When in Rome…?
Traveling with kids isn’t easy. We’ve been doing it, rather aggressively, since our children were 3 and 1. The reaction received from friends and family is often one of surprise, sometimes envy, and most commonly, a simple, wide-eyed gesture that says “no thank you- you guys are insane.” Now, at 6 and 4, our kids continue to experience different countries, embracing new cultures, cuisines, languages, and ways of life around the world- making their share of international “e-pals” along the way.
To those who view our seemingly nomadic lifestyle in a positive light, but just don’t think they could swing it themselves, I always make sure to emphasize: No, traveling with kids isn’t easy. It’s not relaxing. You will never sit on a beach with little ones and be able to close your eyes, concerning yourself with nothing more than whether your next Margarita will be frozen or on the rocks. It won’t be a honeymoon… It’s an adventure.
There’s so much to be gained, traveling with kids, as you’re opening their eyes to an exciting world entirely different from the one they know at home. Watching our son and daughter, giddy in astonishment as the Eiffel Tower, a monument they’d seen countless times in photos and cartoons, sparkled in front of them, was a big parenting win, as far as we were concerned. Moments like this, and those when we overhear them reminiscing about our visit to the Colosseum, or describing the Mona Lisa, in detail to their friends, makes the endured outbursts, messes and continual chaos that comes along with traveling with offspring, completely worth it.
Now, let’s be honest- is doing anything with kids ever easy or relaxing? (Spoiler alert: it’s not.) With that said, instead of anchoring yourselves at home for the next 10 years, why not deal with the inevitable tantrums, sibling rivalry and diaper changes, while exploring Paris or Rome? There’s no need to limit the emotional fireworks and bathroom-related accidents to your local grocery store, or nearby playground port-a-potty. With so much to gain and nothing to lose (let’s face it, your sanity flew the coop a long time ago), I guarantee that you will all look back together, grateful that you did, recalling the day that Suzy learned to ride a bike in Brazil, or that time Little Johnny pooped his pants in Provence.
Kids in The Colosseum
I am the product of parents who took their kids abroad at a young age. In fact, we visited Italy before ever heading to Disney World, which in hindsight was likely not the best decision on my Mom and Dad’s part. After seeing ancient Roman ruins up close and personal, Orlando’s make-believe Main Street USA left me, then a jaded 8-year-old, less than impressed, proclaiming on arrival, “everything. here. is. so. fake…” And as I grew up and we traveled more, there were, of course, times when I would have preferred to skip the trip and stay stateside like my friends, instead of touring yet another foreign country. Still, it wasn’t long before I matured a bit and began to appreciate the opportunities I’d been given, being able to witness the places and people my friends only read about in social studies or history class.
Me, my parents, and my brother, Alex – Florence, Italy in the ’90s
Clearly, all of that childhood travel left significant impact, and I want to ensure my own kids have the same kinds of experiences that I was lucky enough to, growing up.
So, take the trip. Bring the kids. In doing so, you’re raising future explorers while giving them, and yourselves, the education of a lifetime.