frequent as it may seem.
And if you don’t at least try, how will you ever know? Or better yet, how will you ever learn to make the trip manageable if you don’t at least give it a chance?
Grab a packing list, plan ahead, and do the best that you can. I’m willing to bet you’ll find it won’t find it as hard as you think it may be.
It’s not all about them (or you)
One thing I’ve noticed Elijah, my husband, and myself have learned from traveling together is that it’s not all about Elijah, and it’s not all about us. Traveling with a kid is all about give and take. Elijah has lived through some things he didn’t want to do, because it was something that was important to my husband and me.
And there have been some things we haven’t done because we needed to slow down and take some time for Elijah to rest up. There have been things we’ve missed out on in favor of letting him maintain his regular nap time. Which, ultimately has made the trip far more enjoyable for us all.
The point is, traveling will bring to light that it’s not all about you, and it’s not all about them. If you’re not willing to have some give and take, life will be far more difficult and far less enjoyable than necessary.
Where have you gone with your kids?
Are you worried about travel with your kids? Or have you traveled with your kids already? Did you have a positive experience, or a learning experience? Share with me in the comments below—I’d love to hear all about!