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!
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
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