“Fill your life with experiences, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.”
I love this saying and it encapsulates why I travel with my children. As the youngest of six, I was lucky as I travelled with my mum to Pakistan for several months. Spending days helping on a farm, making new friends, experiencing a completely different way of life instilled a genuine passion for travel. But with the arrival of children, families are expected to change how they travel, trading in far-flung destinations for resort holidays closer to home.
We never changed our travelling habits and believe that family travel offers so much. You get to experience the world through the eyes of your children, they will show you the magic in every adventure and you will return with thousands of incredible memories!
So why should you travel with your children?
They see the magic
As we grow up, we forget how magical the world really is and our focus shifts onto the “big things”. When travelling with children in tow, the small things suddenly become the big things and you really learn to stop and really appreciate these. We visited Athens and whilst visiting the Parthenon was always on my list, my children fell in love with the big rocks opposite. We ended up spending several hours here, climbing, taking in the views of the whole of Athens at our feet and reading Greek myths whilst being in the shadow of the Parthenon which inspired so many of the tales. You cannot help but be in awe.
You have to slow down
With children in tow, things slow down but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. With slower travel, you get to take in the place, you will spend hours looking at local creations in markets, try lots of local treats, spend time rescuing caterpillars from paths around the most beautiful buildings in the world. By slowing down, you, in turn, get to take in the ‘real’ experience of a destination. You will meet locals, see daily life, stumble across local events and each place will be memorable for very different reasons.
You will meet people
Children are a magnet for people and are the best icebreaker you can have. On trips in Asia, Europe anywhere really, your children will be the centre of attention. Everyone will smile and interact and you will gain so much from having your children there. From our first trip to Morocco with our 1-year-old, we learnt so much about the country from the locals all because they stopped to talk to our daughter.
You will all become more adventurous
Travelling with children not only makes your children more adventurous, you will try things which you may not otherwise. Exposing children from a young age to adventurous activities will mean that this is part and parcel of travelling for them. We took our little adventurers on a 2-hour trek up to the top of the Malaysian rainforest and at 3,5 and 7 years old, they kept up with a group of adults and were leading the way! As parents, you actively encourage your children to try things and you lead by example so find yourself doing all sorts of activities which you would have said no to if you were on your own.
The best education
My wish is to make the world a classroom for my children and lots of the experiences you have whilst travelling you cannot gain from a textbook or the confines of a classroom. Travelling lets your children experience things first hand; they will learn about weather whilst dancing in the monsoon in Thailand, Maths whilst working out currency conversions and sitting under a sky which is glistening with thousands of stars, they can have the best astronomy lesson.
Makes them more adaptable and confident
During travels, your children will pick up so many life skills which will help them grow into well-rounded individuals. Your children will become more adaptable, often things don’t go to plan but you will find a different solution and still have a great time. When they are bored, they learn to entertain themselves and go and make new friends. Your experiences are what shape the adult you become and travelling offers a whole world of experiences to help your child develop.
Making them global citizens
The world is becoming more connected all the time and with the current political climate, the need to raise children who are real global citizens has never been more important. Travelling allows your children to experience first hand so many different cultures and understand that despite the differences in race, religion, nationalities everyone is human and are all the same.
Adventures with children in tow are incredible and though they are different from solo trips, they bring their own special type of magic to the experience of travelling. As a mother of three children, I always encourage families to embark on adventures; life really does begin at the end of your comfort zone. Having children should never become a barrier preventing you from travelling.
Words and images by the lovely Nisbah from Five Adventurers.
Want to take your own brood travelling? Check out Intrepid’s specially curated range of family-friendly tours, perfect for little adventurers.