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Reasons Traveling with Kids is Cool

If I had a dollar for every time someone told me I was crazy to take my toddler to Italy by myself I would have never come back.  “You are wasting your money; she will never remember anything.  She will be a mess on that long flight.  How will you pack everything by yourself?  She won’t stand going to museums or sitting through long dinners.”  Jet lag, potty issues, getting sick, being bored.  I heard it all.

But one month after my daughter’s second birthday I defiantly boarded a flight to Rome armed with a backpack of her necessities, one suitcase for both of us, a stroller and Benadryl.  I could see that look in the other passengers’ faces.

You know the one, just before they quickly darted their eyes away hoping to avoid direct contact.

The dread and fear of having to sit next to a kid on a long flight.  Then the absolute elation as we walked by.  I could actually hear the sighs of relief.  I don’t blame them for hoping we were nowhere near their seat; thirteen hours with a small child in an even smaller space could be considered a version of hell on earth.  Yet, she fooled them all.  To the shock and relief of those around me she was an angel on the plane.  After devouring her ‘fancy’ meal, she watched a movie and then proceeded to pass out.  I can’t say the same for many of the other passengers.

Once in Italy, I quickly found out that traveling with my daughter did two things:  opened doors to experiences and got us free stuff.  People who would have done nothing more than complete their transaction with me or more likely not even noticed my presence were suddenly whisking us behind counters and showing us part of the real Italian life I had not seen before.  We met dogs; we met grandkids.  We watered plants and learned to make pizza.  We held rabbits and petted goats.

I haven’t even gotten to the free stuff.

My daughter learned a simple smile meant extra scoops of gelato or little candies in her hand.  I don’t think I went anywhere with her that some old lady wasn’t trying to feed her or put sweets in her pockets.  She was the star at dinner, our waiters taking pride in her appetite.  She had no need for a menu, they would prepare whatever she desired without hesitation.  I was once chided for not ordering her enough food and found extra plates appearing on the table free of charge.  Did I ever pay for dessert?  Maybe my own.

She loved the Roman Forum, although it was the beetles not the ruins that caught her eye.  Every new hill town was exciting; who knew how many kitties would be hiding in the narrow cobblestone streets.  Trains were a marvel.  Maps became new toys.  Piazzas her playgrounds.  My passion for travel deepened with each new discovery she made.

Maybe I was crazy and it is true that she doesn’t remember that trip, but my daughter has no fear of the unknown and loves new experiences.  I have since taken her back to Italy (see the photos below) and she now has her own travel bucket list.  The lesson to be taken here is that having a family does not mean your travel dreams are over.  They are just different.  I may not be able to travel as much as I did before, but I never use children as my excuse to stay home.  Travel is good for them.  They begin to understand the world is a bigger place and differences are to be celebrated.  Travel is good for you.  You will find indescribable joy watching your child experience another culture.

I could list the top reasons why traveling with kids is cool, but I think these pictures do a better job.

Joining up again with the fabulous writers at yeah write. Click the button below to read some truly wonderful writers and don’t forget to return on Thursday to vote for your five favorite posts.

Copyright 2012  Andi Brown  Once in a Lifetime Travel

58 Comments Post a comment
  1. It’s so true that having a child along for your travels opens your eyes to new experiences. Your daughter certainly looks like she’s soaking it all up!

    March 13, 2012
  2. This is so great! It’s inspiring. I like how travel has made her fearless and open, how it has shaped her. These photos are evidence of it. Look at her sparkle and joy!

    March 13, 2012
    • I know, I never get tired of looking at those photos. I must apologize to her future husband though, I have created a travel monster!!

      March 13, 2012
  3. Priceless photos Andi. I didn’t take my daughters over to Europe until they were teenagers, and I got a lot of comments like “What country are we in toDAY?!?” delivered in that surly teenaged whine. However, we started the grandkids early, and they are well seasoned travellers. Hoping to drag them over to Italy one of these years!

    March 13, 2012
    • We had a boat when I was a teenager and motored all around the Puget Sound visiting islands etc. The whole time I was soooo bored and pissy that I wasn’t with my friends. Is it too late to take it all back??? Sorry mom and dad!

      March 13, 2012
  4. Oh but if I could have I would have. My mom took us a lot of places growing up and I always wished I could do the same for my son.

    March 13, 2012
    • Travel doesn’t have to be exotic or cross any oceans to be an experience though. My little guy hasn’t seen much past Idaho and still gets a thrill out of our little town’s ‘aquarium’ (aka PetSmart)

      March 13, 2012
  5. Wow – we never travel, and one of the reasons is because we believe it would be too hard with our kids. But you’re giving me more confidence. I’m travelling by plane to Philadelphia with my baby (he’ll be 18 months old at the time) by myself in a couple months, and this post is making me feel like it’ll be okay :)

    March 13, 2012
    • You will be more than ok, and if it gets bad on the plane your mantra is….this won’t last forever

      March 13, 2012
  6. My mom took me to visit her family in England when I was about 2 years old. My dad had to work so she took me by herself. We spent a month there and she maintains that it was the best vacation she’s ever taken. I think that’s because I was too young to bug her to buy me stuff. Ha! I want to go to Italy one day, I hear it’s gorgeous.

    March 13, 2012
  7. Holy smokes, what a wonderful adventure for your daughter. Plus, the fact that you were able to enjoy the adventure with her! A complete and utter win-win if you ask me, which you didn’t. (smile) This was fantastic! Good for you!

    March 13, 2012
  8. You are so right! It’s great for kids to see there is a whole world out there. The main thing that gets in the way of travel like this is all the stuff we think we need. If people travelled more, they would see they don’t (and never did) need most of it.

    March 13, 2012
  9. So great! I am actually in the process of deciding whether or not to bring my soon-to-be 2 year old along on a trip to Croatia. I’m spending too much time worrying about the flight, the tantrums, the lack of sleep/naps, the lack of car seats…thanks for opening my eyes.

    March 13, 2012
    • Just jump. It won’t be perfect but it will be good for the both of you. And might I suggest benadryl for the flight

      March 13, 2012
  10. Absolutely! We live in Japan right now, but we moved to Italy right after my oldest daughter turned two (my younger daughter was born there) and it was amazing how much having kids around opened us up to new experiences. And free stuff. (Oh! The free stuff!) People seem more friendly when you’re with kids, more willing to approach you, and it’s wonderful.

    Great post!

    March 13, 2012
  11. and you know what? even if she doesn’t remember? She won’t remember a time in her life that the whole world wasn’t at her feet, for her tasting, for her to discover. And that, my friend is all kinds of awesome!

    March 13, 2012
  12. How wonderful and inspiring! We are taking our three kids to New York City in a couple of weeks and you’ve really changed my attitude (fear & dread) about the trip. It’s my favorite city in the world and now I’m prepared to experience it through their eyes. Your photos are simply wonderful.

    March 13, 2012
    • I always was prepared for the worst and ready for anything. That made the good fantastic and the bad…well tolerable. It will be so much fun. I let her plan a whole day on the trip. She loved it, she had the map and found places for us to explore and eat. You will have a blast, I want to hear details!!

      March 13, 2012
  13. Ado #

    Oh, bravo for just getting on a plane and taking her to Italy! Bravo! So many Americans (I’m assuming you are American, apologies if you’re not…!) don’t even have a passport let alone *dare* take their tots or babies out of the country – when in fact it can be the best time ever to just get up and go! I am like you and we adore traveling to far-flung place, the further the better – when Fi was 3 mos. old (3 mos after 9/11) we actually took her to Oman and Dubai. Just like with you, the kindness of people because we had a baby was astounding. Shocking. Babies and kids are so open to the world, they in turn open us to the world through their eyes…good for you for going!

    March 13, 2012
    • I can’t wait to take the little ones next. It is true around the world, children bring out the best in people. We are American and she had a passport before her grandpa :)

      March 13, 2012
  14. Your writing and your pictures are so expressive. I always feel like I am transported. Now excuse me while I break out the passports and start searching Travel Zoo. I find places ARE so much more fun with my kids, be it Petsmart or the Empire State Building. Ellen

    March 13, 2012
  15. Great pictures!! Can I borrow a kid for that purpose?!

    March 13, 2012
  16. Good for you, taking her on such a fabulous trip! Children really can adapt easily and much has to do with how they are raised.

    March 13, 2012
  17. What a beautiful adventure, how lucky you two are to have one another })i({

    March 13, 2012
  18. I believe you, but I don’t want to do it. Fortunately my son is 38 so I don’t have to.

    March 13, 2012
  19. Great pictures! They really do tell your story. We moved to Kenya when our son was just under 2. ANd I have to say having him here has really opened up a lot doors and inisights that would have been closed to us. People interact with little ones in a way they might not at all with their parents and it opens up the possibility of all kinds of relationships. She’s lucky to have a mom like you with an adventurous spirit!

    March 14, 2012
  20. We’ve traveled with our kids since they were born, though not out of the country. I think they are just used to it. I hear people say their kids “won’t ride in cars.” Mine are like, “when are we leaving?” It’s all about attitude. How lucky yours are! You are giving beautiful experiences and raising great kids!

    March 14, 2012
    • Thank you! Although I will admit my boy is a tiny bit more…active….and harder to convince to sit still

      March 14, 2012
  21. Bravo! We lived in Europe before having our son and both my husband and I would love to go back, but I’m often intimidated by the thought of a two hour flight with him, much less a whole day! Thanks for the inspiration and reminder of how worth it travelling is!

    March 14, 2012
    • It is still my dream and goal to actually live over there for awhile. What an experience that must have been

      March 14, 2012
  22. That’s it. I’m planning a trip to take my kids to Italy NOW! My favorite photo is the one of your daughter in front of the brick oven.

    March 14, 2012
  23. origamibirds #

    I think this is amazing. What a great education and childhood you’re giving her! Well done, and how awesome of you to look at the positive side of traveling with kids when so many others would only look at the negative side.

    Great post and GREAT pictures. Makes me want to travel!!

    March 14, 2012
    • There are always negative things that happen when traveling. I figure I expect it and prepare for it, then laugh it off and go get gelato

      March 15, 2012
  24. We haven’t taken our kids to far-flung locales (except California) yet because every vacation is about family and grandparents – we don’t live close-by. So many of my friends have taken their children out of the country, and I can’t wait to go! Top of my list: Germany, Spain, and Costa Rica. I’m excited just thinking about it!

    March 14, 2012
    • So many options! Costa Rica would be awesome, I was there when I 16 and I blame it for creating my travel ‘habit’

      March 15, 2012
  25. What an amazing trip and your daughter WILL remember those special moments with her Mama….and if she forgets, you have a plethora of fantastic pictures to jog her memory.

    March 15, 2012
    • That’s right! Especially in about ten years when I’m boring and embarassing and never do anything cool for her…I will have the proof!

      March 15, 2012
  26. oh i really liked this post! and the pictures? priceless! while we haven’t traveled anwhere more than a couple hours away, i’m absolutely in agreement with you on not using a child as an excuse to stop doing things. if anything, they are a fantastic reason to do things over and over again- see things thru their eyes and it’s like seeing things brand new for the first time!

    March 15, 2012
    • I couldn’t agree with you more. And it’s not how far away you take them, just that you do it.

      March 15, 2012
  27. Loved this post. I have traveled with my niece, now 10, since she was able to walk. Sometimes with her parents, sometimes without. We went to Europe twice, Costa Rica, Guatemala and a few US states. I hope to continue for as long as she wants to go with me. For kids to witness other cultures, is an eye opening experience…even if they don’t remember the details as they grow. Terrific post.

    March 15, 2012
    • She is going to become a better person because of all of that, well done! And if she desides someday she doen’t want to go with you I will!

      March 15, 2012
  28. You can’t argue with the look on her face. Kudos for taking her and having a great time.

    March 15, 2012
  29. Paula #

    Did we meeting in Vernazza on this trip, when Erin was 2? I thought you were so brave and you have inspired me to take my little one abroad :)
    Say hi to your folks for me and mention to your Dad I’m still working at Toromont CAT!!

    March 16, 2012
    • You are still his favorite person because of that! I will totally tell them. And yes, that’s the trip!

      March 16, 2012

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