March 06, 2017

How Having a Baby Improved My Travel Experience

Did you do a double-take when you read the title of this post?

Most people would assume that having children would diminish the travel experience, and if you read some of my tongue-in-cheek posts about flying with babies and how we survived a total of 19 hours on a plane with an 8 month old, you would think I'd be among that crowd.

I didn't say traveling with a baby is easier. But I do think it's better.

🌎 Little Eyes, Big World
Seeing the world through the eyes of a little one is amazing. My daughter can't contain her excitement over something as simple as a fallen leaf, let alone the wonder of a medieval stone wall! I have not traveled enough to feel inured or unmoved by man-made or natural wonders yet, but if I were to ever reach that point, taking a trip with a child could fix that problem in short order. I see the world anew when my daughter enjoys a new experience, and it's made my own travel experience richer.

🌎 Stop & Smell the Roses 
True story: kids will slow you down. Their little legs can't keep up; nap times are a necessity; attention and interest will wane when you're in the middle of enjoying a culture's finest attractions; and chicken nuggets will be demanded over the niceties of foie gras. You can bemoan that fact, or you can embrace it. Traveling with kids is a much slower affair than traveling as a couple (or solo), and some choose to forego traveling because of it, taking an all or nothing approach. However, I would much rather experience something than nothing! And a slower pace to accommodate the little ones simply means that I have more time to smell the roses along the way, savoring the culture and experience rather than rushing through it.

🌎 Crossing Language Barriers
Smiling is a universal language, and there is perhaps nothing more engaging or endearing than a little kid smiling at you! When Danny and I traveled as a couple, we didn't seek to overly engage ourselves with any residents of our destinations. We preferred to primarily observe and interact only with servers, hotel workers, or those employed at cultural attractions on an as-needed basis. We have probably missed out on a deeper understanding of these cultures and other travelers because of it, but with a kid, we have no choice. Our daughter loves to smile at everyone. And everyone loves to smile at her! While carrying her around the Regensburg Cathedral, I was mobbed by a group of Japanese ladies who began cooing and smiling and talking excitedly to us in Japanese with a few interspersed "cute baby!" phrases thrown in the mix. It was a small interaction, but so heart-warming to me. Traveling with a child, especially a baby, makes you very approachable and can open up a lot of doors to interacting with a culture in a way you wouldn't expect. Rather than walking by a playground, you may end up spending time there, experiencing in a small way what it would be like to actually live there and perhaps making friends with a local mom and kids that are probably more like you than not.

As with anything in life, traveling with kids is what you make of it. You can choose to focus on the downside, or you can choose to dwell on the enriching part. Broaden their world, enrich their minds, and choose to have fun in doing so!

Traveling with kids: would you do it? 

Other #TravelWithKids posts:

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