5 Reasons Travel With Young Kids is Worth the Headache
There are few things in life that really truly matter. I mean there are things that eat my lunch everyday, but those things are rarely important if I stop to think about them. (Someone please remind me of that the next time I’m stressed over the 17 piles of dirty laundry in my basement).
If you know us personally, you know that the most important thing for our family is our faith in Jesus. If we get that right with our kids then we’ve done our job. But another thing that is really important to us is making memories with our kids. While some days it may feel like we will be changing diapers and cleaning up spilled cereal for the rest of our lives, we really only have about 18 years with them under our roofs. And if all of the older and wiser people in my life are right, those years will go by in a flash.
Two summers ago we took a road trip from Pennsylvania to Colorado. We spent the summer in Fort Collins taking classes for our jobs, but to make sure we wouldn’t have to be committed to the looney bin upon arrival we spread it out over a few days.
We stopped in Chicago to eat some deep dish pizza, take a bean selfie…
…and play in the fountains at Millenium Park.
On the trek home we hit Custer State Park to come face to face with a herd of buffalo…
…took a sunset selfie in front of Mt. Rushmore…
…climbed a few hills in the Badlands…
…took a quick dip in Lake Michigan…
…took a tour of the house from my favorite Christmas movie, A Christmas Story in Detroit…
…and posed for a family photo with the Lion Shrine at our alma mater, Penn State.
It. Was. Awesome.
Don’t get me wrong, there was whining, we had kids get carsick, and my car smelled like a foot when we got home. But my kids still talk about that trip as if we had taken them to Disney World for a week. And they had plenty to write about on all of those “What I Did This Summer” projects come September.
It was that chaotic, random, cross-country trip that inspired me to make travel with our family a priority.
Now, I already know what some of you are thinking. Vacation is expensive, kids have meltdowns, why would I bring a toddler on an airplane, we’re so busy, and my kids won’t remember any of it anyway.
Traveling with kids = Major Headache
I know. There are a million good reasons and excuses for not traveling while your kids are little. But I’d like to offer up 5 reasons why you absolutely should.
1. These are the moments they will remember
We had someone tell us recently that we should invest in family vacations because those are the things your kids will remember from their childhood.
Stop and think about it for a minute. Can you remember the vacations you took as a child? I can!
Because of that, I have fully bought into the idea of traveling with my kids NOW.
And it helps me justify spending a good chunk of our tax return on a family vacation each year. I’m more than a little frugal in most areas of my life, but this is one area that I have decided to loosen the belt on just a little.
All of those miles you rack up and dollars you spend are beyond worth it in the long term. Traveling with your kids means they will have these memories to look back on for years. And so will you. Which brings me to my next point.
2. Even if they don’t remember, YOU WILL
I will never forget the look on my kids’ faces when they met their favorite Disney character for the first time.
Or the look of pure joy they had as they had a snowball fight in July at Rocky Mountain National Park.
They may only remember these moments through pictures, but I will never forget. And moms and dads, that counts for something too!
3. Your Kids Will Become More Adaptable
Everything always goes according to plan when you travel, right?
Hah, far from it.
Inevitably you’ll get stuck in traffic, have a delayed flight, or have to pull over for that one child who is always getting car sick.
Especially if you are able to model what it looks like to “go with the flow” in these moments, your kids will learn to roll with it too.
It’s a trait that I wish more adults in my life had. But it’s not too late to foster this in your own kids!
4. There are some things you just can’t learn in a classroom
We don’t homeschool, but I can see why people do.
What makes learning more exciting than actually seeing the places and sites you’re learning about in textbooks?
I get such a thrill as an adult finally seeing places like Mt. Rushmore that I have only ever seen in pictures. And it feels like a gift to my children to be able to see those places during the years they are learning about them in school.
5. Your Kids Aren’t Getting Any Younger
Our oldest turned 9 last year. Do you know what that means!? We only have half of our summers left with all of our kids at home. HALF! That’s mind blowing!
We often forget in the midst of the messes they make and the meals we’re preparing that our time with them is fleeting. People always say to me, “It goes by so fast,” or “Enjoy them while they’re little.”
I admit most of the time I want to say, “Yeah yeah. I actually wish it would go a little faster.” But of course I adore my kids and I know they’re right!
The truth is we don’t have time to “wait until they are old enough to travel.” We don’t have time to “wait until we make more money.” If we wait any longer we’ll only have a few summers left!
Excuse me just a moment while I ugly cry.
OK, that’s all I got. It’s a short list but hopefully something in there stuck.
I’ll be the first to tell you that there is A LOT that we don’t get right when it comes to parenting. But I’m determined to get these 2 down.
1. I want my kids to love Jesus with all their hearts.
2. And I want them to have memories to share with their kids one day about the short time we all had together.
So my last bit of advice would be to just get in that minivan and go.
Even if it feels like a lot of work, or like it’s going to cost too much, or like you don’t have time. Most of those things are probably true. But trust me when I say, it’s worth it.
Besides, time is running out! Your kids are only getting older and in a few years they won’t think you’re cool.
So what are you waiting for?
More Family Travel Ideas
Check out my post on how we made traveling with our kids WAY more affordable by getting into the points and miles game. I break down exactly how we did it here.
Read about our latest trip to Costa Rica here.