A friend of mine just recently flew from Texas to Indonesia with her three year old daughter for a trip, just the two of them. That’s twenty-four hours on a plane with a toddler, including stopovers at busy airports, followed by exploring a third world country for 3 weeks. She loves going on these trips with her daughter, and they always have the most amazing times. Some parents would call this kind of venture extremely brave or just plain crazy. But to my friend, and to many other traveling parents out there, it’s just worth it.
Travel forces us to slow down, to break out of our routines, and to reconnect with ourselves, our loved ones, and the world around us all at once. So why sacrifice travel experiences that enrich our well-being during parenthood if there is no real need to? Balancing a career, a family, and travel is not only possible, but it’s a priority to those who realize that all it takes is a bit of courage and a leap of faith.
The apprehension of traveling with young ones is enough to put the dreams and passions of many parents on hold. As with many things in life though, the apprehension of situations tends to be a lot more extreme than the actual outcome. Many parents are pushing past the voice of apprehension to discover fulfillment and a myriad of benefits on the other side. They’re discovering that the world of family travel is not actually so scary or confusing to navigate after all. Flying half-way across the world with young ones does sound quite intimidating, but that’s nothing that a stack of coloring books, some games, a bag of snacks, or apps for kids can’t fix. Plus once you’ve arrived in your new destination, the plane ride is behind you, and the stimulation of being surrounded by an entirely new culture is exciting and totally worth the long haul. Parents can pack an umbrella stroller to make the walking and sight-seeing easier on the little ones, especially while exploring pedestrian cities. For road-trips, or in locations that require car transportation, parents can pack a lightweight convertible car seat.
Children adapt to new surroundings and environments incredibly well, arguably even more-so than adults. Their brains are like little sponges, soaking up all sorts of stimuli at each given moment. Being exposed to foreign languages at a young age has been scientifically proven to have remarkable benefits. The more cultures and contrasting surroundings children are exposed to during their early stages of development, the more open-minded they will be for the rest of their lives. Being exposed to different ways of life will also teach them tolerance, acceptance, resilience, confidence, and the value of trying new things.
Traveling with our young ones forces us to slow down and to reconnect with the wonders of the world around us. It allows us to cherish the simple things, like the feeling of sand between our toes, or watching in silence as the sun sets the entire sky ablaze before slowly sinking into the horizon. I encourage you to hit the road with your children, to expand your horizons with the ones you love the most, even if it scares you. I’ve yet to meet anyone who regrets taking a step outside of their comfort zones to accomplish their goals and dreams!