We’re about to embark on a long-term round the world trip with our almost three-year old son. This is a very exciting idea to me but…
I’m reluctant to divulge much information about it to people in my “real world” because I just don’t think they’d get it. You know the people – your hairdresser, your mum’s second cousin, your real estate agent. My line, as of late, has been “Oh, we’re moving to Australia.” That’s something people can understand but “Oh, we’re going to Australia for a few months and then after that we’re just going to kind of go where the wind takes us, you know?” That is way to foreign a concept for people who don’t know you to understand.
When I have tried, in the past, to explain the kind of life we’re choosing to live to people the most common response is:
“You’re going to do what?? Is travelling with young children worth it? You son is two, he’s not going to remember any of it. What’s the point? You’d be better off just staying home. Young children need routine and structure, not travel.”
Is travelling with young children worth it?
Emphatically, yes. Travelling with young children isn’t about them remembering the things that you’ve seen and done on your travels. It’s about creating shared experiences as a family – learning and growing together. It’s about understanding other cultures and seeing the world from a first-hand perspective. It’s about showing your children that they can do things that are a bit scary and outside their comfort zone and come out the other side in one piece. I can give you an endless number of examples of why travelling with young children is definitely worth it but perhaps the best is to see the evidence. Young children grow up to be older children who grow up to be adults. The people I’ve met who have travelled as young children turn into remarkable teens and adults. Case in point – the Miller family from The Edventure Project, a family of six who have been on the road for five years and have produced four wonderful, wordly children.
Is Reuben going to remember any of it?
At two-years old, Reuben is already well travelled having been to six countries, four states in the US and three states in Australia. Whether he remembers any of it isn’t the point. The point is we did it as a family and we remember it through the experiences we had together. As a family unit we have a closeness that you get from spending every waking minute of the day together. I especially see the difference in the father-son relationship that Lee and Reuben have. That extra time together on a regular basis is priceless.
You’d be better off just staying at home.
I can see how outsiders looking in might think that our family has the perfect life at home in Christchurch. As a whole, it doesn’t work for us though. We’re over it. It’s almost impossible to explain, so I won’t. All I can say is I know that – mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, on every single level… our family is not better off staying at home.
Young children need routine and structure, not travel.
I know that extended travel with small children is not easy. I’ve been there, done that and bought the ice-cream splattered t-shirt. From our experience melting down mentally as a family in Thailand last year, I know that our family has a limit on how much quick travel we can do… about two weeks.
We will travel but it will be slowly. We’ve found that the actual travel itself isn’t hard. What’s hard is the requirement to always be out and doing things, trying to behave well enough to eat in a restaurant three times a day and overstimulation in general. How can we get around this? That’s where slow travel comes in. Having a home base really takes the pressure off all the little things that are hard about travelling with children. We’ll rent apartments, housesit for someone, visit relatives and friends. We’ll base ourselves somewhere for a few months at a time, join a preschool and make friends.
Routine and structure don’t have to be based around home, school and playgroups. We’ll focus on keeping the same morning and evening routine that we do at home. The same bedtime stories can be read, the same songs can be sung, the same blankies can be cuddled. We’ll sandwich all the sightseeing, exploring and adventuring with routine and structure everyday.
For more information about travel with young kids:
Check out my toddler travel tips series for specific tips on managing young kids on your travels.
Read up on other posts I have about family travel.
What do you think? Is travelling with young children worth it?
Of course all this is merely my opinion. Different strokes for different folks. What is a priority for my family might not necessarily be the same for yours.
I’m not the only parent out there who thinks that travel isn’t wasted on children. Here are several more posts on the topic from my travelling family friends:
- Mary from Bohemian Travelers
- Nancy from Family on Bikes
- Catherine from Catherine et Les Fées
- Alisa from Living Outside of the Box
- Melissa from Break Out of Bushwick
- Jenn from The Edventure Project
- Kris Herwig from Simon Says
- Heather Costaras from Living Differently
- Kalli from Portable Professionals
- Kirsty from Barts go Adventuring
- Anne from The Journey is the Reward
- Sharon from Where’s Sharon?
- Annie from Practical Adventurology
- Lainie from Raising Miro on the Road of Life (and Aimee from Suitcases and Strollers)
- Nichola from We Travel Countries
- CoreyAnn from Adventure Bee