Children and Travel: Five Questions.

Do these ever mix? Five questions to ask yourself.

Unsigned Street Art. Paris, France. January 2016.

For me, I’d go with it depends on what you are going for.

My niece is currently three and a half months old and will be boarding her first plane to another continent when she is about 5 months old. This has raised some travel questions for me. To clear things up, my sister and her husband are young – 23 and 25 – and the boy in that relationship has only been outside of the country once while on a cruise to Mexico – though they never left the boat so I don’t know if this counts as going anywhere…

Now that they are young parents who are looking to have more kids and relatively quickly, my mom has decided this is their chance to really go and travel – at least for a while. Each of my sisters and I got to travel for graduation, basically wherever we wanted as long as we stuck to a given budget. For the new mom of my siblings, this trip to London, Paris, and Amsterdam counts with the added benefit of her husband, her baby, and mom who serves as both the meal-ticket and babysitter when needed.

My mother is a fantastic travel planner (she has a ton of experience doing it, even if most of her trips move a little more quickly and feel much more jam-packed than I’d prefer), so she has everything squared away, especially taking into consideration the limitations of bringing along an infant.

So, pros and cons? Well, there are many of both so here are a few questions to consider:

Will the kid remember? This depends both on age and on what you do – not to mention how much you are doing. My niece will never remember any part of the trip; she is simply too young. However, I’ve been on multiple family road trips between the ages of 7 and 13 and I can’t tell you everywhere we went, which historical landmarks we saw or even which trip was which. I have some clear memories, but overall it isn’t until now that the appeal of the sights we visited mean anything to me.

But then, does them (the child(ren)) remembering matter? Again, this depends on the trip. For my sister and her husband (and in a large part, my mother), the trip is for them. Getting pictures of her in these cities (I mean seriously, Disneyland Paris!) is a huge part of the appeal of bringing the baby – my dad who is a photographer is joining them for a final few days in Amsterdam and is so excited!- but that’s really it for her. For this question, I think it’s a matter of managing your expectations. My parents were disappointed in the lack of enthusiasm and attention we paid on our road trips growing up, but the grueling pace should have clued them in to some of the issues of four young to teenage girls.

But then why spend the money? This is where I think it’s really important to judge whether or not to take kids traveling. Since my niece will only be 5 months old and still singularly breastfeeding, there really isn’t much expense to her traveling minus the extra baggage and laundry – babies go through a lot of clothes. However, if the child in question is old enough that a lot of money (for your budget) is required AND they won’t remember it, that’s a relatively large con to consider. If, however, they will remember this trip and you think they’ll be able to appreciate it later, it’s still really worth considering, especially if you won’t be able to do it again. Which leads us to…

Will you be missing out on an experience that’s worth more than the expense (for both you and the little one(s)) that you won’t have the chance at again? Again, this is where my sister and her husband fall. They may not get to do everything that they’ve ever wanted to do while in these places – I’m not sure the Moulin Rouge is in their future – but the chances they’ll be able to take a trip like this later is slim unless something huge changes for them financially. Putting off the trip, therefore, becomes a ‘now or never’ kind of deal. This is the point that you’ll have to debate alongside the finance issues; they are basically counterpoints on your pro and con list.

My final question is the one that – for some travelers – will get me into trouble but long talks with my sister has settled, at least in my mind.

Will bringing along the child(ren) you are planning to bring with you unsettle others around you? The honest answer is yes, it most certainly will. My niece is the quietest baby I have ever been around – she is church trained and while this won’t perfectly translate to a long flight, it’s quiet a feat. Still, I know that many passengers will begin to sigh and moan the second my family arrives at the boarding gate. But here’s what my sister asks whenever we discuss issues of children in public: should you care? Sure, a little – apologize if she/he cries through the trip, discipline them for running around or kicking chairs, but if you let this question be the one that stops you from going on a trip, that’s just stupid. There are kids everywhere so if someone is truly bothered by yours (as long as you try your best to keep them under control!) then that’s on them.

If you really want – I know some people do – you can build some friendly ‘just in case the worst should happen’ kits with earplugs and other apologetic goodies, but you should never feel compelled to. Also, be careful what you put in these taking into account allergies and other special considerations. I repeat: you should never feel compelled to make these.

On your side of these conflicts, remember not to take any shade or snark thrown out by others personally. Just enjoy you and your little one(s) out having adventures together. If they won’t remember, you can write a journal, take pictures, build a scrap/memory book for them to look at as they grow up. Who know, they may make it back to where you took them someday and get to relive the experiences they grew up hearing about.

So that’s my questions to consider no matter how old your little one is, so go on and make your pro and con lists, and good luck and safe travels.

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

Children and Travel: Five Questions.

2 thoughts on “Children and Travel: Five Questions.

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