Travel is one of the things we like doing as a family. We love planning for roadtrips and out of town trips during holidays. Of course, vacations out of the country are special and takes more time (and resources) so planning is longer and more deliberate.
Our last trip overseas was in October 2016. It was our first trip as a family of five and our first time in Osaka, Japan as well. A lot of people were a little surprised that we were bringing 12-month J to the trip. Some even suggested to leave him with my mom so that we can enjoy more.
“It’s difficult to travel with a baby.”
“Leave him with his Laly (Grandma). He’s too young to remember this, anyway.”
I do recognize that bringing a baby with us on a trip changes the pace and even our itinerary but we really didn’t have the heart to leave him this time.
Truth be told, that trip was my first time to fly with a baby. S was already 2 years old when we first travelled by plane and it was only a 2-hour local trip. That was also F’s first time to ride a plane and he was almost 4 years old during that time. Admittedly, I was also a little anxious so I sought help from a friend who is a seasoned traveller with babies. Thank God for her and the tips she shared, some I really would not have thought of myself.
Many well-meaning friends advised N & I to wait when the baby is older before we bring him along in our travels. I guess every one has their own preferences and I believe that we each should follow our gut. But for those of you considering travel with kids, here are my five reasons why I think you should go for it (as I did) no matter what age:
1. TRAVEL = FAMILY BONDING TIME – When we travel as a family, we are stuck with each other’s company whether we like it or not. Inevitably, there are times when we get into each other’s nerves! Like when N would get frustrated with me when I navigate wrongly… or when F would be irritated with S and her constant bugging 😛. For most parts though, we find it to be a great opportunity to reconnect and bond. We get the chance to talk, have fun and create memories.
2. TRAVEL PROVIDES for NEW & BIGGER ROLES – I remember one time when we planned a trip to Boracay with friends. N had a business trip scheduled so we decided that it was most practical to just meet in Boracay. This meant travelling with F & S (then 8 and 6 years old) by myself. It was a pleasant surprise that the kids rose to the occasion and picked up after themselves.
During this recent Japan trip, S was such a helpful assistany to me, especially when taking care of baby J. On the other hand, F was a willing helper to his dad, carrying our luggage and even navigating around the city. They also learned how to be more responsible with keeping their own tickets, buying their meals and keeping their own stuff.
3. TRAVEL TEACHES ADAPTABILITY and FLEXIBILITY – We all know that the most well thought-out travel plans can still go wrong. Delayed flights, missing baggaes, weather abberations. These things will teach our kids how to adjust and make the most out of unforeseen situations. In this trip, we initially wanted to go to Universal Studios mainly for the Harry Potter experience. After checking though, the crowd estimate was outrageous! I actually still wanted to give it a try (being a HP fan that I am). It was F who put things in perspective — that it would be difficult for J and that we would not really enjoy if there is waaaaay too much people. S said that since they’ve been to two other Universal Studios anyway, they’re willing to wait a few more years till J is ready for theme parks. How is that for flexible?
4. TRAVEL LETS US DISCOVER THE WORLD FROM A DIFFERENT ANGLE – Experiencing a diffent culture first hand helps us appreciate better those things that are different from what we’re used to. Personally, I used to dislike Japanese people (think World War II and how the Japanese invaded the Philippines). But having been in close contact with them in this trip showed me how they are nice people,
courteous, polite and very helpful. I believe that when we expose our children to more of the world and its varying cultures, they will become more inclusive and accepting of others. They will accept and appreciate diversity much easier.
5. TRAVEL PROVIDES A BETTER LEARNING EXPERIENCE – Learning about a city or country by reading about it is so much different from actually experiencing it. Travelling gives the kids a better learning opportunity as they see, feel, touch and taste what a place has to offer. That was the case when they went to Times Square in New York or ate fresh sushi at the Kuromon market or rode the elephants in Thailand. The experience makes everything more tangible and memorable.
And so, while there may be real inconveniences travelling with kids, for me, the benefits outweigh them by leaps and bounds that we will travel with the kids as often as we can 😊