... There are long airport lines, security checkpoint(s), boarding the plane, sitting in a confined, shaking, noisy space that can pressure little ears, and travel etiquette issues like not kicking the seats...

But when children understand what to expect and what is expected of them, they are always much better behaved.

If parents are prepared and prepare their children as well, travel with little ones can be an absolute joy!

Links to recommended articles - each emphasizing the need to involve children in preparation for the trip!

Packing and Pre-Trip Considerations.
Links to our
favorite checklists.

Tools (DVDs & Books) to Prepare Toddlers for Travel.

07 July 2008

Why Traveling With Toddlers is a Very Good Thing

One parent friend of mine told me once that she and her husband weren't planning to take a family airplane trip until their then-2-year-old son was 6 - she was just too worried about what she imagined in her active son's potential bad behavior, packing and carrying all the necessary accoutrements that go with little ones, all the added details (and delays) that seem to go with traveling with toddlers. But after she had her second son and realized that if their family stuck to their no-planes-til-the-boys-are-6 plan, all told it would result in nearly a decade without a family trip! ... and she was ready to find some solutions to her dilemma.

It has been argued that traveling with children under three is a waste of time. I've heard all the excuses: that biggest of which is that babies and toddlers are too young to remember what it is they are seeing and experiencing. My response to that is the same as any child development specialist's with regards to a child's exposure to being read to: exposure is a VERY good thing. My daughter doesn't remember asking me to read Big, Runaway Bunny or Where The Wild Things Are every night two and three times when she was two. But she still loves for me to read to her, and is now a great reader herself.

I wanted my daughter Shae to want to travel. As she grows up, it is crucial that she understand that there are different ways of living, looking, building, believing, learning, contributing - and I want her to internalize this knowledge and act on it as a result of seeing it, not just reading about it. I am convinced that having a broader exposure to the world, domestically and internationally, results in better citizenship and commitment to one's community. What better way to appreciate what one has than by witnessing firsthand what others don't? What better way to understand that others do not think/problem solve/create in the same way as ourselves than by learning - even just a few words of - another language and realizing just in the sentence structure alone how differently the same idea can be expressed or considered?

Having this belief in broad exposure as a benefit, coupled with my own selfish desire as a world traveller not to give up exploring just because I was now a mother, I set out in not-so-subtle and less obvious ways to raise her as a Good Little Traveler. From map sheets in the crib and a biplane rocking chair to a wall papered with old saved National Geographic maps and multiple bookshelves overflowing with stories about exploring, adventuring, discovering, journeying. I also took her on the road almost from the time she was born. But one needn't be as interested as I am in travelling as a rule, just open to the idea.

I love this quote by Teresa Plowright at, where she writes: "Travel is in many ways different from vacation: travel, for example, might be sightseeing in Paris, or exploring hill towns in Italy, or a road trip with plenty of stops and exploration along the way." She goes on to write: "Travel with a baby or toddler entails logistics, no question. But gear is so great, these days ... And travel with a baby can be extremely rewarding, especially in countries where people tend to dote on babies."

There are so, so many great reasons to take your infant / toddler / preschooler / kindergartner out into the world!

1 comment:

Lew said...

I agree 100%. We took our 2.5 year old to China to adopt her sister and it was great. Was it easy? Not always, but it would not have been the same without her. I took my first airplane trip when I was 18, my 6 & 8 year old have their own frequent flier miles. Just plan ahead, know it won't be perfect but do it. Our kids are great little travelers. can't wait for the road trip to Las Vegas in two weeks.

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