When discussing family travel and taking your kids overseas, I constantly hear parents say: “It’s a waste of money to take my kids somewhere they won’t even remember.”
By that logic, you also shouldn’t take your kid to see Disney on Ice, or to a sporting event, or to the movies. Birthday parties are probably a waste of time and money, too. Why celebrate their birthday at all? They won’t remember it.
Making memories is a big part of traveling, no doubt. But when we become parents, our children become a part of our memories, too. Whether or not your kids will remember a trip should have no bearing on whether you take them along. There are a ton of reasons why you should take your kids traveling if you can afford it and they’re able to go. But the most important reason of all to take them along? Because you want them there.
Look, if you don’t want to take your kid on a trip with you, or if you can’t afford to get them a ticket, then just don’t take them. I certainly won’t judge (and ignore those who do). I don’t think parents have to travel with their kids – in fact, parents should absolutely travel without their kids sometimes. There’s nothing wrong with that.
You can hop on a flight with your baby when they’re as young as two days old on some airlines. Other airlines require your baby to be at least two weeks. Either way – the younger they are, the cheaper they are to take on a trip. You don’t have to worry about paying for activities to keep a baby entertained. Put them in a carrier and go hiking, or sit with them for hours at a cafe. Babies don’t ask for much.
Toddlers are more work because they’re on the move and they’re curious. But you know who loves toddlers? The entire world. Don’t worry too much about not being able to keep track of your toddler overseas. Wherever you go, there will be locals who will step in and help out – whether you want them to or not.
Travel gets easy again when your child is old enough to carry their own luggage. There are no more strollers, car seats or diaper bags to cart around. Strap a backpack on your older kid or give them their own rolling luggage and off you go.
Traveling with a kid is definitely a different kind of travel. You might not be able to spend hours lingering at museums or eating at upscale restaurants. You might find yourself unable to fully enjoy the beauty of the Alps because your kid won’t stop whining about not being able to get online. And maybe you can’t go ziplining or hit up the nightclubs like you usually do when you travel. But that’s temporary. You’ll be able to do those things again soon enough.
Is it a waste of money to take your kid on a trip? Absolutely not.
Sure, you can’t expect a five year-old to be awed by the Tower of London – but you aren’t taking your kid on a trip so they’ll be awed by anything. You’re not necessarily taking your kid on a trip so they can build memories, either. You should absolutely travel without your children sometimes, but at other times, when you can swing it, take your kids along simply because you want them there.