8 reasons parents should want to travel with their kids
This is part two of my previous post about why you should take your kids traveling with you. The first part focused on the benefit to the children. In this part, I attempt to share some of the benefits that we have had as parents by having our kids with us for our travels. It’s far from exhaustive on the topic, and in reality, I have written pages and pages that I cut out of the final version to keep it post length and not book length.
Yes, traveling with your kids can be exhausting sometimes – as seen in my above photo of me being overloaded after buying the kids ice cream. But, the exhausting moments are a million times worth it for the amount of great times! There are so many reasons to take your kids traveling with you, and since I didn’t want to go on and on belaboring it, I limited this post down to the eight that I felt like including in the final draft.
Once again, traveling with your kids is 100% worth it!!
Why you should take your kids with you:
Have you ever been on a business trip and come home and tell your kids about it and you have to try to make it seem like anything but a stupid boring waste of time? I have. Once -when first married, but before I had kids- I went on a trip to San Diego and one of my colleagues was suffering from adultitis and didn’t want to go on the beach roller coaster. Lame. He said that I should do it and in a nice gesture that would absolve him of being a kill-a-joy, he gave me $10 to ride it. And you know what - it was fun! But I was alone. All alone on an awesome roller coaster. I was glad he paid for it but I learned that I didn’t want be that kind of adult – a financer of fun, but not a partaker.
But I became that adult anyway
It's as if society tells you that parenthood requires a life free from adrenaline, from laughing, from having fun. When I had kids, I suddenly had to be more responsible in lots of ways. I stopped driving way too fast, sold my motorcycle, and started flossing after every meal (or so I tell my dentist). But here's the sad part, as I accepted my role as a father, it unfortunately occurred that I continually abandoned the adventure of life - the stuff that for years had made me smile. Tragic! Sure, there is that scripture in Corinthians about putting off childish things when growing up, but it doesn’t say grow up and be a total dud.
Traveling with my kids has saved me from the endless trudge to being a dull person. Without knowing it, my kids are encouraging me getting my groove back. They want me to go on roller coasters with them. Play in the ocean in jeans when I forget my swim suit. Bury me in sand. Paint my face. Nerf Wars. Play Legos. Build car tracks. It's been great. Maybe someone reading this is like how I was (historically fun, but getting dull) and if so maybe it's time to get on the road with your kids.
So this is a great reason why you should take your kids traveling. If your kids are anything like mine, they will enhance your travel because they will spit in the eye of your dumb “being a responsible adult” mentality that would have you not jumping in puddles after a rainstorm. Jump in the puddles and travel with your kids. You won't regret it, your trip will be awesome!
This is really the point of all of it. It’s not just an adventure, it’s about developing deep relationships with the most important people to us. We spend so much time physically together that growing closer emotionally is inevitable. We sit around campfires, watch surfers, look at stars, shop, clean, work, etc. We do so much together that a closer family is one of the great benefits of traveling together.
It’s great to be there when your child discovers something they love. Do they love history? Geology? Do they have an aptitude for maps or math? Do they love animals or beaches? By traveling, we observe our children in so many different situations and environments. It really gives us a front row seat to them discovering amazing things. It’s a great experience!
We see people all the time who take their dogs RVing with them …. because they like their dogs. We like our kids – so we take them with us. That’s a simple way to put it but it’s true. When you like someone, you want to spend time with them. So, if you are going on trip – take the people you like with you. You only have a small window to take your kids with you, if you wait till they are grown and have families of their own – that might not work out.
Kids can’t go at a grueling pace. They need to break things up. This means you have to slow down and take breaks more often. This might seem like a hinderance to your agenda, but when you press pause it gives you a chance to regroup. This is a good thing. Before I had kids I would take road trips and it would be go go go from the moment I left my house, to the moment I got back. It’s good to slow the pace down a bit.
Friends, acquaintances, and colleagues come and go through your life, but your family stays. You should want them around as much as possible because no one else really matters.
I remember as a young child when my parents would leave us with a baby sitter and go out for the evening. I would stand by the window waiting for them to come home because I was worried that they wouldn’t come back for some reason. Our children should be our top priority, not one of our lowest – and the children should know that too. Have you ever seen the 1982 movie Savannah Smiles? In the beginning the little girl is more or less abandoned on her birthday by her parents who felt that a ski trip was more important than Savannah’s birthday. Savannah felt un-loved. Parents should never act in a way that would make a child feel unloved. Take the child with you on your trip. In the long run, it will benefit a parent to not give them an abandonment complex.
Your kids are your responsibility, not someone else’s. If you can’t afford to take the whole family to some exotic Instagram location, don't just pawn the kids off and do it anyway - but instead, scale back your plan to include your kids. They are your kids, they don't want to be pawned off, they want to go with you. This might mean you might not get to snorkel with manatees while your kids are young - so what.
I am an advocate of not waiting till retirement to travel so traveling while you still have kids at home might take some planning. It took us a little over two years to get ready to hit the road full time - it was worth it. If I haven't convinced you and you think that you will just opt to wait till your kids are out of the house, that's fine - but let me just tell you my observation from the road. Retirees have less health and energy than their travel ambitions were when they put off the travel. They also said, “When we retire, we will do this, this, this, and this”. The reality is that with age comes sore muscles, aching backs and bad knees. You can still plan do it, but with waiting comes the risk of an unknown future. Waiting until the kids are out of the house puts your travel ambitions on a race against the ticking clock of an aging body and you might not get to see all the things you had once hoped to.
So, suck it up, adjust your plan as needed - but most importantly, take the kids with you.- Matt
… on the next Ditching Suburbia blog post: Tabitha has a bunch of articles she's written on some places we've been. Going to do a content blitz on those. Then after that I have a list of things we use while RVing to make our life easier ... so stay tuned.