Please Travel With Your Children! – Episode 164 of The Thoughtful Travel Podcast

My son is nine and a half as a write this. I know, 100%, that he is a very different child to how he would have turned out if we hadn’t travelled (rather regularly!) throughout his childhood to date. Not bad, just different, but I love the qualities travel has enhanced in him, like a massive amount of empathy and a deep understanding that people around the world live in all kinds of different ways but that we’re all people, regardless of language, culture, customs or anything else.

It doesn’t hurt that his geography knowledge is second to none (sadly, not even second to mine anymore – he will usually beat me on any geography quiz!!).

Anyway, all this to say – I cannot over-emphasise the benefits I believe that kids get by taking them travelling, even if it’s infrequently or not far. And the guests in Episode 164 of The Thoughtful Travel Podcast agree with me – have a listen!


Show notes: Episode 164 of The Thoughtful Travel Podcast

Please Travel With Your Children!

I might be a little bit obsessive about this topic – although it’s been a long time since an episode of The Thoughtful Travel Podcast has covered it – but I really passionately feel that taking your kids travelling is so very beneficial for them (and you, too!). In Episode 164 I chat with some great guests who feel as strongly about why you should travel with your children as I do.

First up, I chat with Nicci O’Mara who impressed me no end with some of the great ideas she has about how to help kids get the most out of their travels. I thought I was good, but Nicci is next level!

I then speak with AJ and Natasha who travelled the world with their young son, and intended to do it again in a few years. We discussed how there are a lot of great lessons for parents when travelling with kids, too.

Finally, I talk to Suzanne, an American who lives in a fairly remote part of Japan with her Japanese husband and biracial kids. She has lots of important reasons to take her children travelling and it was great to chat with her.

Links:

Please travel with your children - The Thoughtful Travel Podcast Episode 164

Transcript of Episode 164

Amanda Kendle 0:09
Hello, and welcome to Episode 164 of The Thoughtful Travel Podcast. And today I’ve got a pleading title: it’s called Please travel with your children! It’s actually a while since I’ve devoted an episode to any kind of topic related to traveling with kids but I still feel really strongly about it and the title Please travel with your children actually harks back to something or an incident I recall from 15 plus years ago when I was living and working in teaching in Europe. I always remember, even though I didn’t have kids of my own at the time, it really stuck out to me, as I don’t know, as an unusual and unnecessary thing. There was someone who was like a manager at a place I was teaching English at. And he and his wife took off on this really interesting sounding holiday to Oman. And it was only later that I learned that they had left the kids who I think were like eight and 10 or so, even in my mind, at that stage, a pretty good age to travel with. They’d left them home with grandparents because they just wanted to travel without them. And of course, you know, you might know, I was lucky enough to be taken traveling as a nine year old by my parents, and I’m sure they never even contemplated leaving me at home because taking me and my sister was half the point of going if not more than half the point because they knew how good it would be for us to travel in foreign countries and learn things and you know, all the good stuff that comes from traveling, so I have often often thought of that man. And I did learn that it was kind of a habit that they often traveled without their children, or maybe usually, always, I don’t know, and each to their own, but my plea really is, please travel with your children because it’s so good for them in so many ways. And my guests today will all vouch for that as well. So first up, I have Nicci O’Mara, who is on TheThoughtful Travel Podcast for the first time, but she has so much good stuff to say about traveling with kids. We started off talking about travels that stretch your comfort zone and stretch your kids’ comfort zones when you travel.

Nicci O’Mara 2:43
Travel with kids is probably one of the most amazing, nerve-wracking, fun, it’s got the highs and lows of everything, when you travel with kids. I traveled a lot before I had kids I lived overseas for a few years, did a lot of travel. And then when the kids came along well, I think that in itself actually took me out of my comfort zone!

Amanda Kendle 3:11
very true!

Nicci O’Mara 3:13
Which just actually having to think of all of the millions of things that that come with, you know, traveling with kids of certain ages, that I think once we get over those things, when it comes to getting kids out of their comfort zone, it can be anything from taking them to the airport, taking them through airport security, putting them on a plane, those type of things take kids out of their comfort zone, let alone when you take them to on a busy tour. You know, you’re going through the Coliseum and there are people everywhere. And they’re speaking different languages and there’s different smells, and all of those things actually I found have made I’ve got two boys and they’re now age nine and 11 and over the years I’ve found that they’ve become so adaptable to different situations because of the travel that we’ve done and that’s both in Australia and overseas as well. So we’re very, we make sure that when we go places like a few years ago we went to Italy, Italy and Denmark and Singapore and a few other places and of course they speak a different language. So we taught the boys just basic you know, nothing, I’m not a language teacher or anything I’m not a supermum

Amanda Kendle 4:37
I’m glad to hear that!

Nicci O’Mara 4:39
just taught them I just taught them a few phrases you know really important things so your pleases and thank yous and how to actually ask for a drink or a an ice cream and things along those are the important stuff in the world. It gave them, the confidence that I gave them because I was actually also the nasty the nasty mum who sat there and went, come on boys, you know you can do it go in there and ask them for a loaf of bread or and we rehearse it before they go in and things like that. And that took them so far out of their comfort zone, because they weren’t walking into the local shop that they walked into 1000 times. Everything was different. And they did it and they walk back out every single time with the biggest smiles on their face going you know what, mum? We did it and that was really cool.

Amanda Kendle 5:36
That is awesome. I have to confess I’ve never thought to get my son to do that. I don’t know why, like, I guess maybe there’s one of him. He probably would feel worried going and doing it himself. But just that is such a brilliant idea. You’ve actually given me goosebumps because I just think it’s, such a simple thing. But yes, a lot of adults are scared to do that. But if you can get your kids to be able to do that? That’s such an empowering confidence building thing to do? .

Nicci O’Mara 6:04
Yes, yes. And look it’s much easier to get them to do it! Just joking. But I think my, my parents, we traveled to Europe when I was I think our first really big overseas trip was when I was 11. And my mother did the same thing to me. And it was fantastic. And I can still remember, I think two phrases in Danish and one in German and I, you know, can I have a piece of cake? Perfect, random things and I still many, many years later, remember how to say those phrases. So it’s so it’s so funny the things that actually stay in your mind and and go with you. And then even things along the lines of everything for kids, meeting new kids in playgrounds. I mean, how many times have, you know, your son, he would want to meet and my kids, they want to meet other kids when they’re away. But of course, often language is a barrier, or just the fact that they don’t know them. So they actually have to get out of their comfort zone. And it’s beautiful because often they have more confidence in that side of things than we do. And then also when things go wrong, because something always always goes wrong, it doesn’t have to be, you know, huge. But, you know, trains are missed and flights are delayed and someone falls into the water, which I had one.

Amanda Kendle 7:44
Oh! Do tell! Where? What kind of water?

Nicci O’Mara 7:49
Going through Denmark, I, and he has improved. I don’t think he did it in another last couple of trips, but when my youngest was six, travelling through Denmark he, every body of water we went near he would just walk on the edge or skip over there and he would land in the water every single time and I don’t know why most of you know you’d go, oh, we’re just going to the medieval center or so I’m not taking a spare pair of clothes because he’s six,

Amanda Kendle 8:25
Yes, you don’t need spare clothes for a short outing like that with a six year old do you!

Nicci O’Mara 8:29
Well, the amount of times he got back in the car nude? Because he was saturated. Ah, anyway, it was it was very funny. But look, we all we all live and learn and you know, it’s one of those things with with traveling I find it’s such a great education for them. Because I, talking about the medieval center which was on the island of Lolland in Denmark, I don’t know if you’ve been there

Amanda Kendle 8:59
No! Now I want to go back!

Nicci O’Mara 9:01
it was fantastic, we loved it. But things they learnt it the culture, they learned about mechanics of the trebuchet as far because they got to actually fire a trebuchet, which is, you know, one of these big, big cannon type things. Um, and you said they got to learn the old ways, which we don’t have in Australia because well, sorry, we do have in Australia, but it’s so far it’s so different. Yeah. From indigenous way to the Danish. Danish heritage. Yeah. So it’s so wonderful to actually for them to learn that so I mean, I find you know, another great benefit of of traveling with kids is the fact that they love to they soak in all this information about the culture and languages. Geography is a huge one. And history but even science. So why does the toilet flush the other way? When you go to America

Amanda Kendle 10:09
so much just because it’s so experiential, so hands on that if you heard, something learnt like that on a trip is going to stick with them so much more effectively than you know just being at school and seeing it in a textbook or something.

Amanda Kendle 10:23
So after chatting with Nicci I’m totally kicking myself that I never thought of training up my son to go into bakeries or ice cream shops and ask for treats in multiple languages. That is such a cool idea. So it’s now on the agenda for future trips for sure. But I really loved chatting with Nicci about all of the good reasons to travel with kids. I’m glad my son is not the kind who really falls into water though I have to say, but also especially that they learn like so much that’s actually you know, like educational and academic as well in such a way that they always will remember it. My son already has the most amazing Geography skills and especially when it comes to maps and locating places and, you know, capitals and currencies and stuff. And I am a bit annoyed really because I actually pride myself on having pretty good geography because of my travels as well but we’ll often play a game at bedtime where we you know, search for things on the map. We’ve got a big world map in the bedroom and I’m really upset at how often he knows things better than me and you know, that’s not fair that young well-travelled brain. So yeah, bit frustrating, but I would rather he was like that then didn’t know anything. Anyway, I’ll get over it! My next guests today are AJ and Natasha, who have been who did a really big trip, traveling the world with their young son and also agree that it’s really really good for him.

Natasha 11:52
I’m always be reluctant world traveler. I put that in my profile everywhere. I’m in general, perpetually discontent. So for me, traveling in general was always hard. So traveling with a kid sounds like I want to tell people I’m scared of flying. I like things organized and everything and traveling is usually chaos. So in spite of all that, I think traveling with kids is one of the most wonderful things, mostly because you are fully focused on your children, and you’re fully focused on the moment and enjoying that experience with them. And I think one of the things that I always feel like children make you focus on the moment in general like if you are at home, like you know, we have a three year old, if you’re home and you’re trying to do multiple things, if your child wants you to do something, most likely you’re going to drop everything and do it because they’re just being annoying about it. So I think the same thing happens while traveling. And it’s so great because children especially at a young age will kind of go along with everything. So if you are on a plane like you were at the airport and so your flight is delayed here you are feeling cranky and fast. Something like the flight was delayed and your child just wants to run around the airport and have fun. Or in our son’s case, he wants to count the numbers in the terminal. And it just becomes an experience and a game. So every negative thing that you can think about travel, you actually don’t focus on it as much when you’re with your child. And it’s just I think the memories you create, the time you spend and the focus you have on travel is better with kids. And I’m less anxious traveling with my son than I am without him surprisingly,

Amanda Kendle 13:27
well, that’s interesting, because I get more as he’s older, it’s not so bad, but especially when he was younger, I was more anxious, traveling with him because I was always worried what would I do if something happened to him? Or if he got sick?

Natasha 13:40
Yeah, so I think that I mean, I think that’s why in general, like I think as a as a parent, you always worry about that. But I think that always will focus on him. I’m less anxious about me doing certain things, I’m less focused on myself. So for me, my anxiety levels just focus on myself. So so high, so focused on him, it’s actually less it’s anxiety. But it’s just less for some reason.

AJ 14:02
Yeah, I didn’t know, a couple of things that I enjoy about traveling with kids is number one, I felt like when we took a trip across the world immediately got closer together as a family. So when you spend, you know, we spent nine months on the road, and we spent nine months together. We had a lot of fights with your spouse, but you know, one of the cool things about when you’re traveling is when if you’re angry with your spouse, you really can’t go anywhere you’re on a cruise ship, like you know, you have to go back to your cabin and you just can’t like leave or go to a different room or something like that. You have to resolve the fight.

Amanda Kendle 14:40
Yeah, exactly.

AJ 14:42
What we found in general was like, we had a lot of fights at the start of the trip. And then as time went on, like the number of fights we had like, kept going down, and then we kept on and then we we got better as a couple and in resolving these things. Now also say having a little one with us probably helps in these fights too. Because like we are fighting and then he says something cute or something like you know you just forget about like the fight the fact you’re fighting

Natasha 15:12
Or he’s hungry or something

AJ 15:13
or you just focus on him and you know and I think just makes us calmer right um and we find better to yeah

Natasha 15:21
yeah. And I think like overall I feel travel like has become better. I know like earlier on I can think of you know even 10 in less than 10 years ago when there was no Airbnb like traveling to a hotel and you know, booking two rooms maybe you need a child another room like the like there are things around here now like you know. Airbnb, you can get like a house so you can kind of live home away from home almost. So you can kind of have that feeling of home while you’re traveling. And I think that kind of stuff has really made it easier to travel with kids.

Amanda Kendle 15:56
I agree completely with that because I know when I travel with my son, just that he’s got that extra space around and you know he can you know take his toy cars out or you know whatever it’s just you know in a hotel room often there’s not even any floor space and and kids need to be on the floor a lot and yeah you know in an Airbnb you know even an apartment you’ve got that living room or something that’s a bit of extra space.

Natasha 16:17
Yeah, and it was like a new home for him all the time. And you know, they get hungry in the morning so you’re not like sitting around in a hotel buffet. So it just makes life easier.

AJ 16:26
Yeah, I think the last thing and it’s probably more of a parenting thing that I really enjoyed about the trip was I could see two things number one, I could see us becoming more flexible and more relaxed as parents. So you go through these different situations and you when you when you’re parents like you worry about everything right and you worry about sleep schedules and what will my son he eat and all kinds of things that go through your head and then you watch this little one, adapt and and be okay with all kinds of situations. There’s all kinds of times all kinds of like flights whatever. And you just realize like you know, those things really don’t matter as much as we make it out to me. So I think he’s become you just go more with the flow and also think for him that he he got to try out foods all across the world like he ate cumin chicken in China. He obviously loved food in India. He ate like Italian bread. See here he is, the three year old trying or foods all over the world. And you’re meeting people from all over the world so I just feel like even in even in that young of a mind, you’re probably making him more open minded, more adaptable, more flexible, this child.

Amanda Kendle 17:46
Hmm, I 100% agree. So my son’s nine now and I’ve always traveled a lot with him and I am a hundred percent certain that the travels we did when he was three or four completely shaped how he is today and because he’s exactly like that he’s very open minded. He’s very, um, you know, he knows there’s lots of different kinds of people and different languages and different cultures and different foods and, and that’s just absolutely normal to him because he’s been exposed to it so much. So I’m sure that you’ll find with your son. That’s exactly exactly what does happen to him. So you’ve done him a great big favor.

Natasha 18:21
Yes. Yeah. You’re not gonna remember anything. So you might hate us. But you know, we had

AJ 18:27
We hoped to take another big trip in the next few years,

Natasha 18:29
that’s that’s the plan. We would love to do this.

AJ 18:31
Our plan is to hopefully do this every five or six years. Yeah.

Amanda Kendle 18:34
What a great plan. That’s awesome. Yeah, I don’t think it’s important that they don’t remember I think that they it shapes their personality so much thatYeah, yeah, I’ve you know, there’s lots of things that my son doesn’t remember about our early trips, and some he doesn’t really remember it all, but I’ve still seen how it’s changed him.

Amanda Kendle 18:54
So just in case you didn’t get my message out of that is this People who say, oh, why would you take your kids traveling when they’re too young to remember it? Take them please traveling. I dispute that so strongly that it’s a waste taking them when they can’t remember it, because they need kids don’t remember anything really about the early childhood, but it completely shapes them, you know, no one would. No one would disagree with that. So why doesn’t traveling shape them as well, so please take them. Okay, I’ll get down off my high horse. My final guest today is Suzanne Kamata, who’s also on the sort of travel podcast for the first time today. And she has a really interesting perspective on why it’s really important for her that her kids got to travel a lot.

Suzanne Kamata 19:41
In my case, I’m an American, married to a Japanese man living in Japan. And we live in a rural part of Japan. So it’s not like International, you know, cosmopolitan Tokyo or Osaka like that. So our children are biracial. And I wanted them to also be bicultural. And it was probably difficult for them to grow up in this kind of remote part of Japan as, as one of you very, very few mixed race children. And there’s a problem with bullying in Japan, especially of kids who are different in any way and mixed race and you know, my daughter’s, my daughter has disabilities. And both of my kids are mixed race. So that seems to make them bully magnets. I wanted them to have a wider view of the world, first of all, and to know that things were not ideal in their hometown, like there was another world out there and that might be different and more accepting of them. So that was one very important reason for me to take my kids out to other places and other countries. So we try to, we try to take them back to America maybe once a year. And we traveled around Japan to and we took them to historical, historically significant places as well. Because in their history classes in Japan, they get the Japanese view of history. And that might be different from the American view of history. wanted them to have a broader a broader view of the world. And so that was the main reason.

Amanda Kendle 21:45
Yeah, they’re pretty important reason. Sorry, go on.

Suzanne Kamata 21:48
Yeah, I’ll say because I love traveling and I didn’t want to stop traveling just because I had kids and

Amanda Kendle 22:00
That’s a good reason too, I feel a bit the same

Suzanne Kamata 22:03
A big reason. Yeah. So I found a way to adapt my travels and to enjoy.

Amanda Kendle 22:11
And what do you think your kids have learned from your travels? Do you think they’ve learned what you wanted them to learn? Or have there been other things that they’ve learned as well?

Suzanne Kamata 22:20
Um, I do, I think I think it did help them to, to go out and see different places and my son, I was worried that they would, you know, get tired of traveling because some kids like they, they go to Italy, they go to, you know, Bali or whatever. And then when they’re older, they don’t they don’t want to travel. They want to hang out with their friends at home. So I was a bit worried that that would happen. But my son, he continues to be interested in travel and even though he went on like school trips to Hawaii and Guam, and we took him to various places in the United States, like he’s still interested in traveling, he ended up going to a university where there are lots of international students. So instead of coming home like he, during spring break, he went to Taiwan,

Amanda Kendle 23:17
With some of his university friends?

Suzanne Kamata 23:19
Yeah. With one of his new friends from Taiwan? Oh, summer he, he came home briefly, but he also went to Korea for a sort of a it’s kind of a symposium type thing. So he’s like, he’s really interested in meeting people from other countries. And he’s interested in traveling. Also,

Amanda Kendle 23:44
That’s awesome Yeah, you certainly you didn’t make him sick of it.

Suzanne Kamata 23:48
Yeah. And my daughter has always been really enthusiastic about traveling and she likes she watch these travel logs on television and she said, I want to go there. I want to go there. I want to go there.

Amanda Kendle 23:59
It’s a long list.

Suzanne Kamata 24:01
It’s great, you know, because I could take her with me places and my husband is less enthusiastic about travel as the years go by. But my kids remains, you know, excited about visiting new places so it at least I could travel with them.

Suzanne Kamata 24:18
I think every parent has their own particular reasons that they really want to take their kids traveling, and I really liked Suzanne’s explanation of hers. Suzanne actually earlier this year published an amazing book I recently read it’s called Squeaky Wheels. And it’s all about the travels she’s done with her daughter. The subtitle actually explains it well it says travels with my daughter by train plane, metro, tuk tuk and wheelchair and of course her daughter is deaf and has cerebral palsy. And that, you know, of course, introduces a few extra challenges on her travels, but still at their pain, just so many benefits from doing it. I’ve got some some more of our interview to play in a future episode as well. Anyway, please take your kids traveling, I probably am preaching to the converted mostly but if you haven’t if you have any doubts about it, please do it. I promise it is good for everyone. Anyway, thank you very much for listening to Episode 164 of The Thoughtful Travel Podcast. A big thank you to my guests. First up, I chatted with Nikki O’Mara from trip chiefs. She’s at tripchiefs.com and she has lots of really good advice there and even some like a free e-course and stuff for parents who are worried about taking their kids traveling for the first time and want to you know, figure out all of that will get past all of the the problems and the reasons that they might be reluctant to and just kind of get out there and do it. There’s lots of really good resources at trip chiefs. Next thank you to Natasha and AJ from the Two Idiots travel blog, and you can find them at 2idiotstravel.com the two is the number two and lastly, I chatted with Suzanne Kamata and you can find her at suzannekamata.com. And I’ll also leave a link in the show notes to her book Squeaky Wheels. And the Show Notes for this episode will be at not a ballerina.com slash 164. Now, some of you already will be on the newsletter or mailing list for The Thoughtful Travel Podcast. But if you’re not, then I’ll also leave a link in the show notes to sign up to that because I’ve just relaunched it recently as Thoughtful Travel Thursday, and every Thursday you get an email with a link to the newest episode, but also a few links to some really interesting stuff to read around the web, the kind of thing that we thought for travelers want to read. So do come along and sign up for that. Thank you very much for listening.

Comments

  1. Hi! I am a new reader, I stumbled across your blog tonight. I travel solo (sans husband due to his work commitments) with my four children. They are aged 10, 8, 7 and 5 at the moment. And I have been doing it since they were all babies. I totally agree with you about the benefits of travel for children. The journey for me, doing it solo, can be quite stressful (and we are prone to travel drama, always have been, the stories I can tell!) but it is ALWAYS worth it. Always. One of the things I love about them having traveled is the connections they then make in daily life. For example, right now its Christmas time obviously … we went to Finland (from Japan) earlier this year. So this past week they’re having lots of “ah ha” moments making connections between the two which they wouldn’t have made had they never been to Finland. They just met Santa too and he was telling them in Japanese he was from FInland and they wanted to know where and correlate it to the places we’d visited. Santa was abash! Just one of several / dozens of examples of the benefits of travel with kids.

    • Oh I love hearing this Lynda – I often do think I have it easy, travelling with just one, and with four you are vastly outnumbered – good on you for not letting that stop you! Love the Santa questioning!!

Speak Your Mind

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.