Why It’s Important to Travel With My Kids

Traveling with kids is more difficult than without. Hands down, bar none. I say this based on my own experience: my pre-parent self lived and traveled in Southeast Asia for two years in her mid-twenties, and my now-mama self just finished her first two-week air/road trip with a baby and a toddler.

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free tickets when they’re under two, but you have to hold them on your lap…

In what now seems like my past life, traveling was a breeze and a joy – buy a ticket, throw some shit in a bag, and open up the Lonely Planet guide on the plane ride so  when you land, you can tell a taxi to take you wherever you plan to ask for a room. Head out on daily road trips not knowing how far you’ll go, or sometimes where you’ll stay that night. Rent scooters to get around, since all your stuff fits on your back anyway. Eat when you’re hungry, from any old joint or roadside stall you come across. Peruse quiet sights like temples or museums at leisure. Walk city streets all day, just enjoying the bustle, without getting bored. Stay out late, experiencing the nightlife, and sleep in the next day if you want to, or take an afternoon nap – whatever you feel like. (God, thinking about it makes me miss those days so much…)

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John, on our trip to Cambodia in 2011…

The beauty of travel, for me, has always been the possibilities. I see, breathe, hear and feel a new place, whether it’s cottage country here in Canada or a big city across the globe, and it presents possibilities for daily life that are fresh and exciting to me, in how its residents work, play, dine, commute, marry, parent, and make “home” with their families and communities. I project these new possibilities onto myself, comparing them to my own ordinary ways and reflecting on how different my life, and my self, might be if I lived or was raised in this place instead.

On my most recent trip, now with kidlets, I still felt my usual sense of awe and rejuvenation – it was my first time in the Rocky Mountains, which are nothing if not majestically awe-inspiring. I found myself wondering how different I might be if I had been born and raised in Western Canada among these mountains: Would I be an avid camper and hiker? Would an off-road vehicle be my everyday driver? Would I have an intrinsic sense of independence, resilience, and adventure from having grown into myself among such a difficult, captivating, exhilarating natural environment? Would I like country music? (Okay, that last one makes me shudder a little.) Apologies to any Western Canadians who were born and raised here, as I’m sure this all seems very ignorant and stereotypically “Ontarian” to say.

Logistically, of course, things were different on this trip to my former traveling days. No more sleeping in, but a few mornings, I did take a nap when my infant went down after a few early wakeful hours. Accommodations had to be arranged well in advance, and my packing list precision game has gone WAY up – not only because I need so much more shit that is necessary with kids, but because I also have to be super efficient with space: we’ve gained two extra travellers, but we have to carry them and all their stuff. Meals have to be more regularly timed each day, excursions have to consider feedings and naps, and almost every evening, we were home to our rental places for the usual supper, bath, and bedtime routine. Our nights were spent staying in with the monitor on.

People always told me to get my traveling done before I had kids, because you just “can’t” with them. It’s definitely not the same, but despite these differences (not to mention two pretty awful plane rides), I am inspired to keep traveling with my kids. I want them to see me be the excited, freed person I am when I travel, soaking up each new day and the potential it brings to see and learn something new. (I also want to make sure I still get to be that person every once in awhile, so I can bring some of her home with me!) I want my kids to know that wonder at the world doesn’t end with childhood, and that even though it might seem at times like I know everything (right?), there are many things I’m still itching to discover.

20160714_100051Even more, I want my kids to experience this same sense of wonder and possibility for themselves. I want them to marvel at the world around them and notice the differences that place makes in the way people live their everyday lives, even if it’s not very far away from home and the differences are small. I want them to try new things, to try on being a new kind of person, even if it’s only temporary until we return to the comforts of home. Because someday, even though it will kill me with missing them, I want them to desire their own adventurous living. I want them to feel that mixture of excitement and nervousness that comes with having everything you need strapped on your back  or crammed into a car and heading off into the unknown.

20160714_105231And then, of course, I want them to realize that home is the best place and come back!

 

 

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1 Comment

  1. doubleindemnity says:

    Awww, Lindsay, this summed up my recent experience travelling with N for the first time. I hemmed and hawed for weeks about our summer vacation, whether we should even bother, and then committed to flying, rather than driving to Montreal, as we do each summer to visit friends. I underestimated how adaptable N would be. Although we didn’t do any of the things we would have done pre-baby, we had a great time travelling as a new family. It was truly an example of our “new normal”. I’m already looking forward to next year’s trip.

    Liked by 1 person

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