We have been traveling with our son since he was 8 months old. When Nathan asked me to write a post on traveling with kids, I had never thought much about how scary it can actually be for some people to pack up their children and wander out in search of far-off destinations.
We live in Australia and for us, our first two family overseas adventures were to Thailand, a little over 12 months after the Tsunami that hit on Boxing Day of 2004. Luckily for us, my husband and I had traveled a little overseas together before our son came along and we have always been well organized, however rather naïve as well. Thinking about it now, if I had thought about it at all I would never have traveled with a child either and we all would have missed out on so much.
Our first family holiday to Thailand was fabulous and as new parents, everything went smoothly for us. We spent a few nights in Bangkok and the rest of our 2-week vacation exploring beautiful Patong Beach. It was a very relaxing holiday and we enjoyed it so much that we decided to go back to Thailand the next year for our annual family vacation. This time around our little man got very ill, he was admitted to Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok and it was an overwhelming experience for the three of us. Thankfully we had purchased travel insurance. The hospital took exceptional care of him, and we as a family have formed a greater bond due to this incident.
For most of you (and for us for a while after our second Thailand Holiday) the very thought of traveling with your offspring can automatically send you into a cold sweat. I know it still does for me sometimes and we try to travel frequently with our munchkin. As much as I adore him, he also drives me bonkers and wanting that second glass of Scotch, however, I believe that family holidays create the best memories for both you and your children. We all know that it would be way easier to travel without them, regardless, do not let this discourage you from an otherwise wonderful family adventure. Children will hold onto these travel memories for many years to come and will encourage them to do the same with their children. Children are resilient and will usually cope better in any situation than we can.
Traveling with your children is an opportunity to help them learn, meet new and exciting people, try different languages, taste exotic foods and experience how other people live. It will also give you a different perspective into your children's way of thinking and learning. Just think of the memories you will create together on your travels and you will be able to discuss these around the dinner table for years to come.
When you take your children on a family holiday, as they get older be sure to involve them in the planning stages of the holiday. Children love to feel needed and important. Give them brochures and ask them to help plan what they would like to do for a day, learn some basic words or phrases if you are traveling to a new country, ask them to point out where you are going on a map and learn a little about the history of your family holiday destination. Learning these important things together will give you something to discuss well after the holiday has ended, and inspire inquisitive minds to keep exploring long after the holiday is over. The holiday process will teach your children valuable life lessons, like the importance of patience, compassion, budgeting, organization, a new appreciation for what they have at home and the ability to learn outside the classroom.
This is definitely a holiday memory that will stay with us forever. When our son looks back over the photographs with these older gentlemen and their signatures in his keepsake booklet he realizes how fortunate he was on this day.
I am sure he would never have learned as much about Pearl Harbor as he has if he didn't get to see it with his own eyes and meet these incredible heroes.
So get on board, family travel is a tradition that brings all family members closer together while bringing everyone more in touch with the world around them.Let your children help you plan your next family holiday. They'll be sure to help you add a little extra fun while you keep the focus on the hidden lessons they won't know they're picking up on until later in life. Remember, young travelers enjoy seeing the world just as much as you do.