Raising Travelers

I love this recent post by Derek Sivers about how travel is best with young children and couldn’t agree more with all of the points he made but I feel one very important one was left out:

When you travel with young children they learn how to be good travelers. This makes all future travel with them so much better. Very little whining and crying. Next to no “Are we there yet?” They grow up with it as something normal that you do and that there are certain and appropriate ways of being and expectations in those spaces.

When my wife Bethany and I were first discussing having children, I was a full time Dad to two teens. I was not able to afford to travel with them as they were growing up. I love to travel myself and grew up doing plenty. I was looking forward to their soon becoming adults, being out of the house, and my wife and I having the “freedom” to travel. I didn’t want more kids.

But, my wife had no children of her own and wanted to give it a shot. So, the agreement we made was that if we had a baby it would not stop us from doing all we had planned to do. Travel, expensive restaurants, amazing experiences — the kid would come along for the ride.

We first traveled with Beatrix when she was three months old. My wife had a conference in Denver that she needed to attend for work. She was the food source and so Beatrix and I had to go too. While Bethany was at the conference all day, and Beatrix would only take Mom’s milk from a bottle, I had a wonderful time exploring the town with Beatrix. We spent a whole day at the wonderful Denver Art Museum. I’m convinced that cemented in her the love of art museums she has today, 14 years later.

We took her to Norway at 6 months old. Mexico at 9 months. In her 14 years she’s been all over the United States and the World. Dozens of cities and towns. She’s had tea at Kensington Gardens and blown bubbles from the top of the Eiffel Tower. She’s rafted down the rivers of Costa Rica to El Salvador and floated in hidden hot springs in Iceland.

But, most importantly, she’s learned that getting to do these amazing things sometimes takes time. She knows that new production on London’s West End involves a 8 hour plane trip. She knows that New Orleans is a two day car ride and an overnight stay at some random hotel outside of Saint Louis away. She knows that we may leave some extra time in between to see the ducks in the fountain of The Peabody in Memphis on the way there or stop at our favorite book store on the way back.

She knows that amazing experiences are worth the journey. That travel involves, well, travel. Beatrix is an AMAZING traveller because she has spent her life traveling.

So, for this reason alone, if you have the means to do so at all, you should.