I love my spoon collection from my travels. The only other person I know who collected spoons would now be over 100 years…so I know it isn’t the “cool” thing to do. But, I don’t care because my spoons represent something far more than cheap trinkets. They represent place after place of where treasured family memories occurred.
Build Vacation Memories with Your Children
Going on vacations together can strengthen family relationships and build connection. As Charles Swindoll said, “Every day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.” I like that quote because Charles Swindoll tells us, as parents, that every day we make decisions about what kinds of memories we are helping our children make.
Of course most of our children’s memories will be in the home setting, but don’t we want some of their memories to come from extraordinary travel adventures as well? If we could build a memory book for our children, wouldn’t we want some of the memories to be at sandy beaches, scenic mountains, interesting museums, yummy cuisine places, or local markets? Like I mentioned, some of my fondest memories with my family are from the vacations we went on together.
One year, when I was about 10 and my brothers were 7 and 6, my family traveled to Mexico. My mom recalls that we were talking about another one of our silly “what if” questions. She noticed another couple was listening and wondered if we were talking too loud. But, as the couple got up to leave, they stopped and mentioned how nice our family looked and how they wished their family could talk like that.
Now, I realize every family is different and we don’t know the story behind that particular woman’s comment. I also know that it can be really difficult to travel with children. Trust me-my brothers have ADHD and no one wanted to sit next to one brother because he was constantly moving and accidentally jabbing us in the side. The Mexico vacation was the same vacation that my brothers fell asleep at the dinner table- not the best dinner etiquette.
But, even though it is harder to travel with young kids, it sets an important precedence for later on. As Barbara Johnson said, “To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today.” Family vacations don’t magically start down the road. Family traditions are easier to continue when you start when they’re young.
Myths of Traveling with Kids
I love this video by Matador Network about the 4 myths of traveling with a baby. One of the myths is that taking babies (or young children) on vacations isn’t worth it because they won’t remember it. But, they argue that it is still worth it because you still have great bonding time with your children. Not all memories have to be conscious. Some memories can be unconscious, but still strengthen the connection and love that you feel as a family. These types of unconscious memories are called implicit memories. Having a fun vacation together definitely does this.
Tips for Traveling with Kids
Travel agent Karen Kinghorn recommends bringing new and exciting things as you travel to keep children as entertained as possible. Bring new toys, games, movies, and treats. When you book a flight, choose the aisle and window seat first and leave the middle free, if the numbers work out for your family. Then, there’s a possibility the middle seat will be free and it gives children a greater chance to stretch out. If someone does book the middle seat, however, then it’s easy to ask to switch and they are more than willing to take an aisle seat from you. It can also be helpful to seat one parent in front of the children. That way, if your child is kicking or jiggling the seat in front of them, it is you or your spouse being bumped and not a stranger.
But, tips only go so far. Karen said, “To be honest, it’s tough. Heck, a trip to the grocery story is challenging enough. But, like many things in life, to get great rewards it requires some effort.” She advised to keep the travel time in perspective. Sometimes just going to the doctors and orthodontist can take 5 hours, and that’s not fun with children in tow, either.
Karen traveled frequently with her children when they were young. She said she worried about annoying others with a crying baby on a plane. She advises to try to recognize that most people on the plane are parents themselves and know how difficult it is to travel with young kids. Now, Karen looks back and she sympathizes with the parents traveling with their young kids and she’s sure there are many people on the plane thinking the same thing. Of course, some people will be annoyed, but remember most people are understanding. Kids will be kids. And, as an extra tip, she said you can bring Lindt chocolate for the passengers next to you. Everyone is happier when they have chocolate (ha ha).
Finding a place to visit with kids can be both exciting and also a little challenging. Disneyland is great, but there are so many more options than Disneyland! Many options besides Disneyland are really fun for both parents and kids. Stay tuned for a future post from Karen on how to find kid friendly activities and places to vacation at.