My first son was just 5 months young when we first traveled out of town as a family. Since my husband doesn’t share the same hometown as mine, it has been part of our yearly plans to go back to his hometown for at least three times a year. Located just off the southern part of Negros Island, Manjuyod can be traveled by land for approximately 5 hours only, including the 20-minute boat ride, from Cebu City.
As with my next child, he was barely 3 months young when we took him to Negros to see his paternal folks. Traveling with infants can prove a real challenge especially for first-time parents, more especially if the kids are “teething” and feeling under the weather.
Thank God, they’re big enough now that it’s easy to tag them along anywhere.
On that note, let me share with you the benefits we gain as we travel to different places with our boys.
Builds memories that strengthen the bond
I believe the most important reason why traveling with kids is important is the experience you share with them as a family. They may not remember every getaway as they grow, but the experience will sure remain in their hearts.
While I always make sure to head home right after work (before 6pm) so I can spend time with them after a long day at work, the hours spent on regular working days are far different from a short weekend break. At home, if my boys are not playing together, they’d be doing their own thing – most likely in front of the screens. But during vacations, we do activities together, we sleep together, even sharing the same bed. In turn, there are more cuddles, more kisses, more hugs and more stories shared as well as long hours of play time.
And because we don’t have tablets or iPads or any sort of handy gadgets to entertain the kids, except our smartphones, the kids are left with no choice but to enjoy whatever they see around.
PS: The kids’ paediatrician advised a few years back to not buy any kind of electronic gadgets. So at home, they only have our desktop computer.
Teaches them to be responsible
Now that my boys are strong enough to carry some of their own stuff, I give them the responsibility to carry whatever they can.
For instance, we had two light plastic bags on our last trip, one containing the chips and the other their beach toys. The older one chose to carry the toys while the younger one had the snacks.
Regardless of how young they are or how little their strength is, if us parents show kids they need to share their part when traveling, it would be easy for us to ask them favours when they grow. Not only will they become responsible travelers but they will also be helpful sons/daughters in the long course.
You see some parents would rather carry all the luggage or do all the queuing, inquiring or buying than burden their kids. There is absolutely nothing wrong asking your kids to do them for you. More often than not, when they reach the right age, they’ll be the ones offering themselves to carry out the tasks.
Helps them to be patient, kind and understanding
Yes, our pictures look fun, but not all of our holiday trips have gone smooth sailing. For instance, couple of years ago, there was a typhoon that hit the southern part of Cebu, destroying a bridge, so we were forced to travel by sea (which is uncommon and impractical since it takes longer and is more costly than traveling by land) at midnight with hundreds of passengers headed back to Cebu. Since it was a last minute decision and we only knew of the broken bridge through Facebook, we only got economic tickets.
Still, we are lucky.
However, as expected, it was super crowded.
Imagine the difficulty of carrying huge bags and suitcases (were out from a three-week vacation) with toddlers on the side, plus the rain and the line of people. Anyway, kids were kids and so they were not behaving really well. I thought they saw the situation as nothing serious. Then they would be asking “are we there yet?” or would be telling us “we want to look at the sea”, “we want to eat”, “we want to go home” and so on. And because kids are kids, we explained to them how difficult and dangerous the situation is in a manner they would understand.
I doubt if they still remember that night, but I know it has taught them as well as my husband and I the value of patience, kindness and understanding.
Difficult situations, strangers, and unexpected events have brought forth invaluable lessons to us and to the kids, more especially.
Teaches them to get along with different kinds of people
Meeting strangers is part of traveling. Whenever we travel, whether it’s a simple road trip or a planned out-of-town, we inevitably meet people from other towns, cities and countries. Sometimes they speak the same dialect, sometimes they are plain tourists from foreign countries, speaking entirely different languages.
All these experiences are great opportunities for the kids to learn how diverse the human race is.
They’re pretty much young now, barely recognising the differences, but still it’s an opportunity for them to know other culture, to learn to communicate with strangers using the English language or the dialect they are used to and to mingle with people they just met.
Introducing the value of traveling to their young minds will help them understand that there is a huge world outside their hometown.
I like it when my kids greet other tourists, restaurant staffs, and other people. Traveling, actually, has made my kids friendlier and more confident.
But, of course, we always remind them to never talk to strangers when they are alone.
Sure, bringing our boys along can mean extra work and extra expense, but the benefits are beyond any doubt priceless. As they grow older, life at home will be filled with school and work activities, making it harder to spend quality time together. And they’ll certainly have their own set of friends they would rather hang out with than their not-so-cool parents when that time comes. Nonetheless, I believe, a weekend getaway or a planned trip is always an excellent way to bond together as a family.
And it is such a pleasure for us, parents, to see the glow in the eyes of our boys every time we tell them we are going for a vacation.