Should kids be world travellers?

Our kids have barely left the province and I feel guilty about it. They’ve been to P.E.I. for a camping trip, to New Brunswick for a quick day trip and to Ontario for a week at their grandparents’ house. Other than that, our family travel has been limited to lugging the 1991 Jayco tent trailer around Nova Scotia.

Because my husband works for a major airline, it makes me feel even more guilty for not carpe-ing the diem out of his employee perks. Shouldn’t we be the ones jetting off at a moment’s notice, or at the very least planning incredible vacations?

Sometimes I fantasize about packing four small carry-on suitcases and four backpacks and just … going. Driving to the airport and hopping on whatever flight strikes our fancy. No need to check bags or hassle with missed connections because there wouldn’t be a plan.

Their first flight

We’d stay somewhere for a night or two and come home full of stories and photos. Maybe we’d start a fun collection where we buy a mug or mini license plate in each spot we visit.

How amazing would it be to take your kids to every single province and territory before they were 10 years old? How awesome would it be to also say you’ve been in every single U.S. state?

I’m 32 and I’ve only been to six provinces and nine states (several of which were just stopovers or drive-throughs). We could even make a point of visiting totally random spots like Cincinnati and Milwaukee instead of just the biggest cities.

They’d be learning about geography in the coolest way possible, and maybe they wouldn’t have to make up little rhymes to remember the order of the non-Atlantic Canadian provinces like I did. (“Q. O. M. S. A. BC. That’s what Canada means to me!” Catchy, wasn’t it?)

I started flying to Europe before my first birthday, but how old will our kids be before they cross the ocean? Will I get to experience it with them, or will they go on a high school trip or a pre-university backpacking adventure with their friends? We’ve never been to Paris or Rome and we talk about going once we’re empty-nesters but there’s no time like the present, right?

So why aren’t we packing right now? First and foremost, travelling is expensive. Every trip we’ve taken as a couple has costed more than we expected. We’ve typically put more money into “stuff” or upgrades to the house, so could we even become the kind of family that values travel and new experiences over material possessions and creature comforts?

Travelling also requires taking time off work. My husband does shift-work (which can be unpredictable) and I’m a freelancer (which is actually Latin for “totally unpredictable and also no paid vacation for you, ma’am”). It means being flexible, eating different foods and throwing daily schedules out the window, three things that are difficult for this routine-loving mama.

Travelling with little kids can also be a huge pain. More stuff to bring, more concerns to address, more limitations on what you can see and do (no Red Light District tours in Amsterdam or Broadway shows with nudity). It means worrying about loud neighbouring hotel rooms and staying in every evening.

My husband and I travelled to New York City regularly before having the kids, and we’re now stuck between wanting to show them the city we love and fearing it will be too difficult (or just annoying) to drag them through the crowds.

Babies in NYC, February 2008. 

Our son would flip for the LEGO store in Times Square and our daughter is already begging to go to American Girl. We want to show them Central Park and take them on the subway and wander through the Museum of Natural History, but can their little legs handle so much walking?

The reality is that as much as I love the romantic notion of being a family that travels regularly, I might be imagining us as something we’re not. I’m not sure if we could logistically do it … or if we’d even enjoy it?

Even though I’ve yet to figure out if this is something that’s right for our family, I did finally print the kids’ passport forms and I’m taking them for photos tomorrow.

Maybe we’ll do a trial run and see how it goes. I’ve heard Ohio is lovely in March.

2 Comments on “Should kids be world travellers?

  1. We’re in a similar boat. Poor kid has been to Halifax and Fredericton and Moncton — no further. We are planning a trip to Disney in a few months, which has been something that I have been wanting to do with her forever. Travel always makes me love being home. Being home makes me want to travel. I just can’t win! Haha.

    • Whoa, DISNEY??? That’s amazing! I’m a total homebody so I’m not a great traveller (same with our son), BUT Michael and our daughter are adventurous and really love it. It’s so tricky!

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