Thinking about it now, sat in an office with the wind and rain outside, the answer to the question, ‘Why travel with young kids?‘ seems easier to answer than it did when we landed at Heathrow after the 14-hour flight from Bangkok.
There are really amazing moments and some really difficult ones. Some incredibly exciting times and some slightly more mundane. But best of all are the memories we make together, things that in years to come we’ll be able to say, ‘Ah, do you remember when we…’.
Our lives before children revolved heavily around travel and we enjoyed 14 years of adventures together before little Arthur arrived in 2013. In fact, we found out Arthur was part of the team whilst on safari in Kruger National Park. We had an idea that life was about to change (and of course it has) but we didn’t see why travelling couldn’t still be a big part of our lives.
Fast-forward a few years (plus nine countries) and Arthur has just turned three and Ezra is 18 months, and as a family so far, our travel highlights include running around the medinas of Morocco, high-fiving monks in Thailand, feeding monkeys in ancient temples of India and camping in the south of France.
We have made family travel work for us and so here are 10 reasons why we think you should travel with young children:
1. A more open travel experience – everyone’s guard comes down when they see you travelling with children and even the hardest of hagglers will be smiling at you.
2. Improves (non-verbal) communication skills – whilst they do get to speak to lots of different people, often there is a language barrier in place so they learn the power of a smile, wave or high-five.
3. It’s a sensory playground – so many new smells, sounds and sights to explore. They soak it all up and then nap longer! Honest! Beer and book time for Mummy and Daddy, thank you.
4. Travel is the best education – they’re learning first-hand about the world we share; getting closer to nature, seeing things they will never see at home and experiencing the ways of other cultures.
5. Travel teaches them to be adaptable – even the best laid plans go to pot when travelling and Peppa Pig isn’t always there to save the day!
6. It’s actually a lot easier than you think – in a lot of ways, the same survival techniques you employ at home will still work in another country, so it still helps to plan daily activities for the children. If the kids are happy, Mummy and Daddy are happy. But be realistic and flexible. Don’t push them too much and allow them the familiarity of routine and their favourite foods where possible. McDonalds is okay sometimes.
7. It helps them appreciate home – My boys are so happy when we’re travelling, but the excitement when they get home and see Nana, Grumps (no, that’s not a typo) and their plastic toys!
8. Cheaper flights and accommodation – Your kids aren’t yet in school, so if parents’ work allows, travel during school term! Plus, if your child is under 2, you don’t have to pay for their seat on the flight (you may form varying views on whether this is a good thing or not at various stages of the flight). Quick tip: try and get the bassinet seats (you don’t have to use the bassinet and the extra leg-room is super-handy).
9. Quality family time – Travel really brings us all together – we’ve achieved something amazing as a team.
10. Creating memories – The first years are such a sleep deprived blur as it is. Do something amazing that you will remember forever.
Travelling with young kids isn’t without its challenges and we’ve certainly had to change the way we travel. But we love it. Our travel experiences are all the more enriching with our boys. And even a 14 hour long haul flight trying to entertain climber-extroadinaire-Ezra, who has a serious aversion to sitting still, doesn’t put us off; thankfully Paw Patrol on loop satisfies Arthur.
If you’re thinking about it. Do it. You won’t regret it.