With the spate of online plane hate, the apparent need for a bill to seat children with their parents on flights and now stories of how travel is wasted on the young, parents these days might be understandably discouraged from family vacations, especially to destinations that require more effort to travel with kids.
This year I attended the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration - a gathering of writers and bloggers hosted by Disney at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Amy Foster, the Director of Consumer Insights for Disney Destinations, had perhaps the most thought provoking quote of the conference, "You might only have 18 summers with your children, make memories now!" Since most naysayers believe that travel is wasted on children too young to remember it, that would mean we'd have only 14 summers, maybe 15 - tops.
And while a Disney vacation is a dream for most families, there's value to be had in any trip, and it doesn't matter that they won't remember, because you will never forget.
Remember, folks, 18 summers. Here are 10 more reasons to travel when your kids are little...
Babies nap. Sometimes twice or even more each day. Naps are usually given as a reason to avoid traveling with babies, as they're seen as an inconvenience. But following your child's routine while you're traveling gives your days structure, and since you're not at home, <em>you</em> can actually nap as well. Or read a book. Or just relax. <em>Photo courtesy <a href="http://www.discovershareinspire.com" target="_hplink">Discover Share Inspire</a></em>
Babies love sand. And they always take a mouthful -- at least once. Wouldn't you prefer that first sandy taste test be on a pristine beach, rather than the mucky sandbox at your local playground? <em>Photo courtesy <a href="http://havebabywilltravel.com" target="_hplink">Have Baby Will Travel</a></em>
The littler the baby, the easier they are to cart around. If you travel before your baby is mobile, chances are they will be content to ride in a stroller or be worn in a carrier, and you are free to roam city streets or country lanes with a fellow passenger who's happy to come along for the ride. <em>Photo courtesy <a href="http://www.miniglobetrotters.com/" target="_hplink">Mini Globetrotters</a></em>
You know who likes riding public transit? Typically not commuters heading to and from work, but toddlers sure do. You can save a lot of money on rental cars and taxis, avoid lugging the car seat around and it's easy to transition to other activities by the promise of a bus or subway ride. <em>Photo courtesy <a href="http://www.suitcasesandsippycups.com/" target="_hplink">Suitcases & Sippy Cups</a></em>
As a first-time mother, I wouldn't have believed this, but a young, exclusively breastfeeding baby, is the easiest travel companion. No concerns over food safety or allergies or picky eaters to manage, a baby who is still on a liquid diet is the easiest to feed while traveling. If you're bottle feeding, pack enough formula if you're not certain you can get your brand at your destination, and it's really not that hard to <a href="http://havebabywilltravel.com/2011/12/17/how-to-sterilize-baby-bottles-in-a-hotel-room/" target="_hplink">sterilize bottles in a hotel room</a>. <em>Photo courtesy <a href="http://havebabywilltravel.com" target="_hplink">Have Baby Will Travel</a></em>
Those evenings spent lingering over coffee and dessert may be on hold for the time being because chances are you're eating dinner at about the time you used to be maybe thinking about getting dressed to go out. There are lots of restaurants that offer pretty great early bird specials for those dining before 6 p.m., and they're not just for the snowbirds to enjoy. <em>Photo courtesy <a href="http://havebabywilltravel.com" target="_hplink">Have Baby Will Travel</a></em>
When you hit the theme parks as parents for the first time, you'll notice a lot more than the lines and the expense. Our trips to <a href="http://havebabywilltravel.com/category/disney/" target="_hplink">Walt Disney World with a baby</a> and a preschooler in tow meant we could get a do-over for our childhood trips -- for us that meant several spins through It's A Small World, and the mouse ears with our names embroidered on them. And when your kids are little, you get to be the boss of the itinerary, too. <em>Photo courtesy <a href="http://havebabywilltravel.com" target="_hplink">Have Baby Will Travel</a></em>
It seems there are more and more stories about how kids are not welcome in restaurants, or how people's travel experiences are ruined by the presence of children. However, in lots of cultures in lots of countries, children are adored, and families with children of all ages are welcome just about anywhere. <em>Photo courtesy <a href="http://travelwithbender.com/" target="_hplink">Travel With Bender</a></em>
Babies are great icebreakers. If you're out and about with your baby or toddler, especially when it's obvious you are not a local, you may find yourselves to be treated as celebrities. Unless your name is Brad or Angelina, chances are it's not every day you're stopped to have your photo taken with your children. Parenthood is also a great equalizer. It doesn't matter who you are or where you're from, you love your children and are interested in how other people are raising theirs. <em>Photo courtesy <a href="http://walkingontravels.com/" target="_hplink">Walking On Travels</a></em>
The younger you start traveling with your children, the quicker they become excellent (and even easy) travel companions. They become used to what is expected of them on travel days and are excited about new places, faces and foods. It is a joy to see the world through your baby's eyes, why wait to experience it? <em>Photo courtesy <a href="http://www.goinganyway.net/" target="_hplink">Going Anyway</a> </em>
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