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A question I sometimes get from my family and friends, especially those who don’t travel often, is why bother traveling with kids–especially young ones who are unlikely to remember what they’re seeing anyway?
Why put yourself through the misery and stress of lengthy packing, wriggling diapers into a suitcase (I actually have a great solution for this that saves tons of space, but more on that later), buying and bringing special equipment (have you ever stared at the baby travel section—floor to ceiling wall—inside Buy Buy Baby?!), and lugging of strollers, car seats, falling sippy cups, and germ-infested pacifiers that just can’t seem to stay inside baby’s mouth? (It’s no secret that traveling with babies is tiring. I’m tired just writing that. But soo worth the hassle, I swear!)
I used to think this way as well when my eldest daughter was a baby. In fact for the first two years of her life we didn’t travel anywhere with her by plane other than a few road trips here and there, (I would have taken the security of endless space in the trunk of my car over an overhead compartment any day) and a solo parent flight to Mexico. Though my husband and I constantly disagreed about this (he wanted to take a family vacation and I was terrified).
Finally one day, tired of arguing with him and hearing that I was keeping us from experiencing the beauty of the world together as a family, I relented and started searching for “toddler and baby friendly vacations” as by then we also had our second daughter, then still a baby. We’d heard from friends about their tweens new favorite family vacation, a Disney Cruise but didn’t know anyone who had taken one with babies before (spoiler alert: it ended up being the best and easiest baby vacation, and the gateway drug for us into Disney, but that’s a lengthy story for another upcoming day ).
It was on that first trip I learned many things about our family, and myself as a mom, as I was finally forced to mother alone, without the close support of helping family members nearby. We had the opportunity to spend uninterrupted quality time as my husband couldn’t go to work (and due to limited internet access onboard a cruise ship couldn’t contact wok often either). But most of all, without the stress and obligations of everyday life our sole focus was simply to have fun. I saw my children constantly smiling, laughing, playing, and happy. And in turn, so were we as parents watching them.
Now I’m not going to exaggerate and say it was all rosy and the Disney magic greeted us at Gate 42B of Detroit Metro Airport. No; Tink didn’t wave her magic wand and suddenly make my kids perfectly behaved on a flight that was easy-peasy—not even close. In truth, the flights were a disaster, and I do plan on writing a post about it and how having those bad flights made me a better traveling mom, (and what you can do to avoid my own mistakes and mishaps).
But flight aside, when it was all said and done, I was sad to see that uninterrupted time with my family end and the dazzle of constant exploration leave my kids eyes. Maybe it’s the teacher in me that knows that kids learn better through field trips and by “doing”, as opposed to simply sitting back and viewing. Either way, I couldn’t wait to do it again and again.