After reading a recent Telegraph article from Grant Feller who outlines his arguments to why he thinks far-flung luxury travel is wasted on the young, and why he believes it’s not worth doing until children are teenagers, I found myself questioning my own motives to why I want to travel so much with my son.
Is it because, as Feller concludes: ‘Don’t pretend you’re travelling the world for any other reason than you quite fancy having a good time yourself…’?
Well I’m not going to lie, of course I travel because I want to go and see these amazing places myself. But is there anything wrong with that?
I’ve read several blog posts from travel bloggers who have categorically stated that they have no wish to have children because they feel that in some way this may impede on their lifestyles and freedom to travel spontaneously. And they’d be absolutely right…
But different doesn’t mean bad. And, while I can look back and compare my time as a traveller pre-kids, and see the differences to my experiences now and then – like having to be more organised – travellers without children have no such comparison, they can only make assumptions.
While people who choose not to have children shouldn’t have to defend their decisions, it works the other way, too. I see so many parents who want to travel with their kids berated for it in some way or another. You only have to see the looks and glares to boisterous children on aeroplanes or around hotel pools to get a glimpse of the cogs turning in the minds of disapprovers – those who feel children should be muzzled and kept hidden away.
Feller describes his time as a youngster jetting across the Atlantic and exploring the US as boring but that was back in the 1970s. Dare I say things are a lot different now. Children’s needs and wants are much more catered for, as are our expanding families who are looking for more than just the usual sight-seeing and package holidays tours.
My son got to see an exploding geyser and Northern Lights in Iceland earlier this year, and he loves telling people about that, as well as his first ride on a tuk tuk in Thailand. He may not remember the finer details in 10 years’ time, but that doesn’t mean these experiences haven’t shaped him in some way.
However, I do agree with Feller’s points that expensive jaunts around the world aren’t really necessary for young kids – Monkey is just as happy with an ice-cream and a walk along a shingle beach. But although not necessary, it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done. If families have the means to do so, then pricey expeditions abroad is a lifestyle choice and children will benefit.
Well, put simply. Happy parents equals happy children. It’s a no brainer. Feller says these trips are wasted on the young, that they would prefer to eat burgers and chips, and watch cable TV in hotel rooms. While that sounds appealing to me, too, I mean there’s only so much local cuisine you can eat the whole time you’re away – that’s a huge over generalisation.
Plus there are so many other reasons why travelling – whether it’s far and wide or closer to home – that are beneficial to young children including opening children’s minds and teaching them humility. And most importantly, that the world is a big place filled with different people and different cultures.
I’m proud to say that only recently, one of Monkey’s teachers told me that his knowledge and desire to explore is infectious. He is talkative about his adventures and confident in interacting with his peers as well as strangers. And I know this is because we have exposed him to so many places already.
Meanwhile, what trips aren’t expensive these days? Travel is a costly hobby. Airfares, hotel accommodation, attractions and even long weekends in the UK all add up. Budgets also differ wildly – so ‘expensive’ to one family could be ‘reasonable’ to another.
In this day and age of rising living costs and full-time working parents who barely spend any quality time together, it’s not a waste to use your hard-earned cash for a once-in-a-lifetime trip – or a ‘big’ holiday once in a while. Yes, your children may not remember it properly when they’re older, but you will.
It’s never a waste of money to be able to spend quality time together as a family and share unique experiences, to strengthen the bond between you all.
To me, this is priceless…