After completing an around-the-world trip with my toddler son and making him the youngest American to visit every continent, I wanted to address a question that I’ve faced many, many times. Actually, it’s the one question that really makes me angry. I try to respond to travel-related questions with positivity, references, and examples. “Why travel with kids before they can remember?” is the one question, though, that gets my blood boiling. It makes me want to respond unkindly. It’s like asking why celebrate a child’s birthday if they can’t remember? Why go to museums, the beach, or the park? Why read them books? Why cuddle them and show them love? They are never going to remember anyway, right? The reality is that those early years are among the most formative in a person’s life. Travel provides priceless learning opportunities and character-shaping possibilities that will last a lifetime. Here are just a few reasons why you should travel with kids before they can remember.
Why Travel with Kids Before They Can Remember?
Travel Enhances Skill Development
Travel helps children experience a wide range of sights, smells, sounds, colors, faces, and languages from an early age. My daughter learned to ski at four years old. Those skills have improved every season since that first lesson even though she doesn’t remember it. She also started swimming at just a few months old. Now, she is a a confident swimmer with excellent safety skills in the pool and the ocean.
Travel Teaches Adaptability
Traveling with young children allows them to be more adaptable to changing situations and be more flexible in their habits.
When you’re on the road, you have to adapt. Teaching your kids to be flexible from a young age is a good thing. We can be surprised by how adaptable our children are when they are exposed to fluctuations and different environments from early ages. Whether it’s sleeping in an unfamiliar crib, trying new food, or experiencing a new environment, there is endless learning to be done when you step outside the comfort zone of home.
Travel helps young kids in trying new things and saying ‘yes’ to new experiences. Riding a camel, sledding in snow, skiing, and interacting with animals are all new experiences that my kids have loved trying. Travel opens up endless possibilities in their tiny minds and they become open and used to trying new things.
Children Learn Patience
Children, especially little ones, are quite impatient by nature and expect things to happen as soon as they demand it. Travelling can bring unexpected delays. There might be a number of occasions when you may have nothing to do but wait if your flight or mode of travel is delayed. Long bus rides, waiting in queues and boarding, all take up quite a lot of time. Thus, the child will learn patience through travelling.
Appreciating Culture and Diversity
Travel can expand a kid’s world, making them more empathetic toward cultural differences. It allows them to connect with people of all ages, nationalities, and walks of life. They’re going to start learning the tools for developing meaningful relationships, especially across differences, from an early age. Travel has the potential to teach children about the similarities with others and lays a strong foundation, especially in the early years.
The most rapid brain development occurs in the first five years of a child’s life, and especially in the first three. Surrounding kids from birth to about three years old with people who are different than them normalizes that experience.
Travel and educating children about their roles as citizens of the world when they’re young ensures they will retain that message throughout their life.
We use travel to educate our children that even though people may look different from the outside, we are all the same.
Traveling with young children, even as young as six months old, can also help them with linguistic development.
We know that in terms of language, babies perceive sounds differently from adults. As they get older, they lose the ability to distinguish many of the other speech sounds. If we surround them with speech sounds from all around the world at a young age, it helps later in life with their language.
Lessons in Eating
Travel allows you to expose your children to a wider variety of food.
During our travels, Athena has tried a variety of foods that she wouldn’t normally have access to at home. Things like muskox, alligator, and goat have all been part of her meals on the road.
Quality Time Together
We can all agree that these yearly years go by far too quickly. Traveling with your children can create the quality time together that can be elusive back home.
Whether it’s just you and your young one travelling together or it’s a whole family trip, travelling strengthens family bonds. Families share a whole range of experiences together when travelling. And it’s these experiences that enhance family bonds.
Travel provides the perfect opportunity for you as a family to collect memories, not things.