It can be very freeing, to travel without the little ones. Any couple, who has had the chance to get away for a few days, can attest to that. But, there are advantages to taking the kids with you when you travel, too.
There are, of course the broader themes of family travel, i.e. long lasting memories, new experiences and educational opportunities. But, I’m not making a case for the benefits of travel to children. I’m making the case that traveling with children has benefits for parents.
The kindness of strangers comes out in spades when you’re traveling with young children. Travelers have come to think of the airport as a gauntlet of hassles and nastiness. But, airport employees know, all too well, the stresses of traveling with youngsters and will do what they can to make your life easier.
While negotiating airports, with our son in a stroller, we have at various times been expedited at check-in, security and customs. We often get through all the yucky airport business faster than we would have on an adults only trip and our son rarely has the opportunity to become impatient.
In recent years, airlines have really clawed back on the services they provide with the price of a ticket. Remember when you used to get a meal, a pillow AND a blanket? I’m, personally, a bit resentful of the reduction in value and refuse to pay for any extras. And on our most recent flight, I didn’t have to pay for any extras. The flight attendant took a shine to our little guy and the next thing we knew, we were getting free snacks and headsets. It’s a small thing, but it makes the flight much more pleasant.
By far, the people I meet and the conversations I get to have are the greatest perk of traveling with a young child. I’m not a particularly outgoing person. Left to my own devices, my interactions would be limited to saying, ‘thank you’ when the waiter brings my food. But, when I’m traveling with my son, people approach us. I don’t have to be brave and start conversations. People love kids and while they wouldn’t come up and talk to me, they will come up and talk to us. So I get to meet all sorts of people, everywhere we go.
We have found, almost universally, that people are very kind and generous to travelling families. Case in point, last year we traveled to Italy and stayed in a lovely, family run hotel in Sorrento. The couple who ran the hotel were very friendly and helpful. Over time they struck up a rapport with our son. On our final morning, they handed us a wrapped package and explained that it was a gift for our ‘bambino.’ It was a lovely Sorrento t-shirt with a happy looking lemon on the front – and in just the right size.
Touching connections, like that, enhance the trip and the memories you create of the locale you’re visiting. When I think of Italy, I think of the lovely, generous people who live there. But, I wouldn’t have met nearly so many of them if we weren’t traveling with our son. – Jen R, Staff Writer