Thanks to Travel Guard® insurance by AIG Travel for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.
“Why take toddlers with you all over the world when they won’t remember any of it?”
“Travel with toddlers is just too stressful. Let’s just wait until they are older.”
“Travel with young kids is just not worth the cost.”
As a frequent traveler and family travel blogger, I hear a lot of excuses and reasons not travel with little ones. That obviously hasn’t stopped me. I’ve taken my almost 2 year old toddler with us (and his now 6 year old sister at every age and stage) on many family trips.
Have we had stressful toddler travel moments? Sure. Will my kids remember the trips we take during their toddler years? Of course not. But I can definitely say that each and every trip has been worth it.
Why consider traveling with a toddler? The next time someone makes you second guess whether to hop in your car or book that next flight with a toddler in tow, give these reasons some thought first.
To connect with family.
This is probably the most common reason that so many more people travel with young children these days. The world is now a very mobile and interconnected place. Many families live across the country or across an ocean from some of their closest loved ones. Travel is essential to bridge those gaps. As those family members get older, there is often simply not time to wait to travel to see them.
While none of my family is located abroad at the moment, my parents and extended family are all on the other coast from where I live in California now. If we didn’t travel with our toddlers, our kids would never have been able to meet their 93 year old great-grandmother who can no longer make the trip to see us.
Travel teaches toddlers flexibility.
Younger kids certainly need and thrive on routine. Many parents make the opposite mistake, however, and are too scheduled and rigid with their kids. I personally tend to be a bit of a Type A personality. When my daughter was born, I stressed about putting her down for a nap 10 minutes too late. Now that she is 6 1/2 and I have a soon-to-be 2 year old, looking back on those moments make me chuckle. After 100+ plane flights with kids, I’ve definitely lost count of the naps we’ve been late for or missed and by much more than 10 minutes! I can assure you that no permanent damage has been done.
When I travel, I have to accept that things will happen that are out of my control. My children witness how I handle those curve balls and learn to be flexible and to handle similar challenges too. Travel is teaching them important life lessons about handling the unexpected.
Travel exposes children to new cultures and experiences.
World travel opens kids up to truly diverse experiences – people, languages, food, lifestyles, and more. Even though my family is lucky to live in a very diverse part of the United States in the San Francisco Bay Area, there is no substitute for going somewhere truly different.
Even at a very young age, toddlers can appreciate and learn from those differences. Best of all – they have no preconceived notions or stereotypes that get in the way of reaching out to others that they meet. I learned this well when my daughter became fast friends with a girl from Shanghai when we were traveling in Hong Kong, despite the fact that the two couldn’t speak a word to each other. It turns out the language barrier was no barrier at all.
I don’t want to put my life and love of travel on hold until my toddler is “old enough.”
My husband and I love to travel and traveled extensively before we had children. After a few weekends at home on the couch watching TV and doing errands, we truly become stir crazy. We need to travel – for our sanity! Making the decision to have kids means big changes and sacrifices for any parent, but we also don’t feel we need to sacrifice everything that matters to us just because we have children. That wouldn’t ultimately make us very good or happy parents. We travel a bit differently than we did before we had children (toddler travel companions need breaks and naps, of course), but sacrificing travel entirely simply isn’t necessary or wise.
In additional to all the deep philosophical reasons to travel with toddlers, there are practical reasons to travel with little ones too. Once kids are “old enough” to travel, most families will have school schedules to juggle. Traveling with toddlers allows you to take advantage of off-season prices and go when the crowds are at their lowest.
In addition, toddlers are the cheapest travel companions because they often travel for free. Up until kids turn 2, toddlers are free to come along on flights as lap children. Toddlers don’t need much extra hotel space or even necessarily a full bed. In addition, many attractions and activities don’t charge admission for toddlers (kids get in free to Disney theme parks until they turn 3, for example, and many museums are free until kids turn 5). So there is often no real added cost to bringing toddlers along for many kinds of trips.
Do you travel with your toddlers? What has been the biggest benefit for your family and your kids?
This post was sponsored by Travel Guard® insurance by AIG Travel. Our family has found that travel insurance is definitely a good idea for our international trips. AIG Travel’s Travel Guard® travel insurance and assistance plans are trusted each year by millions of travelers.