The boys have been in school now for three weeks and they are absolutely loving it. I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t enjoying more time to myself, but I am so very grateful that we had so much quality time together before our eldest started school. We always wanted to travel with them as much as possible before this time, and I think we did alright thanks to our year living in India (which also included trips to Nepal, Sri Lanka, Qatar and Thailand) and then four months traversing sub-Saharan Africa.
Many parents believe that family adventure travel should wait until the kids are older. We don’t believe this whatsoever and actually think that the preschool age (3-5 years) is perhaps the best age to travel with your kids. Here’s why…
You may want to read our top tips for travelling with young kids.
1. Travel during school term
This is the most obvious reason. School terms are generally when travel is cheapest and you get the good flight deals. Plus, European destinations in particular, are far less crowded. Admittedly this isn’t a problem if you homeschool when your kids are older, but this isn’t for everybody on a long-term basis.
2. They still need their sleep
They are still of an age when they need a lot of sleep. We even found that when travelling they sometimes still need a nap in the afternoon, or at least a bit of downtime. This enables parents to enjoy some much needed downtime too.
3. You can slow down
Slow travel is the best way with this age. They find the smallest things fascinating – from cracks in the pavement, to stones on the beach, to animal dung (always a favourite topic with our boys). You don’t necessarily have to pack lots of planned activities into your day – perhaps they’ve found a fountain to splash around in, or a sand dune to run down. It’s wonderful seeing the world through their eyes.
4. Barriers are broken down
We find that travelling with young kids breaks down any cultural barriers with strangers. People are often inquisitive of children travelling at this age and want to chat to us; even the hardest haggler in India cracks a smile with the boys around.
5. They’re out of the baby stage
No more nappies or night time milk demands, and they’re (hopefully) sleeping better at night. The baby stage does have it’s benefits as they’re much more portable, but there are those interrupted nights for many, and babies come with so much stuff! Plus, pre-schoolers are at that stage where they will sit and watch Blaze and the Monster Machines on loop for those long flights (I will never forget the hours I spent walking up and down the isle when we flew London to Bangkok with Ezra aged 18 months).
6. Learning through play
This age is all about learning through play, to build self-confidence in their abilities and develop their social and cognitive skills, all whilst having fun. What better way to do this than through different environments; drawing shapes in the sand, counting tuk-tuks, spotting wild animals, and playing with other children across the globe.
7. They still want time with you
Not that I have older kids, but my understanding is that as they get older, they crave their independence (well it’s certainly my memory of being a teenager!) and have strong attachments to their friends. Preschoolers love time with their parent(s) and are unlikely to whinge about being bored; although the tired whinge is still a guarantee, and in that instance there are always snacks and their Amazon tablets 😉.
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So do you agree? Is the preschool age the best age to travel with kids?