Should we wait to travel until our kid is old enough to remember it?

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eiffel @ noon My family LOVES traveling, and from what I’ve gathered, so do a whole bunch of you guys — we have the backlog to prove it! Between the two of us, my husband Sean is definitely more well-traveled, as he lived in England for quite a few years and had much easier access to most of Western and Eastern Europe than we do now (not to mention parts of Northern Africa).

All of our globe-trotting definitely instilled in us the desire to raise a seasoned traveler. Also, I don’t know about you, but I’m always jealous of people who went all over the world before age 18.

We’ve flown to a few places with Jasper, but none of these trips have been international. We’re dying to take him somewhere cool, but we’re a little torn: is it worth going somewhere if he won’t remember it? I mean, how bummed would you be if your parents were like, “Hey, we took an AWESOME trip to Morocco when you were 18 months old! It was rad! You loved it!” and you have absolutely no recollection whatsoever? Outside of trips to visit family far away, is it better to wait to travel internationally until your kid(s) can remember the trip, or should you start from a young age to nurture a wandering spirit?

Comments on Should we wait to travel until our kid is old enough to remember it?

  1. I think most of it depends on the temperament of kid(s) and parent(s). I don’t have the money for it but if I did my 8 month old would be a world traveler. 🙂

  2. I think it depends on the place… I plan on leaving the Disney World and more touristy type places for when they can remember… anywhere else it just depends on budget.

  3. My boyfriend has a five year old and I have been constantly impressed by the quality of his memory since I first met him (when he was 3). I think we tend to forget (or not realize) that just because we can’t remember it NOW doesn’t mean we never remembered it. I can’t remember what I did at four, but I do know that I DID remember it when I was ten. And I do remember being ten, which means that who I was at ten influences who I am now … and what I experienced at four influenced who I was at ten.

    Does that make any sense? I guess my point is, if you think there is something worthwhile to be gained from the experience beyond simply the memory (socialization, comfort in different locals, fondness for the outdoors) then have the experience. And take lots of pictures! Photographs and stories can be a great substitute for memories and, like an earlier poster said, a great subject for later conversations.

  4. My partner’s parents both worked for an airline. Her mom was a flight attendant, so she was a world traveller in utero! Her family made many trips when she was little, some that she doesn’t remember.

    She now LOVES to travel. She has such confidence in an airport or getting around in a foreign city (while I’m sitting in the corner trying not to cry from the overstimulation and anxiety). I don’t know how much of that we can attribute to her early experiences and how much of that is just her temperment, but I suspect it’s a bit of both!

    I’d love to world-travel with any future kids we have, although I expect money will be the sticking point for us (also the fact that our families live on a different continent, which means a lot of our travelling time will probably be spent visiting them).

  5. From a kids perspective, I’d say wait, or at least make certain you continue to travel later. I was the youngest in my family and we went on quite a few trips when I was under 10. After that, my siblings started going away to college and we didn’t go anywhere except for my robotics competitions. I often felt like I had missed out. Everyone else remembers, but I don’t.

  6. I’m pregnant and hoping to travel as much as we can from the start, including during this pregnancy. To me, waiting to travel until our child is old enough to remember would be like not traveling before our child is born so s/he won’t miss out… but we travel because WE love it, and we’re crossing our fingers that our child(ren) will too.

  7. Lots of people made great points already that I agree with (like don’t go now if it’s the only time you will be able to go b/c it does bother me that my family went to Disney World only once when I was 18 months old and I have no memory of it and it was our one and only family vacation anywhere!) But here are a couple of other things to consider:

    Are you planning on having more children? Because if you are, traveling with more than one small child is really a lot more difficult if you still have to bring car seats, stroller, pack-n-play, etc. I am glad we took our son to Europe when he was a year old before we had our daughter. We are waiting until the kids are at least three and five to travel internationally again largely b/c I want to be beyond diapers, pack-n-play, etc. and have at least one kid who is better able to sit still in a plane seat! That said, again–if you will only be able to do it once, wait until BOTH kids can go or the one who wasn’t born yet may be resentful.

    The other thing I will say is that I have noticed that with every trip we take our kids on, whether domestic or international, they seem to have a developmental spurt. Something about a change of scenery seems to encourage things to happen and it usually has nothing to do with the specific location. One small example–my son learned how to safely get down off of a bed while in Austria b/c our hotel bed was much lower to the floor than our bed at home. Simple things like that open up new possibilities to learn skills for kids so I think traveling anywhere with them is exciting (although definitely a challenge!) Oh and it’s true that you see places in a totally new way when looking for kid-centric activities and I think you savor simple pleasures more–like going to a park or going out for ice cream–no matter where you are.

  8. Well I am an Australian and going to be giving birth here in Prague….so my child will be born a traveler~!! I think our baby is pretty lucky. Bean wont remember much but when he/she is old enough we will be able to show photos and tell stories about all the cool places we traveled to. It think it depends mainly on where you are in the world. If we were back in Australia things would be completely different. We would probably take a few years to save up to get anywhere and just travel locally. But being in Europe…travel is so convenient and everything is so close. Germany is only an hour away and so will probably be the first place our little bean visits outside Prague. So I guess my point is… depends where you are and what your situation is~!! 🙂 Memories don’t need to be your own to be amazing. I love the stories my mother tells me about when I was a baby and how we went camping, I don’t remember it but her stories are magic. 🙂 Do it for you, do it for the stories, do it for the photos and most of all….do it for YOUR memories~!! xoxox

  9. When I was small, my dad had to travel all the time for work, and my mom and I usually went with him. It was all domestic travel. I actually remember a fair amount of it, starting when I was a little over 2 years old, but for the stuff I *don’t* remember, I have tons of photos and parental memories, which are possibly even more precious than remembering these trips myself.

    For their first international trip, my parents left me with my grandmother…and they often said in later years that they would have enjoyed the trip more if I were there.

    On the other hand, I’ve never resented my parents for not taking me on that trip, or anything. Once again, I have their memories 🙂

  10. We’re preparing to take our 5 month old to Japan for 2 weeks in May and I see it as a real confidence builder for us, as well as a great story to tell him when he’s older. We’ll feel able to take him anywhere anytime after that 🙂

  11. Do it! I was only 2 when my parents took me to Sweden to visit with relatives. I don’t remember anything, but I do know all the stories anyway. Every time we looked over the photos as a family, I’d hear all of the stories and eventually it’s as if they were my own memories anyway. Like how I got brought up to the cockpit when we were flying over the arctic and the pilots let us speak over the radio to Santa Claus! That’s part of MY history.

    Also, being able to say that I’ve been to Sweden has made me unique, it’s something I could say about myself while growing up that no one else could. Being an “international traveller” is who I’ve always been and it’s driven me to travel a lot on my own after.

  12. My family lived in Germany until I was 3, and while there are tons of pictures of our travels, I would have much preferred if they had taken similar trips when I was old enough to actually be interested in where we were and what we were doing! The pictures don’t really mean anything to me, and had I not gone back when I was 15, I wouldn’t even bother saying that I had visited those places. The trip when I was older had a much greater impact on me, and was more meaningful than looking at photos of my chubby little self. 🙂

  13. I plan on traveling with this baby. It may not be anywhere too exotic but still will be a good experience for us and it will get the baby used to different places. I am due in May and plan on taking our baby to my family’s summer house in Maine in August. We will probably do a trip out to Colorado in the winter and next summer for my brother’s wedding as well. I think traveling with babies is a good idea and you can always go back when the child is older and re-visit the places you went before.

  14. I agree with ancy and a couple of others, if YOU want to go somewhere with Jasper do it. Even if he doesn’t have a real memory of it, children will think they remember it if you tell them about it, and there are pictures. Lifes to short to wait to do things you want to do even if your only 2yo

  15. Here’s a somewhat related question – if your kids are school age, do you only travel during breaks, or do you take them out of school? On the one hand, I strongly feel education is the most important thing, and 2 weeks is a lot of time to miss and have to catch up on. On the other hand, my industry is busiest in the summer + travel prices are SO MUCH CHEAPER in the offseason. I’m starting to think our epic trips will all have to be in September and March.

    Any thoughts or advice?

    • I’d say it would depend partly on your children and how they are doing at school. If they are not struggling, I’d say they can get a massive educational experience out of travel, particularly if you incorporate some age-appropriate projects about the place you are travelling to. I really look forward to taking my kids tarvelling when they’re old enough to be curious and to really take things in. I think it could really add to their confidence as they get older too.

  16. I worry about taking a child out of the country that cannot speak. I think I will be waiting until my son can clearly state who he belongs to, knows his name, etc.

  17. I’m still a child myself but for some reason I am addicted to the offbeat trio! I think that waiting doesn’t always work. My parents waited to take big trips with my brother and I so that we could both remember it. My brother still doesn’t remember the details of the trips we’ve taken in the last five years, he is 16. They talk about taking me camping in the porta crib, sure I don’t remember it but since I grew up camping I got used to it.

  18. I spent the time from the age of 11 months to 19 months in Washington DC, and then from 19 months to 21 months in San Deigo. Quasi-Navy-brat. We did everything while we were there – I’ve been to every major tourist attraction in the Nova/DC/VA area.

    I don’t remember a bit. It wasn’t until this last summer, at the age of 19, that I flew anywhere, or went west of Montana. Sure, I’ve been to Canada a lot, but I live in the Puget Sound. It’s a hop, skip and a jump. I haven’t been south of Ashland, Oregon, since I got back from SD.

    Honestly, as the oldest of 5 kids, it wasn’t feasible for our family to travel again after that. There is always talk of taking another posting like my dad did so we could move back to DC or some other area for a few months, but we got so tied to this area that we’ll never move for more than a few months at a time. Ever. It’d take a major disaster to boot us off this land.

    I say travel later. I miss not remembering where I was, what I did. But at the same time, like what happened to my family, that may not be possible to achieve again.

    Weigh your options.

  19. Stephanie, have you considered doing some overseas volunteer type of stuff with your little guy? He can learn a lot about life, while strapped to your back in an Ergo or running around with the local babies (supervised of course). You can try things like for a worldwide list of organic farms you can volunteer at (there was an article in Mothering Magazine a few years back about a family who did it). Or pretty much any orphanage will be happy to have you visit too. There’s so many fun, eye opeing opportunities for families to travel overseas with and do it fairly cheaply too. is a blog about a father who travels with his two year old (very inspiring). I say, do it!

  20. ahhhh yes, this is one i ask myself all the time. i tend to be more of a “wait till they’ll remember” person, just because my parents took me eeeverywhere when i was a kid and, yeah, i don’t remember any of it. then when i was older and actually wanted to travel we didn’t have enough cash to do anything 🙁 so i would say this: if you can afford to travel with your kid as a baby AND as an older child/adolescent/teen, go for it. if you think you could only afford a few big trips, i’d say leave it till when they’re a little older.

  21. i don’t have a particular opinion on this (or a kid to make the opinion relevant), but i would at least lean towards “don’t worry about it too much.”

    your kid might grow up to be like me – with the worst memory in the world. i’ve been on a lot of fun trips with my family,and they were…fun, but i can’t tell you much more than that for anything that happened before, say, 15. i’m glad we went places anyway =)

  22. I just stumbled onto this and have to say the post date was sort of fitting for us as it was the day we returned from a three country international vacation with our then 19 month old son. It was an amazing trip that did have a few downs, but mostly was fantastic. Our son did great on the flight but did have some sleep issues the first two nights, after that he was in the spirit and had a great time. I know he won’t remember the experience but I will, and I wouldn’t trade that. He loved so much of the new things he was able to experience in the moment as well. We are hoping we will get to do it again in the future. With our son and our family the way it is, it was worth traveling abroad with our son.

  23. I say go for it! You’ll have a lot of great (not to mention cute) pictures and memories to share with your child as he or she grows. 🙂

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