5 Reasons Why Travelling With A Baby / Toddler Is A Great Idea
For a seasoned adventurer who suddenly finds themselves with a miniature travel companion, the prospect of going anywhere can suddenly seem like a questionable one.
“It now takes me 2 hours to get out the door to go to the shops! How can I possibly go away anywhere?!”
Breath. Relax. Your life of wunderlust is not over. It’s only just beginning. Here’s why:
1. Travel is an amazing opportunity to bond
In our house we have the children’s book ‘The Tiger Who Came To Tea’, which tells the story of how a family’s afternoon is interrupted by the unexpected animal. The characters play the kind of cookie-cutter roles many of us were taught in our childhood. ‘Mummy’ is at home caring for the daughter, and in charge of shopping and preparing food. ‘Daddy’ returns home from work expecting supper on the table.
That was 1968, and 50 years later most people’s lives are somewhat different, with one or two parents juggling multiple jobs across unsociable hours. Between nursery pick-ups, commuting to and from the office, and working late to keep up with your childless colleagues, the squeeze on quality time is as great as ever.
Therefore, ‘getting away’ also means ‘coming together’. Spending time doing things together outside of the regular routine provides a whole new range of opportunities to play and learn together. The wonderfully titled academic publication ‘The Journal of Leisure Research’ published a study in 2009 which found “shared activities by family members can create a unique experience that leads to an increase in bonding, connectedness and attachment”.
Which makes sense, right? Think about favourite childhood memories – it’s likely at least one of these will be related to a holiday experience.
2. It’s a learning experience (for everyone)
An example of ‘family travel scepticism’ often run along these lines:
“What’s the point of spending all that money going abroad with a baby?! They’re not going to remember any of it”
If we apply this thinking through to its logical conclusion, then we would have to say that there is no point in doing anything with a baby that they won’t remember – singing to them, cuddling them, making silly faces at them.
Are they too young to remember? Yes, of course they are. However…
- Are they too young to enjoy hearing new sounds?
- Are they too young to be stimulated by seeing new sights?
- Are they too young to taste new food and smell new smells?
Of course not. Travel provides a wonderful sensory experience, which any child will soak up and learn from.
And not only that – you will learn too. You might be a hardened traveller who has seen it all. Trekked across the Himalayas. Sailed round the world in a bucket. Unicycled across Antarctica. But travelling with children will give you a whole new perspective on old (and new) destinations.
(NB We’re not endorsing the use of buckets as safe vessels for babies. And check you’ve got the right kind of child seat for that unicycling adventure)
3. It stimulates social development
Some more science for you, this time from the Annals of Tourism Research:
“[Travel activities can] can lead to children learning to share and get along better with others, and create loyalty within the family and build positive communications”
It’s perhaps intuitive, but the research backs it up – when we travel, we do things which help us get along with other people. Playing with other kids on a beach. Trying to communicate with a waiter in a foreign country. These are great building blocks for a social, confident child.
4. It’s not as dangerous as you think
Here’s sentence number two on the bingo board of Family Travel Scepticism:
“People who travel with toddlers are just selfish. Kids need stability when they’re young, not be dragged to places where they’re health is being put at risk”
This one does hit home, especially when you’re crushing up the prescribed half tablet of anti-malarial and hiding it in the first bite of your child’s cereal each morning. Should we really be doing this?
This is where a little bit of forward planning comes into play. Gone are the days when you used to whizz through security with carry-on baggage only, taking a last minute flight to some far-flung destination. So yes, you need to manage risks like a proper adult now, but just like you discovered when you were travelling on your own – the world is not as dangerous as your well meaning friend thinks it is.
Do your research. Make contingency plans. Go for it.
5. In many ways, travelling with a baby / toddler is easier (and cheaper)
Travelling with a newborn can actually be the easiest time to travel with your child. They’re portable. They can’t move by themselves. They often don’t require their own ticket.
Yes, they require a bit more planning (as anyone who has gone through airport security with a pram / bottles of milk / baby food can attest to), but once they hit two years old, they need their own ticket. And before you know it, they’ll be a teenager demanding their own room, and an itinerary that involves ‘no boring old buildings’.
So there you have it. Go forth and explore with your mini-me!
What are the reasons you go travelling with your baby / toddler?