Guest written by AJ Ratani and Natasha Sandhir. The couple traveled around the world with their son Aarav. Visiting 31 countries and six continents as a family, they documented their year-long travel and trips on their family travel blog.
Too often, after hearing about our year-long, around-the-world trip with our son, we are asked about hard it was to travel with a toddler. So many parents tell us they are waiting for their children to be older before hitting the road. We won’t lie… traveling with young kids is hard work, sometimes. But is also extremely rewarding. We are filled with fantastic memories, have learned some valuable lessons, and would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
Why should you travel while your kids are young?
- It’s easier and cheaper than you think. Little kids are very adaptable and easily distracted which means they will go with flow and follow your lead. Kids also get tons of perks, such as free entry to museums and attractions, free food, and getting ahead in line when you board a plane or at immigration! In addition, technology has made it easier to keep your child busy in a restaurant or on a plane ride and give you a break.
- You’ll build resilient and open-minded kids. Traveling with kids when they’re young teaches them not only how to travel, but educates them on patience when dealing with delays and things outside of their control. You are formulating their future as travelers, and what they learn while young makes travel easier for when they are older. Your child will also see different people and cultures, which makes them more open-minded and cultured as they age. While we were traveling the world, our son interacted with tourists in China, safari guides in Botswana, grandmothers in Spain, and other kids in Peru – he certainly wouldn’t meet so many different people in school!
- You’ll have priceless memories. We will never forget our son saying “elephant” for the first time while on safari in Botswana when he saw elephants in the wild. Nor the time he swam with turtles in the Galapagos Islands. Studies have found that traveling together as a family creates a bond and memories that children cherish for a lifetime and will pass on to their own children, as well as bring a family closer. Why not discover if they are true? Traveling with your kids at different stages in their lives also creates different experiences for parents. You’ll get to be a kid again by doing things you haven’t done since you were little yourself.
- You’ll become a better parent. After dealing with the unpredictability that often accompanies travel, you’ll become more flexible as parents. Our son had to adapt to various sleeping situations, from the plane to the car to time zones to new hotels and houses. We discovered if he didn’t take an afternoon nap, it wasn’t the end of the world. We just adjusted and put him to bed earlier. When a restaurant didn’t have a kids’ menu, we learned how to feed him earlier or to share our food with him so we could still eat out.
Don’t put off your chance to see and experience new places until your kids are older when you can combine the rewards of parenting with the rewards of travel! This past year was one we will always cherish.