Friday, October 7, 2011

"They won't remember anyway"

I often hear people ask “Why travel with a baby/toddler?  They won’t remember anyway.”

There are several reasons:

WE will remember

Sure, we need to make sure our son is entertained and enjoying himself, but we are there too, and we are paying the bill.  So we pick places we would choose to go anyway, and find ways to incorporate play time, meals and nap times into the local destination.  In Maui, it was a treat to visit the local playgrounds - B had a great time playing, while we enjoyed the beautiful view.  And while he napped in the back seat of the car, we explored the island and ate lots of shave ice!

Practice for us

Mark and I are experts at getting us, toddler and all the gear through security checks at the airport.  The more you do it, the easier it gets.  I am no longer filled with angst when I think about lugging a B through the airport along with carry-on bags, luggage, a travel crib, and a car seat!  And with all the things we need to pack for our son, we've learned how to pack lean and mean - which is extra important now that most of the airlines are charging for each checked bag.

Learning opportunities

I think of my own pre-baby travels and my time spent cycling in Europe and Asia.  My first cycling trip was to Denmark – a clean, safe, cycling paradise where cyclists have their own lanes, traffic lights and secure parking lots.  With each subsequent trip, I tried someplace a little less cyclist-friendly, culminating in 2005 and 2006 with 3,000 kms of cycling over 7 weeks through Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.  I would never have even contemplated a voyage like that had I not gained confidence in my previous trips.

Will B remember playing with other kids at a pre-school in Norway, making sand castles in Hawaii or gawking at an endangered frog in Panama?  Probably not.  But with each trip, he has become more comfortable putting his blankie through the x-ray machine at the airport, with long flights and changing accommodations.

Travel, like anything else, is a learning experience

Few of us will remember what we learned in grade one.  But those lessons laid the foundation for what we learned in subsequent grades and hopefully led us all to be reasonably intelligent adults.  My hope is by the time B becomes old enough to travel by himself, he feels no destination is beyond his limits.

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