So often I hear people say, “oh we’re waiting to travel when little Johnny is old enough to remember,” or even “I don’t think we’ll start taking the kids until they’re at least 8 or so and can really appreciate it.”  I can’t begin to describe to you how much I disagree – on so many levels! Life is so short, and there are memories to be made at every age and interval. Some of our greatest memories have been made while travelling with our little guy, and we’ve found the benefits of travel in his AND our lives to be so profound that we’ve rearranged our priorities to allow us to continue to do so.  Here’s my top five reasons for travelling with a young toddler or baby:

  1. You’re right, they may not remember it.  But you will!

If you’re travelling with a very young child, you’re right – they’re probably not going to remember it.  But I promise you that you will. There are so many delights in seeing things through a young child’s eyes.  Having those memories of your baby tracing his fingers on the wall of the Vatican, or toddling along the beach in Hawaii are irreplaceable and something you’ll cherish forever.  Besides, you may be surprised! My three year old vividly discusses swimming with dolphins “on the big ship” during a cruise we took before he had even turned two!

2.Learning about different cultures and traditions is invaluable!

Firsthand experience in learning about different cultures, traditions, historical monuments and natural phenomena is perhaps the best education you can give your children!  Whether it’s seeing a volcano with their own eyes, or the Colloseum, having the world come to life before them is truly a gift. Beyond that, learning to interact with people who speak different languages than them, and having an appreciation for other people’s customs and culture is a valuable life skill.  When it is instilled so early in a child, it will come naturally to them! As an added bonus, being exposed to different cuisines has been a HUGE benefit in my son’s young life! He’ll eat everything from squid to escargot – things I never dreamed my toddler would adore. Believe, he likes pizza and macaroni and cheese too, but I love the adventurous taste in food that he has developed from our travels during his early years.

3. “Experiences Over Things”

If your goal is to instill an appreciation in the value of experiences over things, there’s no greater time to start than from the very beginning!  By showing your child the emphasis you place on quality time spent together from their very first memories, you’re instilling that value on them from the start.

4. Take advantage of free or reduced costs for your child!

This one is a no brainer – take advantage of reduced prices while you can!  Children under 2 can fly on your lap without having to pay for an extra ticket – you just pay for the tax!  These savings can be huge, especially when taking longer trips. Our little guy flew on our laps to Italy and Hawaii.  Infants and small children can stay for free at many resorts – and they are free all the way up until the age of 3 at Walt Disney World and Disneyland!  Particularly if you have older children as well, this is a great way to still take those amazing vacations you’d love to without paying through the nose for a little guy or gal!

5. Life is short!

It seems simple, but it’s true – life is so short, and there is so much to see in the world!  If you put off so many things in life (and travel in particular), there will be so much to miss out on.  Often times we get caught up in the rigors of life, thinking “it’ll be easier when x happens” or “I’ll do it once y is over.”  There is rarely a perfect time for anything, and at the end of your life it’s the moments and memories made with loved ones that shine through everything.  So take the trip, with your baby or young toddler in tow, and show them the world…you’re teaching them the value of time spent together from the very beginning, and nothing is more important than that!

They say you only get 18 summers with your children before they are off to college and starting their own lives.  I’m all about making the most of these years, and making my little guy a citizen of the world – travel from an early age is essential to that for us!