My daughter was a month shy of her 2nd birthday when we took her to Cuba for the 2nd time. Bright and precocious, every morning she greeted the palm trees and knew that the number of our "Cuba house" was "40 -- four, zero!" At 4-and-a-half, those details are now erased from her memory, but she does vividly remember the colour of a bucket that belonged to a little boy she befriended named Arun. It was yellow, and it had a smiley face.
She doesn't remember the octopus stew she devoured or the tiny frogs (fwogs) and crabs (cwabs) she chased on the beach. Nor does she remember salsa dancing after dinner, or burying her daddy in the sand. That's ok, because my husband and I do.
Probably the biggest argument against traveling with babies and small children is they that they won't remember it. I guess this means that it's a waste of effort and money if the child can't store the (hopefully) happy memories of the trip. I have never understood this argument. First of all, babies remember and retain more than we think. Last year a Dutch research group determined the presence of short-term memory in 30-week-old fetuses and longer term memory of sound from then on. Fetuses of 34 weeks gestation can hold on to four weeks worth of memories of sounds and music.
But I'll grant that my daughter doesn't remember much before her 2nd birthday, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't have fed, played with, read to or cuddled her. She doesn't remember the long lovely walks we took, but that doesn't mean we should have stayed inside. She doesn't remember the books we read to her, but that doesn't mean we should have ignored her. Like travel, all that nurturing has shaped my daughter into the little person she is today, and this little person likes to go places.
My daughter's been on 10 trips so far, and her 15-month-old brother has been on 3. Although my husband and I agree that getting out and exploring new places, faces and food is good for them, quite frankly, we don't care if they remember any of it.
Because we will never forget it.
Family travel allows us to spend undivided and uninterrupted time together, away from our busy day-to-day lives.
As a result of traveling at a young age, my daughter was a very good traveler at a very young age. By two-and-change, she'd sit in her seat, seatbelt buckled, colouring or drawing or watching the seat-back entertainment, enjoying the snacks and treats that are a part of air travel. For her it's not "Are we there, yet?" it's "When are we going?"
Corinne McDermott is the founder of Have Baby Will Travel - your online guide for travel with babies, toddlers & young children. From baby packing lists to tips on coping with jet lag in toddlers, Have Baby Will Travel wants to help you get away with your baby! For more, visit Corinne's Have Baby Will Travel blog, follow Have Baby Will Travel on twitter and like us on Facebook, where Corinne welcomes your questions and comments.
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