In this post: I tell you all the reasons why we travel with young kids. I share my personal life stories that changed my out look on family and travel.
Someone recently asked me how we can afford to travel so often with three young kids. It must be very stressful, they said.
This got me thinking… I wasn’t always this way. I hated traveling. Traveling with little kids was out of question.
Once upon a time, I couldn’t think about traveling with young children. I just couldn’t. To be blunt: I was scared of breaking my son . I was also afraid to be caught unprepared for what lay ahead. You know, that feeling you get … wide eyed like a deer in headlights … when you think of something you have absolutely no experience with… Call it lack of confidence in myself but as you know, confidence is all about stepping out of your comfort zone… something which I was not ready to do.
When my son was 8 months old, my husband was offered a chance to travel to Malaysia. We didn’t go because we didn’t feel we could travel with a little baby. How would we manage in a foreign country with a little crawler. It would be too stressful for him. Too much the hassle, we felt. We turned down the offer. I chose to go to India while my husband travelled.
Things are so different now. In the past 9 years, we have seen most parts of Saudi Arabia.. With kids. Most of it we road tripped but we flew quite a bit too. Last year, we packed up our bags, and our three kids , to fly to North America for a road trip adventure . We had two children under 3 years old then but that didn’t stop us.
Why? What changed? How did we become this family? Let me tell you the reasons why we travel with young children now.
Why We Travel with Young Children
1. There is never a chance like now to make memories.
This is emotional. Grab some tissues.
In 2011, I lost of my eldest daughter. It was sudden. We didn’t think it was possible that we could suddenly lose a member of our family like this. She was just 1 year old when she passed away.
It was after her death that I realized that my best memories of her were from the trips that we had made during the one summer that I got with her.
We had flown to Riyadh for Eid. We had taken a train to Dammam with my BIL and his family. We had stayed at a furnished apartment by the sea in Al Khobar. We had played in the waters of Half Moon Bay. I had pictures of her running about with joy.
Zara is gone now. She is no more… but the one year that I had with her, I look through the pictures now and I see it all come alive. The memories tell me that I did my best with her. I gave her everything that I could in that little span of time that I was given. We enjoyed each other to the fullest.
Time will not come back. I don’t care. I need not turn back time and wish we had done things differently. I played, I clicked her pics, I did my very best as a mom and I traveled with her to show her the world.
2. How to Travel with young kids.
They are learning, we are learning.
I know many of you wonder how to cope with young kids on long road trips and flights. It is not easy traveling with children. How to feed them on the go? How to entertain them; how to not let them get bored and stressed… what to pack… potty training while traveling is so difficult! Yes, I hear you.
It is difficult to travel with young kids. There is so much preparation to do but more than that, there is so much to juggle from the word GO.
But it can be done. I have been there.
The first time is the most difficult because you don’t know what to do or how to plan. Once you do get over that first step (of worrying about how you will do it) you will do it … and you will do it well. The kids will be cranky the first time… may be the second too… but they will learn to adjust. I promise.
Last year when we went to the US, it was our first time on the roads with their strict rules. Also, plane travel in the US is SO much different than in the rest of the world. The first day we arrived in New York, we almost got arrested when my daughter escaped from her car seat… in front of an officer.
Traveling by plane was really difficult too. My 3yr old’s seat came next to a lady with a Labrador on her lap. The 2 year old was so excited and sleepy that she wailed all through the flight and that excited the dog! Imagine that.
We got through it. We travelled by plane in a few days again and we road tripped all around Canada the next month. The kids had learnt that that was the way it will be. They understood that they had to sit in their car seats. They learnt that there are more exciting things to come just around the corner. We learnt how to Parent like a Ninja. 🙂 Be ready to give a karate chop to all of what comes your way.
3. We learn about the World together.
The best thing that we have learnt from traveling around the world with kids, is that we are both learning about the world together.
10 years ago, I was working on my first job as a science editor. We had to fill out a Bio to be included for our profile. There was a fun question that we had to answer in it : Where do you see yourself in 10 years time.
10 years, when you are freshly out of University, seem like a very long time later. I had answered that ’10 years later, I hope I would be traveling the world on my own private Yacht’.
The private yacht didn’t happen but hey, I think I got it right. 🙂
My children are learning about the world from the start. They know what manners they should keep while in other countries. How to keep safe while in public. How to entertain themselves quietly when you’re sitting next to a stranger. Or… at least I am trying to teach them that.
When we road trip, they look out of the window and write down what they see. I was very pleased when my 5 year old did that while going to Yanbu last week. On our way back, the 3 year old was drawing her map in her notebook. I didn’t teach them that. I only gave them the notebook and my pen to keep them busy. They learnt to draw maps and directions by themselves.
4. I am teaching them to not judge the gardens.
I hope, I am, actually.
My main reason for taking my children around the world is to show them how different people live. I want them to see the seasons and how different (beautiful) the world is. We have seen the lush valleys, to high mountains, to the colors of Fall to barren lands and deserts where nothing grows, to deserts where flowers bloom, to deserts that hide magical forests.
Before I got married, I had been to no other country except India and Saudi Arabia. I had family who had been to the UK and other places. One of them had said, ‘India was a Jungle, Saudi was a desert and that London was civilized’.
I felt offended. If you judge a country by it’s nature and seasons, you need a little education. If you judge the people by their culture, you need to clear your glasses.If you judge a country by it's nature and seasons, you need a little education. If you judge the people by their culture, you need to clear your glasses.Click To Tweet
When I travel with my young children, I want them to see the colors of the world. When they see the seasons as they change, I want them to remember how beautiful God is and praise Him. He rolled out lush green carpets in some places… and then hid secret little Oasis in some. He changes the weather in some countries while some don’t need that change at all.When I travel with my young children, I want them to see the colors of the world. Click To Tweet
There are different colors of seasons, of flowers, of plants, of fruits, of animals… of people. People think differently… mostly according to their conditions. That does not mean they are wrong. The have different manners. That does not mean they are rude or unfriendly.
If you judge a country, or their people… it makes you look rude and unfriendly.
5. I am teaching them to eat.
The first time I traveled with my young child, I used to carry everything with me. Even water. I remember the first time I had taken D, I had taken his formula, cereals, fruits ( because he only ate Royal Gala Apples ) and Baby water! Imagine that. I had taken 60 bottles of mineral water for his formula and feedings. I threw three cartons in my luggage. I was ‘that mom’.
With my second child… it was almost as much even though she was exclusively breastfed. It was after I had my third child, that I started cutting down on the stuff I took for them. Where, once upon a time, it was outright shocking if my child was fed anything local, I started to let go.
Actually, I was expecting my fourth when we were traveling with my third. I was severely HG and unable to take care of myself. My mother and sisters were taking care of the children. Interesting enough, my kids ate everything local and more, yet not one of them fell sick!
Since then, I don’t bother with worrying about food at all. Call it a coincidence or may be my hard work (!)that my children eat everything. We try new foods every weekend when I cook a new recipe mostly from another culture and they are the first ones to try it.
Traveling has definitely helped me feed them better. When we stop to consider our options at a new place, they are willing to try new foods. My youngest is a picky one but while travelling I have found that she is more cooperative.
6. I learnt to pack.
No wait. This is the #1 reason why I travel with young kids! I FINALLY know how to pack!
We don’t live out of a suitcase. My lugguage doesn’t get opened as soon as I get home. I don’t pack 6 suitcases and 3 hand bags with a stroller and baby bag. Nothing wrong with that but…
I learnt to pack.
Once upon a time, I would be trying to pack for two weeks prior to our flight and still have nothing done because my baby and toddler or both, would be getting into them and pulling things out. There would be three open suitcases lying around and I would have everything all over the house.
Now, the night before our one week trip, if my husband asks me if I am done, I am very cool when I reply ‘I’ll do it in the morning‘. He will calmly accept that I will too instead of throwing a fit on how I will get everything done. The next day, I’d get up, have breakfast, check my mail, Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram over tea, clean the kitchen and then go see if I have any clean clothes to put in our strolley bag. 🙂
Ofcourse, I’d have clean clothes. They are all on the couch. 😉
I have also learnt with frequent traveling that I only wear flip flops or running shoes on vacations. I don’t need five pairs of shoes or 9 dresses for 7 days. I don’t need all my make up too.
Yes, I was ‘that mom’.
I laugh at myself now but seriously, I was THAT mom. I would have remained that mom too if it hadn’t been for our frequent traveling. I should be thankful to my husband too. He made me this person. Read this post about me laughing at his travel habits from my first trips with him. I am laughing at myself now. (Read the post? I know… I was terrible!)
So… that’s it. These are the six reasons why I love to travel with young kids. It makes me live life to the fullest and let go of things that don’t matter.