Dealing with all of the end of the school year craziness have had me wanting to escape to a remote island, just my husband and I, far away from the chaos of last minute meetings with teachers, exams and next school year’s supply shopping. I’m exhausted. And I want a break from my children.
Well, I wanted to have a brake from them, until I realized how many summers I have left with them. Then it hit me. There is not so much time left, not so many holidays to be enjoyed all together, new places to explore and new cultures to learn.
I felt sad. Somehow empty.
Could it be possible to feel the emptiness of our nest with the kids still in there?
I am the mother of three intelligent and overachiever teenagers. They keep me on my toes. They keep me crazy “running around with mismatched socks” busy with all the activities, outings and adolescence related questions they ask. We have a very strong relationship and I feel very proud of it. Thinking about all this makes me crave more time with them. And I’m talking about quality AND quantity time. Those moments when we are so closed to each other that I can hug and kiss them within milliseconds with no adverse reaction coming from them. My “hen” mom instincts kicking in.
Due to all these feelings I decided to share with you my reasons why you should travel with your children NOW! Not later, not when they are older, but now!
Every single trip made with your offsprings is a wonderful opportunity to create memories. You will be laying your family’s emotional foundations. Every minute spent far away from home would be a reminder of how being together is the most important thing well above familiar objects, rooms, and other material gadgets.
Is it expensive? Yes, it is.
Is it time consuming? Yes, it is.
Is it a roller coaster of emotions? Yes, it is.
Is it worth the try? YES, IT IS!
So let’s get ready for this emotional ride, because I am here to inspire you! You will feel confused, you will believe some of my reason for traveling with kiddos, you won’t accept some of them. That’s just fine. My goal is to wake your curiosity up and encourage you to give traveling with children a try.
Why should I travel with my kids when they are still little?
Learning at its best
Children learn by observing, hearing and doing. Traveling is a great opportunity to expose your children to interesting places, cultures, and languages. Also, traveling can be an effective tool to show your kids survival and organizational skills and develop self-care awareness. The best part? You don’t need to engage in a cross Atlantic trip to teach your kids about the beauty of this world. Outings near home are an exciting way to get to know our own traditions too, thus developing a more clear identity sense of themselves and their culture.
Safe space to acquire different values and recognize rough spots that may need to be a little bit “polished”.
When traveling many of the familiar things we have at home aren’t there. We find ourselves surrounded by unknown situations that will activate our self preservation instinct. Our usual selves with our ever present values will be changed.
In our search for familiarity we will approach the differences with personal traits we didn’t know we had. As a family we will develop skill sets triggered by our trips and that will stay with our children forever. Traveling prepares them for unknown situations, challenging scenarios and distinct people.
Additionally, traveling with kids will show a side of us and them we didn’t think possible or existent. Our children are going to discover many things about themselves, they will experience irritability and tiredness, and they will learn to go on even when their energy level is very low. Traveling makes people resilient and children aren’t the exception.
Team building for the future
One thing that we have learned during our years traveling the world is that it takes a whole crew to make a trip happen. Since the planning and booking, family members are committed to collaborate with each other to create the most amazing itinerary.
Our kids sell some of their toys and clothing at the local flea market to have some extra cash to spend during the trip. They learn about budgeting and calculating costs. We purposely involve them in every step of the adventure.
While traveling we also work as a team to stay safe and healthy. We look after each other’s belongings and are always willing to provide a comfy shoulder for sleepy heads on the train or plane. Together we take pictures, gather info and learn about the culture. Back home we put all of our photographs together (taken with our mobile phones) and create beautiful albums and videos to always remember our adventures.
This is an amazing chance to praise the strengths of your little ones as well. Highlight those personal traits that make them unique and valuable.
Appreciating positive outcomes and learning from negative situations
Not every hotel is clean. Not every museum is interesting and not every beach is as blue as the ones we see online. Disastrous trips are a reality. By traveling with our children, we teach them to be grateful for trips where everything works just fine, from the beauty of the surrounding nature to the smooth service of a under developed country’s transportation system.
But what happens when the ideal vacation turns into a nightmare?
Three years ago we went to Brussels for a long weekend. We arrived to enjoy the most delicious chocolate in the world and the most crispy french fries ever! After spending the whole day exploring we decided to go to our hotel to get a good night sleep.
Our nightmare started. The charming hotel we booked based on the pictures and reviews from a well known travel website, turned out to be a whole on the wall located in a very shady neighborhood where the words prostitution and drug dealing weren’t that foreign.
Immediately we went from “singing in the car” happy tourists to scared American family in dangerous territory. Don’t laugh! Don’t roll your eyes either. It was scary! But once the shock of the moment was gone, a very united and synchronized family started looking for solutions. After phoning and browsing online, we ended up sleeping in a beautiful hotel close to the border in the German side. It wasn’t cheap, but it was worthy.
This experience helped our children to realized that sometimes things don’t go our way. And that’s fine! We just need to clean the scratch on the knee and keep going. Better times will come for sure.
You complaint about the challenges of being a parent. Aren’t you willing to enjoy the bright side? What makes travel really worth it all?
Parenting is similar to Jedi training and life. It presents us with both a bright side and a dark (sometimes very obscure) side. Usually we hear and read about the many difficulties to be a parent. We complaint loudly about it. I assure you that traveling, even with the challenging moments, is a great time to see and experience the sublimely thing that are our children.
Seeing them swimming, running, exploring, growing is so rewarding. All of the sudden everything makes sense, including those sleepless nights, hours of lessons and values we impart. Being away from home gives families the opportunity to better appreciate each other in a more relaxing setting.
To us, my husband and I, has been the best way to get to know our offsprings and see the results of our dedication and their personalities. We wouldn’t change traveling with our kids for anything in the world.
In conclusion, my tears due to a feeling of soon-to-be empty nest have disappeared. It took me a while but soon enough I was already checking online the prices of plane tickets to travel with my pack. I am willing to enjoy every minute with my kids, spending time to hug them overseas and show them the world that surrounds us.
Are you willing to give yourselves that opportunity?
You won’t regret it!
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