By experiences not stuff
People always used to ask us, when our gingers Rainer & Atticus were tiny tots, “Why travel with your kids if they won’t even remember it?”
We have always believed that even when the RAM of our brain cannot recall our nascent
experiences on planet Earth, our HARD DRIVE does. And so our kids simply never had a choice when it came to travel. By the time they were 4 and 6, respectively, they had already been to Spain, Mexico and a dozen states across the USA.
As Americans, one of the only things my wife and I feel unabashedly patriotic about is our National Park System (we have been to more than 200 of the 400+ units spread across
the nation). Before our boys were old enough to remember, they had stood at the base of the Lincoln Memorial, climbed Bubble Rock in Acadia, splashed in waves at
Fire Island National Seashore, and hiked through Joshua Tree National Park.
Today, when we ask Atticus, now 11, and Rainer, 13, if they recall some of those early trips and destinations, they often do not. Their brains remember, though, as neuro-pathways are etched by early experiences to form the people we become as fully conscious children and adults. Despite not recalling our early adventures, both boys became fully accustomed to travel and all that goes with it.
So many parents have complained to us that, by the time THEY are ready to travel with their children (because now they will “remember it” and the money won’t be
“wasted”) their KIDS aren’t ready for travel. They whine in the car, on the plane, and absolutely do not appreciate the process of being pushed out of their comfort zone. We say: all the more reason not to wait.
Analogy time: We read board books to both of our boys from the moment they could open their eyes. Could they read along? Do they remember those books? No. Did reading to and with them every day carve pathways of
literacy and connection into their brains? Yes. Is it a coincidence both boys were reading independently by the time they were three? We don’t think so.
These days, when we tell our boys we are going to Egypt in a few months, they raise their hands in triumph, then go on with whatever it was they were doing. When
our departure date rolls around, they know how to pack, what to bring, what to expect, how to manage wait times and unforeseen obstacles, and how to appreciate the small things and unique moments experienced along the way.
All that time we put in, traveling with them as infants and toddlers, pays off every time we step
out the door with these tall redheads who now have questions and interests of their own. The more they communicate about their travel likes and dislikes, too, the more we tailor our adventures to their needs.
Our advice? DO NOT WAIT!!! Take that trip whether your children will retain conscious memories or not. Travel whether you think the money will be “worth it” or not. We promise: it will be. You will all reap the rewards, both in the moment and far beyond.