It’s not all that uncommon to hear someone say, “I hope your kids remember some of your travels. I don’t remember anything from my childhood!” They’ve got a point–our children are only 8, 5 and 2 years old–awfully young to be soaking in some long-term memories.

Sometimes I take the time to explain that we take a lot of photos, and I’ve found that when I look back through photo albums of my childhood I remember experiences so much better when there are photos to help me recall them. I’m hoping this will also help our kids remember. But this argument seems to fall on deaf ears, and I’m not sure if they’re ever convinced.

But really, people…this is our life, not a vacation. We’re not weekend warriors, and with our slow-travel habits our kids have opportunities to build many memories in one single place. Our “life” is not a one-night hotel stop where years down the road we’ll say, “remember that one restaurant in that one town we drove through?!”

My now-8-year old daughter remembers amazing details about our early years and travels in Mexico when she was only 6 and younger. She remembers details like no one else I know, and constantly astonishes me when she describes what we did and where. My now 5 year old remembers less, given her age, but still pulls out stories and memories from over a year ago that surprise me. She can’t connect the dots as well as my 8 year old (like remembering locations), but she still has flashes of memory about certain events, experiences and friends. And then we pull out the photos…and the two of them “ooh” and “ahh” and point out the things they remember…or don’t…with unending excitement!

If you’ve considered that traveling with young kids isn’t worth it, because they won’t remember it…then you might as well say that it’s not worth reading to your children when they are young, because they won’t remember it all. Sure, they won’t remember the details of exactly what you read to them, but they will remember simply that you read. This will help instill in them a love of reading and learning, among other things.

Which is more important?  The details or the example?

Am I worried that our children won’t remember the fine details of our travels?  Absolutely not!

The truth is, I don’t expect them to remember it.  Certainly not all of it.  In fact…maybe not even most of it.

Don’t get me wrong…I’d love if they remember every detail about riding and caring for elephants in Thailand, climbing spectacular pyramids in Central America, and watching the colorful processions of Semana Santa in Guatemala.

But I don’t even expect myself to remember everything.

That’s why I’m writing this blog–to record the stories, photos, and videos!  I’ve found that it’s the captured moments that I often remember best, anyways. The captured moments becomes the memories!

What I do expect of my children is that they will look back at the photos, hear/read the stories about what we did, and those photos and stories will be part of their history.

Simply knowing they were there is enough.

They don’t have to remember exactly what happened each day.

  • They’ll know that they were brave enough to try something new, experience a new culture, and eat foreign food. This will give them the confidence as they face unknowns in their life.
  • They’ll know that there’s a big world beyond their personal bubble, and they’ll have a thirst for knowledge and discovery.
  • They’ll know that they have experienced other cultures and religions first-hand, and as growing adolescents and adults they will have a better appreciation and respect for those who are different than them.
  • They’ll have learned flexibility from traveling…providing them the amazing skill of resilience that can serve them throughout their lives.

It’s not important that my son was only 2 when he first rode an elephant!  He will look back at those photos and videos in the future, and say “Wow! Look at what I did when I was just 2 years old!  What can I do now that I am 5? Or 20? Or even 50 years old?!”

Life is to be lived now…not saved for “when the kids are older”!! 

So quit making excuses and help instill in your children a love of travel and adventure while they are young and impressionable!

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This post was part of a group writing project. Don’t miss your chance to read what other Traveling Families have to say about their experiences traveling with young children….

Is Traveling with Young Kids Worth It? – Bohemian Travelers

Why Travel is Good for Kids Even if They Don’t Remember It – Family on Bikes

Travel Memories Much More Than What… – Catherine et les Fées

Is Traveling with Young Children Worth It – Break Out of Bushwick

Is Travelling with Young Children Worth It – Flashpacker Family

Why Travel is Not Wasted on the Very Young – Edventure Project

Traveling with Tots: The World is My Playground – Simon Says

The Gift of Travel – Living Differently

Why I Don’t Care if My Child Remembers Our Travels – Portable Professionals

Will Kids Remember Travel – Barts Go Adventuring

The Journey is the Reward

Why Travel When Yours Kids are Too Young – Where’s Sharon

Why You Should Travel With Kids Even If They Won’t Remember – Practical Adventurology

Doubt that Travel Has Value – Raising Miro on the Road of Life & Aimee from Suitcases and Strollers

Why Travel When They Won’t Remember Experiences vs Memory – We Travel Countries

Why Travel When Mak Won’t Remember? – The Expat Experiment

34 Responses to “But Will Our Kids Remember?”

  1. Yes, it IS life, not a vacation!! The experiences we collect inform who we are, even if we don’t remember all the details!

  2. Great post, Alissa! So far, my girls also remember stuff better than I do, with much more details and precision!

  3. Yes! Do kids remember all those hours sitting in front of a TV watching Baby Einstein? If not, then why do we do it? Everything we do for our children contributes to who they are – whether that’s watching TV or riding elephants.

  4. Totally agree! Travel definitely teaches our kids how to push past their comfort zone and experience the world outside of their bubble. That’s got to be good for them!

  5. You nailed when you said, ” Life is to be lived now…not saved for “when the kids are older”!! ”

    Every little experience they have whether they remember or not paves the way and forms their futures, their thoughts, their personalities. Travelling is just such a great win win situation for everyone. I just see so many upsides to travelling with kids. It’s too bad so many people see only the negatives.

  6. This is our life… not a vacation…. I say that all the time! So true and it really does make a difference… the philosophy and the approach… love the pics!

    • Thanks, Jennifer! But after I thought about it…it doesn’t matter if it IS a vacation, as long as the traveling is a break from the norm! Just a change of scenery is valuable, even if is brief!

  7. We traveled with our children when they were young. Our daughter was only 9 months old when we went to England to visit relatives. She doesn’t remember the trip but she loves to look at the photos from the trip. When the kids were older we would take them out of school to go on a trip. I remember when we went to Cuba the teachers didn’t want the children out of school as they would be behind when they came back. We felt that the experiences that the gained from that trip far outweighed the little bit of missed school. I think what you are doing with your children is great and you should keep on doing what you think is best not what other people think.

    • Exactly–the kids LOVE to look back at the photos, and the trip still holds “memories” for them (even if they are not their “own” memories)! I agree that it is worth taking kids out of school for travel. Thankfully, when we did have our girls in a school in Mexico they were quite forgiving of us taking the girls out for several months throughout the year!

  8. Beautifully done! Next time someone asks me why we are doing this…. I am going to direct them your site. Thanks for being an inspiration to our family! Godspeed.

  9. That’s a great point–I certainly don’t remember everything from my travels either. I’m going to have Ryder start a blog as soon as he can type!

    • My older 8 year old daughter has done just 1 guest post on our blog, but talks about her “next one” all the time (she takes it very seriously…therefore needing lots of time to plan for it)! Hahaa! I think it’s such a fantastic tool for journal-keeping!!

  10. So very true, how kids gain so much. I love the example of seeing what they did young and because of that knowing they can do anything!

    • I feel this way about some key examples I’ve been shown in my life. For example, I LOVE homebirths and have always been open to them (whereas my siblings haven’t)…probably because I was the only child (of 5) who was delivered via a planned homebirth! Just KNOWING you were a part of something (whether you remember it or not) opens up your mind to new things!

  11. I loved reading this… you guys have created so many beautiful stories for your kids. You could print out hard-cover books (of this blog) – and your kids could keep them as family heirlooms. So many lovely memories and photos and stories… far, far more valuable than “stuff”…

  12. YES – life is for living NOW!! Great post!!
    Shared family experiences create such strong memories – no matter what details get “remembered”
    All the best to you guys!!

  13. Lovely post, great photos and so true. We sometimes laugh at how we only have perhaps 100 pictures in total of our own childhoods – but today they are lucky enough to have thousands! And just like your children, ours adore going through the pictures, with much excitement and often laughter…It always amazes me what and how they remember – good and bad. I’m looking forward to reading the versions from the other families and maybe add our own.

  14. yep, exactly!! great post!! and great to see some other ginger ninjas 😉

  15. “Simply knowing they were there is enough.” – So true! I even look at my own memories, recent or long ago, and of course I don’t recall all the details. But the experiences leave an indelible mark on every part of me, just as they for the kids. I can only imagine as it is more true for young children as they are still forming their understanding of the world around them. The first pic is my fave – what an amazing experience that lantern festival was. And I am so grateful to have met you!

  16. I totally agree. Great post and look at the awesome pictures of the experiences your kids have had! I am so excited to get to South America with my family and begin our travel life. Your family is an inspiration.

  17. Nice! Totally agree 🙂

    How did I miss this writing project??

  18. Great post – definitely it’s the idea, the overall impression that is the important thing and not the details. I’d not looked at it that way!

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