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Why travel with kids when they are young
A few years ago when our daughter was 2 we began to discuss returning to our old 'traveller ways'. We of course suffered from withdrawal symptoms for her first two years as we opted to stay local (enough) and yearned to get moving and discover foreign lands again. One of our wants was also to initiate The Kid Trotter into such a lifestyle. As we planned our first long haul trip, I can remember vividly a comment from an older lady which went a little like this : “There is no point in going traveling with a child so young, she will not even remember it ”
We travelled to Mexico when she was 2 despite the comments of this older lady. And what entailed was an experience that confirmed and reinforced our belief that travel is good for children no matter what age they are (and whether they are going to 'remember' it in 10 years or not)
“She can hardly speak her mother languages(s) so feeding her spanish for two weeks is not going to do her any good.”
Often it's a little too simplistic to sum things up with a first degree explanation like this. Ok she was too young to string a spanish phrase together but it did not stop us repeating the basics. Perhaps a few weeks later she could no longer recall those words but as we spoke of this trip 2 years later whilst preparing our Argentina trip, The Kid Trotter was convinced that she could speak spanish. Obviously speaking a language holds a different meaning for a child but the powerful point here is that she knew she could do it. The psychological barrier of 'ohhh foreign languages are too hard' did not exist. This psychological barrier is one we all struggle with even as adults and prevents so many of us from fulfilling our potentials and ambitions. Enabling children to overcome this is perhaps one of the greatest gifts one can give to ones little ones...
Staying with the language just for one minute when she used the basic spanish words to a local she was greeted with a big smile and it was very clear that it did her confidence a massive boost. Confidence is not something they teach in schools (I may in fact argue that they often do the opposite quite often... in another post perhaps). This is a domain reserved for parents I believe, and how you nurture your child, encourage them and reward them. In this very early trip we encouraged her to say Gracias , por favor. And when she was too shy we would play a game to see who could say it better than Dad (which was not hard). She quickly gained in confidence and was no longer shy about using these words or trying to express herself in a foreign language. I'm often told that the reason the french people are so bad at languages (not my view but the view of a lot of french people i have spoken too) is that they are afraid to look silly in front of others and therefore lack the confidence to try .... and learn ...from their mistakes.
On this early trip to Mexico we met a great like minded German couple that have a daughter the same age as ours. We have kept up contact and visited each other on several occasions. This is awesome because The Kid Trotter is in a French/German school and these trips have enabled her to experience true german culture and improve her language.
However in more general terms boths kids and parents meet people from different cultures and countries
Food wise I always point friends and family to a great article on the difference on how the french and american (or english) approach food and dinners with their kids : Food and good nutrition is something i'm passionate about so i do find it a thought provoking article. I'm not saying it is 100% accurate but I have seen it to be true in alot of cases I have seen.
We have always tried to approach eating in a healthy manner. At this very young age she was just coming off her bottle. We did, however encourage her to taste the local food and to marvel at the colorful markets that we visited. These experiences abroad if managed correctly ( go to Mc Market rather that McDo) ensure for the most part that children grow up with a deep appreciation for new and different tastes, healthy food and fruit & veg. True you do not necessarily have to travel to do this with your kids, but it is alot more fun in foreign (and hotter) lands (See our market scenes here EP 1 - Visiting the market and old town in Hanoi)
In a day and age where for the most part two parents work, quality time with kids can quickly become very limited. If one is stuck to the 9-5 grind (with a commute) the mornings can be stressful to get the kids up, clothed, fed and ready for a nanny or school and the evenings short. For a lot of people the weekend may be taken up with some shopping and cleaning and then the rest of the time is dedicated to the children. It can be sad that sometimes the things most precious in life (our kids) lack more quality time. For us getting away for long periods is vital to spending as much quality time as possible. You may say again that travel or foreign travel is not necessary for this, but for us it is very much linked as it allows us complete rest away from everything know.
I'm not too sure who said this phrase and i may be butchering it but 'The only constant is change' . As the economy becomes even more internet based, technology orientated and fast moving change is the norm. Job security is becoming a thing of the past, and i can see this trend continue at an alarming pace. It's not a shift that should be feared, more so embraced. This is one of the reasons we as adults travel, as change is good for us and opens our horizons and nurtures our entrepreneurial spirits (eg :The Kid Trotter video series evolved out of our travels ) For our children I think it is important they understand that change is good and is more than anything an opportunity to learn and develop. Providing a living example of this mentality is perhaps the best way for them to understand and apply a similar approach as they grow.
There are many great family travel bloggers on the net that you should follow that do some amazing things with their children and/or infants. They step outside the mental barriers of what one can do with kids. Take a trip over to them get some inspiration ! We, inspired by many of these, decided to launch a video series not only for adults but for kids in a humble attempt to convey the powerful wealth travel brings to families.
Do you travel with young kids ? If so what are the challenges and rewards you have experienced ? Do you rather not travel with kids ? Why ?