Why Traveling with Children is a GREAT Idea!
In a Pinch: McDonald's for Picky Eaters!
Traveling With Children
Many people tell me that it is too hard to travel with children, too expensive and also potentially dangerous for the children. I think of these people as being too fearful of life and having too little faith in God and the Universe.
First of all, small children do not eat much so the expenses are not much different than traveling with a spouse or significant other alone. Likewise, teenagers will eat you out of house and home no matter whether you are in your own home or a hotel. Unless you are traveling with more than 4 children, which is pretty unusual these days, it can be the same exact expense for the hotel room and all you need is some careful planning beforehand.
With babies, make sure to have a medicine kit that includes comfy cool strips, plenty of diapers, washcloths and baby food and formula. With older children, markers, crayons and games are a lovely distraction while with teenagers, make sure you have batteries and or chargers for their favorite music playing device, games, books and at least one family laptop to check in with mates on Facebook.
I have just spent 16 months in Latin America traveling as a single widowed mother of one 10 year old and one 13 year old who both grew one year taller during the trip. While we were regaled and horrified at tales of machete wielding natives and cartel people, we managed to keep our heads and our lives just fine. In fact, I believe that we were kept fine by the fact that families are important in the Latino culture and we were a traveling family. I further think that having a man traveling with me might have been more of a hindrance to our safety as we would have been more likely to have been attacked or robbed since men make a perfect target... they are the supposed breadwinners and therefore holders of family money and they are also fun to fight if you are of a fighting spirit, like many drunken Latino men that I came across during our journeys. But only once did one man try to fight with me but I think he was just trying to be funny. He was only slightly shorter than my 11 year old son. I ended up giving him my leftovers from lunch, he shook my hand and stumbled off into a shade filled alleyway to enjoy his spoils of (barely) war.
In fact, in Guatemala and Mexico alike, we found that overall, people were highly likely to be nice to us, invite us to special events and to even give us discounts on food, clothing and shelter if I just asked politely and in Spanish.
Before my husband died, we traveled with the children as often as we could. My daughter's first trip was in a 1972 VW bus when she was still sporting a tie-dyed onesie and the cutest 2 month old toothless grin. Our road trip lasted for 3 days and took us from the northern California mountains through Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico to see my little brother Ransom and his lovely wife Nicole get married.
Every chance we could get we took off in that old bus. We even had some trips in our little Toyota. If it was only for the day, we would find some amazing part of California we had not seen yet and spend the afternoon staring at mountains, the ocean, or a cool crystal clear river. Sometimes we would just drive for a few minutes to visit the local aquifer to watch the retired men fish in the stocked man-made lake and to feed the ducks. Traveling and having experiences in the outside world with your children help to develop a sense of trust and closeness that might be lost if you just stayed at home and ignored each other while watching TV or working on your computer.
Learning History Firsthand
Benefits of Travel for Children
Children benefit a great deal from traveling as it helps to grow their brains. It stretches your imagination and gives you a wider sense of the world to travel. For babies, children and teens alike, the experiences of traveling close or far away from home is extremely beneficial and provides a greater picture of the world and of people from all walks of life. Even for adults, traveling and seeing and experiencing new things helps to develop and grow the prefrontal cortex portion of the brain. This is what keeps your reflexes quick, your mind sharp and keeps you young.
When people tell me that they just don't or can't travel with their children, I feel sorry for them and also for their children because it is not impossible and it is definitely one of the greatest experiences you can give your children and yourself. The memories of travel will be what they take with them into adulthood and will start a lifelong sense of curiosity of the world around them. Happy memories are one of the greatest gifts you can give to your children and they are only young and with you for such a short period of time. Cherish these times with them.
Now go out and make some travel memories together!
Happy Sails to you,