Travels with kids and Jack the toy bear

I quite often talk about the joys (and challenges) of travelling with kids, mostly because I’m so strongly convinced that travel is a wonderful learning experience for children, in so many different ways.

Travelling with kids for memories and landmarks in time

But there’s another reason that taking your kids on fantastic trips is a good move: it’s a really concrete way to chart their growth over the years, and to have landmarks in time to peg their development too.  I can remember, for example, that in 2013, my then three-year-old son could do a fair bit of walking if need be but that I used a stroller to zoom him around on most of a trip to Austria and Slovakia because he didn’t quite have the stamina to keep up with our plans; I know that two years later, in Iceland, he not only could practically out-walk me, but that he could survive without being too ratty if he didn’t get to bed until the same time as me. I always know when he started losing his teeth because the cheesy grin from his photos in Legoland Malaysia show the huge gap on the top!

Travelling with kids - passport photos with toy bear Jack

Passport photos with Jack the bear in 2015

Recently we were talking about his beloved toy bear, Jack, mostly because my son is seven-and-a-half now and I can see him become less and less attached to Jack. On our most recent trip abroad to Singapore and Malaysia, I was the one who was more paranoid about Jack’s safety – suddenly he seemed more precious than ever, having travelled with us for so many years, and I attached a note to him giving instructions for anyone who would find him if we misplaced him.

In honour of this passing phase in time, I wanted to record some of Jack’s travelling highlights, in case the future ones are fewer and further between.

Jack the bear gets on the packing list

This beautiful memory is from a trip to Tasmania early last year. My son was five-and-a-half so just getting the hang of writing and was keen to make his own packing list. Jack the bear was right at the top!

Travelling with kids toy bear on Packing list

Jack the bear on the packing list

Luckily for my son, I was kind enough to remember a few of the things not on his list (basic necessities like clothes, for example) but at least he had his bear, his toy planes and some pens for drawing.

Jack the bear flies on planes (a lot)

Jack is a regular companion on flights. He’s very soft and cuddly and just the right size, really – not too small so he’s easily lost, but not too big that he takes up space we don’t really have. This picture below is of Jack being a wonderful support to my son on a couple of long-haul Emirates flights.

Travelling with kids - Jack the bear waiting for Emirates flight

Jack the bear waiting for the next Emirates flight

We had a nine-hour stopover in the hotel (all paid by Emirates, which I rather liked) and at only three, my son was such a trooper about it – he was clearly exhausted but he clutched on to Jack waiting for the Emirates shuttle to take us back to the airport for the next leg and everything was OK.

Jack the playmate around the world

Being an only child, my son has often used Jack the bear (and many other toys!) for substitute siblings and Jack has certainly got pulled into playmate service regularly when we’ve travelled over the years.

Travelling with kids - toy bear is a playmate

Jack the bear enjoying a tea party in a hotel in Penang

I remember this day well – my son and I were spending two weeks in Penang, and spent a lot of time with my friend and her son, but they were sick this day and we decided to have a mostly rest day in our hotel. Jack the bear got invited to a Malaysian-style tea party, created out of whatever bits and pieces we had with us! I’m sure he enjoyed it.

Jack the bear goes sightseeing

Oh, doesn’t my now-much-bigger boy look cute here? At three-and-a-bit we were in Ireland, visiting the very friends who had given him Jack the bear when he was born, as they were spending half a year on Inis Meain.

Travelling with kids - Jack the bear going sightseeing on Inis Meain

Jack the bear going sightseeing on Inis Meain, Ireland

Here we are, about to set off on a walking tour of Inis Meain, one of the lesser known Aran Islands, and who’s coming with us? Jack the bear of course! He looks a bit newer and brighter in colour than he does these days, but that’s just because now he’s been to a dozen or so different countries and goodness knows how many plane, train and bus rides.

The future travels of Jack the bear

Next time we hop on a plane, my son will be mere weeks off turning eight. I feel confident Jack will accompany us on that trip, and maybe the following couple too, but there probably (sob) will come a time when Jack will stay home.

But in the meantime, and over the past seven years, this friendly toy bear will be and has been a loyal travel companion. And I’ve been happy to have him along for the ride!

 

Comments

  1. This is such a sweet post! And a great point about how travel can help catalog milestones for your kids. I have a stuffed dog (named Toby) that I got when I was twelve that’s been with us to Germany – and many other places along the way!

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