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Stop Using Your Kids As an Excuse For Not Traveling

Photograph by Twenty20

Travel is expensive, a waste of time and totally lost on your kids. Not worth it at all.

Your kids won’t remember anything from your trips, you are spending money to listen to them whine, and they will only appreciate the world when they are teenagers. You are selfish to want to travel with your kids when they are young, so you shouldn’t bother doing it at all.

The teenage years, Grant Fellar claims in his September article in the Telegraph, are when families really should be traveling.

“Only now that my two children have become teenagers, we’ve started to splash out on holidays we think they’ll appreciate,” Fellar writes. He goes on to say, “Of course holidays are meant to broaden the mind as much as satiate our desire for life’s more prosaic pleasures. But you only really appreciate such hedonistic experiences in far-flung destinations—and understand their importance in the great tapestry of life—when you reach the teenage years. Before then, it’s wasted on them.”

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Because let’s face it: All of our teenagers are perfect, want to spend time with us, don’t have sports to play or friends they would rather hang out with when they are on vacation, instead of staying at home. Obviously Fellar’s children are outside of the norm when it comes to teenage life—or so he thinks.

Every mother I know with tweens and teens has told me to travel as much as possible before my boys hit junior high, because once the kids are invested in their sports teams and social lives, they will always opt to stay home rather than travel. It is easier to get your kid to a dentist than forcing them to skip a baseball playoff game when all you want to do is show them the eternal city of Rome.

My 'expensive foreign jaunts,' as Fellar likes to call them, are our family vacation and where we build incredible memories my boys love to share with their friends.

Fellar traveled as a boy and says, “I was simply too young to get the most out of such an expensive trip. It’s not that I am or ever was ungrateful, just that I now realize lavishing such luxurious travel experiences on children is supremely indulgent.”

Yes, traveling with kids is expensive. So what? Thousands of families go to Disney World every year, no matter if the parents enjoy their time or not. So if I can swing it, why can’t I bring my boys to Europe for a few weeks, show them some of my favorite sights, bribe them with ice cream and build lasting memories together as a family? Naturally, Fellar has an argument for this too.

“The dynamics of travelling with young children— wonderful though that shared time undoubtedly is—simply don’t lend themselves to expensive foreign jaunts," he argues. "Children are always inconveniently tired, have very little interest in culture, can’t walk longer than 45 minutes without needing sustenance and moan if burgers aren’t on the menu. And it’s fearsomely expensive to plonk them in hotel rooms where all they really want to do is watch TV.”

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My answer again to Fellar is “so what?” I’m a work-from-home mom. I am with my kids every day. I explore close to home, we go to the beach every summer with my husband’s family, and we do the things they love domestically. But we also do the things they love farther afield.

If you can parent your kids at home, you can parent them anywhere.

My “expensive foreign jaunts,” as Fellar likes to call them, are our family vacation and where we build incredible memories my boys love to share with their friends. My 4-year-old still talks about celebrating his birthday in Paris. I don’t prompt him to remember, we don’t talk about it every day, but he had his first ice-cream cone in Paris. That left a mark. He rode to the top of the Eiffel Tower. That left a mark on him, too. When we returned to Paris the summer after he turned 4, he was more excited than any of us.

Was it because of ice cream? Probably. But also because of those memories he had built.

Don’t accept the idea that kids aren’t worth traveling with when they are little.

It’s true, my kids get tired, they need to be fed often (although, as a mom burning calories while we explore, I’ll admit I need just as many, if not more, food stops as we wander). My boys have grown up traveling and tasting new foods. My boys would rather have dumplings and miso soup over chicken noodle. I exposed my kids to the foods I love, respect when they don’t like them, but I will not punish myself for expanding my kids palates beyond the American norm—just because some guy thinks all kids only want hamburgers when they travel.

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Fellar attacks parents for overindulging their children and their own personal interests in seeing the world. I say keep indulging your wanderlust and your kids’ interest in the world around them. When we do, we create children who have seen and embraced differences around them, kids who don’t take for granted what they have. Well-traveled kids praise the differences that too many in America fear.

Don’t accept the idea that kids aren’t worth traveling with when they are little. It shouldn't stop you. Your kids are not the reason you don’t travel.

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