With hundreds of families hitting the road each year, many with kids under 5 years old, we asked our mates from Wander to Wonder Oz what they thought about travelling with young kids… Real Stories | Real Families…
Ten Reasons to Travel while the kids are Young…
I’ll start by saying that I strongly believe that there is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ time to travel with children. Each stage has its pros and cons, and no time spent as a family is ever time wasted. However when we decided to travel with our young ones (4 and 6 years) the common criticism was ‘Why do it now? They’re too young to remember ’. I always replied that the trip wasn’t solely for our children; it was for us as a collective and what makes us happiest is spending time together. This was often greeted with remarks of ‘that’s a nice sentiment, but you’ll find it really hard’. So for any of you in the same position or considering travelling with a young tribe, here’s 10 rock solid come backs as to why the best time is NOW!!
Young children are extremely resilient and adaptable! We’ve found that as long as a few daily elements such as meal times and bedtime routines are kept, that it doesn’t matter where they are. They’ll happily go with the flow, excited about the next adventure and playground. Travelling is also the perfect classroom for teaching resilience, of putting children in unfamiliar or tough situations (such as moving frequently, making and losing friends or taking on physical challenges like hikes) and expanding their ability to cope and bounce back with a sense of confidence. These skills and habits will be invaluable in helping them deal with challenges later in life, during adolescence and adulthood.
- Schooling is Simpler
Many parents find the prospect of homeschooling daunting, and not just because it means dealing with our own defiant offspring! For lots of us, it’s been a significant amount of time since we were ourselves in school and therefore may be a bit rusty on the old long division. Hence it stands to reason, the lower your kids grades at school the easier the workload is for Mum and Dad! And if you’re children aren’t yet school aged then life is even easier. More unrestricted time with your little ones means you can engage more in play based learning which is critical for their development and trust me there are plenty of opportunities for play while on the road.
- Sweet Sleep
Sleeping arrangements are definitely easier the younger the child. Size wise you can easily fit two or three little ones in a double bed and there is plenty of room for them in a caravan bunk or camp stretcher which can be otherwise quite narrow and short. Try getting two teens of different gender to share a double bed!! You can also maximise space in the caravan/camper by converting a couch to a small bed or squeezing in a portacot. If you still have a ‘day napper’ on your hands that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re restricted either. Plan your car trips around naps to enjoy a ride in peace or go out exploring with a stroller or baby carrier. We all know how much babes love being rocked to sleep!
- Free Time
Although young children can be exhausting throughout the day, the silver lining of this is that most of them are all tuckered out by 7ish. Which means you get the evening to yourself, free from the never ending requests, bickering and space invading! You can even sit outside the caravan and have a nice interruption free drink with your neighbours. Ahhh bliss! Remember, the older the child the later the bedtime!
- Cost Efficient
Little kids come with little price tags! Not only can they often get free or discounted admissions at places but they also attract little to no accommodation fees. Plus, their smaller appetites mean less food. So that’s a smaller grocery bill and lower costs when you dine out as the little ones can share a meal or grab a cheap kids meals.
- Developmental Dream
While every year is important in a child’s development, it is the first five years in which their brain develops faster than at any other time in their life. Your child’s experiences – their relationships, the things they see, hear, touch, smell and taste – create millions of connections that lay the foundations for learning, health and behaviour for throughout their life. So in short – kids are sponges! They are free of biases, prejudices and pre-conceived ideas, so what a brilliant time to expose them to nature, cultures, industries, history and wildlife! The list of learning opportunities while travelling is endless.
- Easy Pleasers
Despite the odd tantrum over seemingly nothing, little kids are generally pretty easy to please! Children see magic in everything, therefore their day can made with a visit to the most basic of parks, by finding a ‘special’ rock or being treated to a lemonade icy-pole. Unfortunately as they grow so do their needs, wants and expectations, so we say capitalize on this window!
Before leaving one of our biggest concerns was taking the children away from their peers and hindering their social development. Well we needn’t have bothered as the kids have blossomed in this aspect. Young kids are generally free from the social anxieties and self-consciousness that plagues tweens and teens. Friendships are formed with ease and goodbyes are readily accepted. Young children are usually pretty inclusive with a ‘more the merrier’ attitude and by simply asking ‘can I play’ or ‘what’s your name?’ the friendship is concreted. But what if kids don’t like one another? They simply shake it off and move onto their next friend without hurt feelings or dints to the ego. Ahh to be young again. We’ve found our children aren’t always chasing a specific demographic either and enjoy looking after little ones as much as enjoy being the little ones. This means a much wider audience of friends to choose from and helps them develop their broader social skills.
- Sibling Love
As one of five children, I absolutely understand the complexities of sibling love and rivalry! And coming from an all girl family… I also understand the importance of having space from one another once you hit the dreaded teen years! So having children that still get along (well most of the time) and are happy to play together means that they always have a play mate and you might be sparred some of the teen drama. Not to mention that siblings play very important positive roles in each other’s lives and sharing significant experiences (such as holidays) creates a connection that will strengthen their bond for years to come.
The best part of travelling with a young family is the endless supply of cuddles and hand holding and playing that comes with having little ones. It’s the moments of peaceful bliss as you spend a lazy morning piled into a bed together, or the squeals of delight as you chase them wildly across a beach. To be able to hit the pause button on life and truly soak up these moments is priceless, and we will treasure them for years to come.
Happy Travels, Tegan & Leigh
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