There's no question, having kids changed me as a traveller.
Where once the idea of snapping up a deal and heading off on an adventure felt simple and easy, suddenly I had to contemplate whether the little people would be okay.
I know I'm not the only one who has wondered if my jet set dreams had to go the way of my favourite pre-maternity jeans once the kids arrived. I'm willing to bet that most new parents feel the same way.
We took that first trip and then we didn't stop. Seventeen years into the parenting game, travel is an integral part of our lives. And I can tell you with confidence that not only can you can take the kids with you when you travel, but there are plenty of reasons why you should.
1. They're portable
It's true. Kids are built to move. And adventures can always be sought out that match your kids' age and stage. You'll find plenty of accommodations and activities that bend over backwards to make sure your family is comfortable but introducing a trip that requires kids' go outside their comfort zone can be good too. There's nothing that will make a demanding 11-year old appreciate her room at home more than having to share one with her brothers on the road.
2. There are kids where you're going
I've been travelling with my kids since they were infants and we have yet to get to a city, rural enclave or mountaintop and not bump into another wee person. If kids can live in the places you're visiting, you can bring yours.
3. You are responsible for teaching them how to travel
Yup, it's on you. Want to raise kids who know better than to kick the seat in front of them on a plane? You'll need to travel. Trips offer opportunities to teach lessons in respecting boundaries, following rules, self-entertaining and more. All of which will make life at home better.
4. Travel can cement family values
Want to raise kids who understand that diverse cultures have lots to offer or who appreciate that we all have a role to play in protecting the planet? Travel. Taking my kids on the road reduced the noise around what we value as a family. All these years later, those values still hold firm.
5. Hiccups you'll face on the road aren't that different from the ones waiting at home
The idea that you are safer at home than while travelling is often untrue. We've found that applying the same general safety rules at home and abroad works. Kids will still catch a cold, dislike a particular dish, be miserable on the road just like home, but a little bit of schedule flexibility and patience usually do the trick.
6. Great trips can reduce your choices (in a good way)
At home, the fight to get kids to practice for six sports, meals on the table plus pick out the perfect shade of grey for the living room walls created stress that was all our own doing. And the kids felt it too. Being able to let go of all of those commitments and focus instead on the world we were seeing, and our role in it was a luxury and a sanity saver.
7. Travel teaches resilience and promotes self-confidence
Far from home, kids get to test out who they are without fear or peer pressure. Often our daily lives don't allow much space for kids to think freely. Removing them from home and showing them new things, gives them air to breathe anew.
8. Travel allows you to lead by example
No one says, "I hope my kids learn to squash their dreams and desires." And yet, as parents we often push our passions to the side. Instead, talk to your kids about why you want to travel, about what mysteries in the world you're excited to uncover and watch their eyes light up with a desire to do the same.
9. They won't be available to you forever
Both the blessing and the curse of childhood is that it doesn't last forever. Kids grow up and begin to have their own lives and working those into your travel schedule can be tough. While they're little, time is on your side. Make the most of it.
10. Great adventures are waiting for your family
Use travel as an opportunity to take on bold adventures together. Spark their imagination and sense of wonder with a walk through a Costa Rica rainforest or watch their faces light up when they don a Samurai helmet and sword in Japan. Venture out and show them the world and I guarantee they'll show you new things too.