Congratulations, you had a baby, you never get to leave your house again! Uh, NOPE! I know it can feel that way sometimes but it simply is not true. Having children will absolutely change your life, every part of it, but if you love to travel, your kids probably will too. Yes, the younger they are, they harder children can be to travel with but kids grow fast. What’s that saying? The days are long but the years are short. Blink and your infant will be a 13 year old who is taller than you are. Ask me how I know. (I really should have seen this coming, my husband is 6’3″.)
That said, you only have a few years of having children home with you to travel with them as a family. Take advantage of the time. Travel with small kids, travel with big kids, get those kids out to see the world around them. Broaden their horizons and teach them that a whole world exists outside of their little town. Yes, there will be days that you wish you’d never left the house what with the whining and arguing but there will be more days that you are SO glad you got to enjoy.
Traveling is a great way to bond with your kids. You’ll get to see the world through their eyes. You can take them places you visited as a child or you can experience new things together. You’ll make memories and teach life skills. Oh so many life skills! That’s a topic for another day though.
Chances are you think your kids are funny. Well, pint-sized or taller than you, they are probably funnier when they travel. Breaking out of routines and schedules brings this out in people perhaps because they feel freer. The kids might even get along with each other, *gasp*! (Do not say it out loud though, you don’t want to jinx it!) When you take kids out into the world, hilarity is sure to ensue. If it happens at Target, it can happen at the Grand Canyon. You’ll likely find yourselves in weird situations, due to travel delays, new food options, or just because you are tired. Enjoy the weird stuff and laugh. Twenty-five years later my family still talks about chip bags exploding as we drove up into the mountains, melted steps in Utah, a sneezing fit that sent 4 of us into giggles and 1 of us into terror that we were going to drive off the cliff in Mesa Verde, the guide’s reaction to Dad’s hat staying on through class 3 rapids, my brothers’ very own “radio show” in the backseat of the van complete with commercials for random household items, and the strange juggling waiter at Perkins. Sometimes it is the kids who are funny and sometimes it’s their reactions. Enjoy and maybe keep a journal.
Sometimes things go WRONG. Have you ever been in a camper in Nebraska during a wind storm that spawned tornadoes? Have you ever been driving through the desert and had your engine overheat? Have you been on the wrong side of the swiftly, and historically, rising Mississippi and had your engine overheat again? No? Lucky you. All of these things happened on the same trip as the hysterics in the section above. A little adversity does tend to bring a family together. It also teaches kids that if you work together, you can get through just about anything. Kids and adults alike learn resilience and that laughter really does help. It makes us better people and better families.
So get out there with your kids. Go for day trips, weekend trips, or month long adventures. Do what fits your interests, time, and budget but do explore with your kids. They grow fast and the memories of traveling together will stay with them for a lifetime.