When it comes to travel- specifically our family travel- I’ve heard it all. The comments and questions range from praise and admiration, to outright criticism. Furthermore, we’ve been prayed for and wished luck along our journey. Although most times those are said in very encouraging tones, other times it’s felt a bit mocking. Generally speaking though, the most common conversations (positive or negative) revolve around the ages of our children.
Here are just a few examples of conversation starters I’ve heard recently:
- “I’m waiting until my children get older to start traveling with them.”
- “We don’t want to spend a bunch of money on a vacation the kids won’t even remember.”
- “Traveling with young kids is exhausting. It doesn’t feel like a vacation.”
- “I would travel with my kids more, but they hate riding in a car.”
- “Don’t you worry that your kids won’t sleep at a hotel?”
I aways start my response by saying “Yes. I get it.”
I’m not completely immune to any of those thoughts or problems. However, I truly believe when it comes to travel, the good outweighs the bad every time. Kids (and adults too) learn from experience. How will they learn if you never give them the opportunity? Not to mention, experiences shape their world and stretch their abilities. By the same token, the earlier you expose children to things, the easier they adapt and become accustom to it (ex. foreign language.)
Do my children remember all the travel we’ve done? Definitely not. But through travel- even from an early age- I’ve been able to teach them to be adaptable, inquisitive, and adventurous. We’ve exposed them to history, culture, art, and imagination. Likewise, they’ve learned etiquette (okay, this is still a work in progress) and the art of exploration. We’ve expanded their world through new foods, as well as new situations.
Has it been easy? No. Have we made sacrifices in other areas to be able to give our children these opportunities? Yes. Do I regret it for a second? Absolutely not!
And where their memories fail, my camera has not. Often at night rather than reading a book, we flip through old pictures of our trips. My children can tell stories of their travels- some from actual memories, but likely most from the repeated exposure to the photographs.
If I could encourage parents in one way, it would be this: don’t wait. Don’t make excuses or put off travel until later. The trips don’t have to be over-over-the-top. In fact, a day trip or a short weekend getaway can be the best way to start.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for suggestions on some fabulous trips for young kids- here are a list of 10 that I highly recommend.
- Orlando, Florida: No explanation needed for this city! Orlando has TONS to offer young families from the obvious (Disney) to a great Science Center, LEGOLAND, Sea World, and a variety of other family friendly attractions. To get more ideas, check out my post 10 Things To Do In Orlando (besides Theme Parks.)
- Chicago, Illinois: You could literally spend a month in Chicago with kids and not do everything. Chicago offers phenomenal museums, sporting events, and cultural opportunities. Additionally, the city parks are among the best in the country. For more ideas see my post, Chicago In A Weekend.
- Grand Canyon: One rule I’ve found to be true about my kids, “the bigger, the better.” And it doesn’t get any bigger or better than the Grand Canyon. Along with exploring the natural beauty of the canyon, kids are transported into a totally different landscape with an opportunity to learn so much science and geography.
- New York City, New York: New York is a city for all ages. It’s full of charm, history, and larger than life excitement (see Grand Canyon for my “rule” on that!) A broadway musical, a trip to the Statute of Liberty, and a bus tour of the city streets, can be a great way to expose kids to the dynamic culture of New York.
- Disney Cruise: Parents looking for a balance between a trip for kids, and a relaxing vacation need to consider a Disney Cruise. Truly the most perfect vacation for families of all ages, a Disney Cruise offers endless entertainment, a safe environment, and even built in babysitting. It doesn’t get any better! If you’re left with doubts read my posts about us taking the same vacation 3 times- Part 1 and Part 2.
- Washington DC: This city is the true heartbeat of America. There is no better place to teach children about history, politics and the future of our country. Best of all, the area is rich with culture, and family friendly attractions.
- Gatlinburg, Tennessee: There is no area of the world with a landscape as diverse as Gatlinburg. One minute you’re in the middle of a National Park surrounded by gorgeous mountains, and the next minute you’re in a wildly commercialized area that rivals Vegas. Like Chicago, Gatlinburg is a city where you could spend a month and still not do everything.
- Atlanta, Georgia: I might be a little biased since it’s my hometown, but I believe Atlanta is one of the greatest cities to spend a weekend (or week) with your family. In Atlanta you will have experiences that you absolutely can’t have anywhere else. With many unique opportunities, adults will enjoy the city as much as the kids!
- ANY Beach: Although we’ve never actually lived at the beach, I can say that my children have literally grown up on the beach. Each visit has been different. We’ve gone through stages of crossing our fingers they nap in beach tents, to sandcastle building, and recently we’ve entered the skim board phase. Our memories hold countless beach trips and I’ve loved every one.
- St. Louis, Missouri: Like with my beach memories, St. Louis holds a special place in my heart. I think the unexpectedness of our weekend is why I fell in love with this city. As I wrote in my post 5 Reasons To Take Your Kids To St. Louis, this city is my daughter’s favorite based on her experience as a 5-year old. For a well traveled child, that says it all!
What is your favorite vacation to take with young kids?