Editor’s note: This article was written pre-COVID-19. When planning a vacation, please reference the latest CDC guidelines for travel.
Every time we travel with our six kids, I have this moment of panic where I ask myself: What have we done?! What WERE we thinking? Why did we come to the beach/the zoo/Grandma’s house/Disney? We’re never traveling again.
And yet, we always do.
I do it because there’s nothing like seeing my toddlers dip their toes into the ocean for the first time.
At first, they cry and refuse to put their feet down because the wet sand feels so different. But after a while, they plant their sturdy feet at the water’s edge and smile as they feel the sand swirling underneath their feet and back out to the ocean. Those firsts — at the beach, at the mountains, and everywhere in between — remind me of the beauty of the world as I see it again through my children’s eyes.
I do it because the sound of their laughter when playing with their cousins is infectious.
We often travel to see extended family. My kids and their cousins spend hours working on elaborate plays, dance routines, and craft projects. I smile when hear them all roaring with laughter in the other room, and I’m reminded that there’s nothing better than spending time with family, especially when it means I get to catch up with my sisters while the kids entertain themselves.
I do it because I know there’s no better way to teach my kids about the world than by showing it to them.
They know where the Atlantic Ocean is because they jumped into the chilly Atlantic waters while visiting relatives in New England. They know the difference between a nickel and a dime because they counted out their change to pay for their souvenir bracelets at the zoo. Their learning comes alive through hands-on experiences and adventures. Traveling also teaches them that people in different cities and countries may look, sound, or do things differently, but that diversity is part of what makes the world such a beautiful place.
I do it because it reminds me of what life was like before I had kids, when travel was easy and carefree.
Traveling before kids was stress-free; I would throw some clothes in a carry-on bag and head out the door without any snacks, lovies, or sippy cups. These days, traveling with my six little ones means that I bring bucketloads of those things. However, I still see glimmers of my carefree, pre-kids traveling days when we travel, and that reminds me that I’m still the same person, even though I have lots more luggage these days.
I do it because I get to experience my favorite childhood places all over again.
While walking down Main Street at Disney World with my kids, I remembered the magic I felt when my parents took me there. With each place I’ve revisited, I marvel at the fact that I am now the parent, and I get to see everything again with my own kids. There’s nothing quite like reliving the magic from your own childhood while also seeing your kids’ joy when doing those same things for the first time.
I do it because it’s freeing to step away from the laundry, the to-do list at home, and be together.
The monotony of day-to-day parenting can be exhausting. I travel to escape it as well as the daily grind of laundry, dishes, and the endless to-do list. When I’m away with my family, I don’t feel pulled away to tend to all those mundane tasks, and instead, I enjoy the time spent together as a family.
I do it because my kids always remember the fun we’ve had together.
Somehow they tune out all the stress of traveling, and they remember only the fun. When we get home, I hear them saying, “Remember that time we went to the beach last summer, and Mom let us eat ice cream for dinner?” “Remember that time you surprised us and told us we were going to Disney?” Or “Remember that time at Grandma’s house when we all dyed eggs together and had a giant Easter egg hunt?” I may not always remember the details, but they do.
I do it because even though it’s hard, it’s worth it. Always.
Without fail, I have that moment on every trip where I question whether it was worth it, but by the end of the trip, I always say to myself: That was worth it. It was worth the packing, the laundry, the sleepless nights, the late-night grocery store runs, the long car rides, the unpacking, etc. And then I’ll turn to my husband and say: So, where to next?
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