And, why you should do it a lot.
2016 has been a hell of a year to travel for our family.
We have been to Orlando, Florida twice and will be there again at the end of the year. My husband and I have each been to San Francisco separately. We flew to Eugene, Oregon for a wedding last weekend. As a family, we have camped in Joshua Tree. Road-tripped to San Luis Obispo for another wedding. My husband took a camping trip in Yosemite with his best friend. I am flying to Indonesia in three weeks with my best friend. And these are just the big trips! This doesn’t include the off-roading in snowy San Bernardino or the trip to Catalina Island we are taking this weekend. We are only in August.
So. Much. Travel.
It’s exhausting (and expensive) but we love it. Especially with our 18 month old daughter, Sloane.
Is traveling with her easy? No. Do I enjoy her being the screaming child on the plane because she is confined to a seat and cannot run around? No. Do I bring little bags of goodies for everyone sitting around us? Absolutely not. Who has the time for that?
It’s hectic. When our daughter is kicking and screaming like a banshee, it is stressful. It is not ideal when we are running through SFO with a stroller, a car seat, a diaper bag and then our own personal bags. And yet, we still do it. Here are the five reasons why we believe you should travel with your small child or children:
- Life doesn’t stop after you have kids.
It’s like John Mellencamp famously sang: “Oh yeah life goes on, long after the thrill of livin’ is gone.” Except we don’t want to lose that thrill because we don’t have to. Did we plan on getting pregnant at 22 and 23 years old? No, we didn’t. But like everything else in life, we adapted and overcame. While having a child changed the way we accomplished our goals, it did not stop us from accomplishing them. I finished my degree. My husband started his while still being enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. I started another company. We had a beautiful wedding and attended many others. I still cook organic meals from scratch. We make time to exercise. We got out as a family, as a couple and sometimes, alone with our friends. Life changed after I had my daughter but it did not end.
- My husband and I want to travel.
We have always been travelers; from small weekend trips to flying across the World, we love the experiences. I have been flying cross-country since I was five because my parents were split up. Because of this, I always had a knack for traveling (it is a skill and no one can convince me otherwise; some of us have it and some of us don’t). The airport is my favorite place to be other than my couch. I also moved to a new state or city every year from the time I was four up until I was ten. While I was young, this was a very profound experience; having to learn how to make friends quickly and navigate a new place is a valuable skill. My husband was born and raised in the same city and only really traveled from Orlando to Puerto Rico to see his abuela; it wasn’t until he joined the USMC that he really got to sink his teeth into world travel. Together, we are the perfect combination of will and skill; so why would we put that aside for our daughter?
- Children are sponges.
From the time they are born until they are about three years old, a child’s brain grows to 4/5th of its final, adult size; that equates to it only expanding another 20% from three years old to adulthood. Doctors, educators, our own parents and in-laws constantly remind us as parents how important it is to read to, play outside with and teach our children while they are young, as they are constantly learning and soaking information. Oddly enough, the same parents that advocate for you to pull your toddler away from the television since they are “sponges” are also the ones who would not travel with their child as “they are not going to remember anyways”. No, they will not remember you taking them camping, but they will not remember you reading them a book either; that doesn’t make it any less important. I love the moments that Sloane has her little face glued to the airplane window, pointing out to the sky and intently proclaiming complete babble, because she is learning and experiencing.
- We grow as a couple.
Nothing against homebodies, but I believe that your relationship grows through experiences. Without traveling, we would be missing out on an entire aspect of our life together. BB (before baby), I flew across the World to meet my now husband, and missed my first flight. I laughed hysterically when we landed in San Juan, Puerto Rico and everyone clapped even though it had not been a rough flight. When I went to pick him up from the Orlando International Airport and was in the wrong terminal. When I finally found him, I was on the verge of tears and nearly tackled him. Our road trip up to Sequoia where we had to stop every hour because I had to pee. The memories are endless. PB (post-baby), Sloane’s diaper leaked during take-off and my husband sat with pee and poop on his pants for the five and half hour flight. On a flight with her by myself, I took my glasses of to go to sleep and lost them; this resulted in me spending four hours of the flight blind because I didn’t want to wake up Sloane as I tried to look for them. These sound horrible, and some of them were at the time, but we grew from them. My husband and I can navigate through tense situations almost seamlessly because almost nothing could be worse than getting booked out of two different airports, getting there too late to check your bag and having to carry a baby, a diaper bag, your purse, the car seat and your suitcase through security and to the gate, with no baby carrier.
- We create memories.
My daughter may not remember these adventures, but my husband and I will, and those are family memories. Like the first time we took her to Florida and we stayed at the beach; it rained (which we don’t experience a lot in Southern California) and we stood just enough under the awning so she could feel the water drizzle. The first time we took her into the ocean and we took her diaper off so she could splash around. In Joshua Tree National Park, we went on a six mile hike with her in the baby carrier, at which she was kicking her legs in excitement the entire time. In Hendricks Park, Oregon, she ran around barefoot in the Douglas fir dense forest and squealed as my husband swung with her at the park there. Every time my husband and I have hysterically laughed after she has gone from being a complete terror, to being asleep on our laps or have danced around a new city with her in our arms, it has been completely worth it.
The stressed out, traveling parent in me, sees and respects, the stressed out, traveling parent in you. Namaste.
Meaghan at FL&P