Family holiday: Take the children on the big journey is written by Pernille Smidt-Kjærby.
A pair of globetrotters with children
For a couple of middle-aged globetrotters like me and my husband Thomas, it was almost unthinkable not to continue traveling after we had children. Ever since our children were very young, we have taken them out into the world on family trips. It was never really a question of whether we should still travel, more just when and where.
9-year-old Pelle took his first overseas trip Cuba, when he was 6 months old. Filippa at 5 was born - prematurely - during a trip in Florida and crossed the Atlantic at the age of just 6 weeks. So one might well say that they are born to travel.
Go on a family holiday with the little ones
Like so many other parents, we have been thinking a lot about family travel. About whether it could pay off. Whether it would be too difficult, and whether we would still experience something. Especially in the beginning, where it was just a small baby - and later a 4-year-old and a baby - we took on a family trip with.
I thought from the beginning that it was just a matter of getting going as quickly as possible. Otherwise, we risked ending up sitting here in the suburbs and wondering if it might pay off at all, without ever finding the answer. So we really just jumped into it. And we are really happy about that, because it can really pay off.
5 reasons why you should go on a family holiday
Granted: Travel is something we adults dream of. It may seem selfish to drag the kids along for long overseas travel. But it is in many ways incredibly rewarding for the whole family to travel on a family holiday - even with the little ones:
- It is often a matter of slightly longer journeys, which allows for lots of presence and quality time. Also for father, who may have difficulty creating an equally close bond with the child the first year time. A trip is a great way to enjoy the baby. It is for both mother and father, where you are only yourself and each other far away from everyday chores.
- You get to know your child - and yourself - even better. One finds that children are eminent to adapt and do not 'break' if things do not run exactly as one is used to from home. The most important thing for the child is to feel the parents' presence and calm. It is contagious - no matter where in the world you are.
- The little ones are really easy to take on a family trip with - contrary to what many might think. Most of the time, they are happy, as long as they sit on the lap of mom and dad and get their basic needs met. That the long flight is extra hard for the adults, it's a completely different talk…
- Children ARE just the ultimate best ice-breaker to get in touch with the locals. When we are on a family trip, the locals visit us completely unmotivated and without an agenda, just because we travel with children. It is as if both we and they have the parades a little more down, and there is a mutual openness to dialogue. We are often invited inside private homes. And we meet both recognition and genuine interest when we travel with children a little off the beaten track.
- Happy parents give happy children - happy children give happy parents.
Selfish parents versus happy children
Yes, it can seem selfish to drag a baby to Cuba if that's all you see. But if the child is happy, thrives and gets all needs covered at the same time as it has its mother and father around it 24/7, then I see nothing wrong in taking them on family holidays.
Agree, it is not only for the sake of the children that we travel. Babies and very young children could not care less where one's family vacation goes, as long as they are just with their mother and father. So yes, we might as well stay home in the garden. And there would be nothing wrong with that either.
I am a strong supporter of having a holiday in exactly the way you relax best. And then I believe that the parents' mood is contagious to the children. At home, we just get insanely happy in the lid of traveling, and the kids can feel it.
You only have the fun you make yourself
In addition, I am also of the basic belief that it has never hurt children to see that their parents also have their own interests and needs when they are on family vacation; things that make them happy, whether it's sports, travel or something completely different.
I think it is healthy and creates more spacious children that you sometimes have to ignore your own needs because there is something that one of the others in the family wants. Here, of course, we are not talking about babies, but slightly older children.
When I was a kid, my sister and I probably sat in the hall every Monday night while our parents played badminton. And just think, we did not even have an iPad…
Today it rarely happens. It is usually the parents who neglect their need for Pipilotta Krusemynte Viktualia to come to play appointments and sports. And yes, it happens here in the family too. But on the trips we have always said "We are four in the family, and right now we do something I or my father want, and later we do something you want". That's the way it is.
There must be something for all of us
There must be something for everyone and we do things for each other. And so it works. It speaks to the children's empathy, and it's easier for them to understand in that way and to immerse themselves and participate in an activity that may not have been their first choice if they know that "later we do something I want to do" .
So we do not actually experience a lot of hernia if we are to be a little cultural, or whatever the day's activity may now be about.
Teach your children about the world
But we also make something out of the fact that they have to think that what we experience is exciting. We spend a lot of time looking at the world map and talking to them about where we are going and what experiences await them. For example, before the Indonesia trip, we talked a lot about volcanoes and Komodo dragons.
And in connection with a road trip in the United States, we talked before about Indians and bears. In Uzbekistan, we talked about camel caravans and the Silk Road, among other things. The older the kids get, the more things we can bring into play. And there is also a lot of learning in it, and they suck it up.
So yes, I am of the opinion that if the kids do not care where the holiday goes, as long as they are with mom and dad, why not choose a destination that the adults really want to visit? Of course provided there are also things the kids will find exciting. But it seems to them that most destinations are, if only you 'sell it' right.
Traveling is educational for all ages
It is a pleasure to travel with the children, and so far it has only given positive experiences. Our experience is that the kids have to get up around the age of 4-5 before they start to be able to remember something concrete from the travels. But that does not mean that they do not think it is both fun and exciting to travel. Nor that they do not learn a lot from the journeys, because they do:
They experience other cultures and customs. They see that one can live and work in many different ways. That there are different religions and ways to worship them. That not everyone celebrates the same holidays, etc.
They rejoice in the hospitality, generosity, joy and smiles of the places we travel to - even the places where the locals obviously live in great poverty. They see the children's carefree play and are confronted with the fact that happiness does not lie in material things. But on the other hand in togetherness, friendships and togetherness.
They see exciting animals and beautiful nature - often something they otherwise only watch on TV. And they love it! We like to be active on the travels. So it has also always been natural that we move both in the cities and out in nature when we are on the go. Now they are so big that it can be a little longer walks and maybe a combined run / walk on the beach.
They enjoy the opportunities that nature offers - and especially the good laughs and presence that shared experiences and activities give us.
To get beyond the municipal boundary
Perhaps the most important thing, however, is that they experience that there is a big difference in how you live around the world. And that not everyone is as privileged as they are. Not everyone has an entire room filled with toys. Or clothes. Or just roof over your head for that matter.
You can easily get a feel for that, even if you are not very old. And I believe that these experiences help to give them perspective and teach them empathy. Before a trip, we sometimes clean up to find some toys for the kids who have nothing. And Pelle and Filippa know very well that we do it because they can actually do without those things.
All of this confirms to us the importance of showing our children the world. To give them an understanding of how privileged we are. And at the same time, it also confirms to us that the way we prioritize is the right one - for us. And not least how infinitely lucky we are that we have the opportunity to prioritize and go on a family trip at all.
The best travel buddies on a family vacation
Today, the kids are just as happy as we are when we go out with the backpack. They love to fly. They love the airport. And they are open and curious about the new places we visit - and the locals we meet. And like most other kids, they also just like sun and beach.
So the message from me is: Take the kids out on family vacation adventures. They are the coolest little travel buddies - and they want to.
Happy family trip!
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