It's incredible to see the world through the eyes of a child. However, as I type this, I am sitting in Hong Kong with a sick 4-year old daughter. We've been on the go in Asia for a good 10 days, with about 10 more days to go. We've been on planes, trains, taxis and ferries and it's no wonder that she picked up a stomach bug. I go on long holidays expecting that one of us might fall ill. I feel guilty, there's no doubt about it, but I still believe international travel is important. And, up until today, we all were having a blast. Here is why I do it:
- Kids can adapt: Travel has helped my daughter adapt to overall changes in her environment. She was a baby that required a very strict routine. As she's gotten older, travel has helped her to become more flexible, because she has to be. She bounced out of bed at 4am excited for our flight, whereas I needed 3 cups of coffee. She's great in hotels, can sleep on long haul flights, and fights jet lag like a champ.
- It's fun: I fill our itinerary with things we all want to do and space out activities so she is not overwhelmed or even worse, overtired.
- Language: There is something awesome about being in a hotel pool with not a single kid speaking the same language. Yet, they all seem to be able to play just fine together. Communication without speaking is something that I marvel at continuously, and I believe it's even more important today in our digital world.
- My attitude changes: When we are on a long holiday, I have no housework, no cooking to do, and a naturally lightened work load. She has my full attention. And you know what, she has been overall much less fussy and happier than we are at home. This is my lesson. I've learned on this trip that I can work (and should work) less. It's better for all of us.
- Learning: We get out the map now and talk about where we've been. We plan out where she'd like to go and why. I hope this makes her a more open minded person in the long run. It also has sparked an early interest in learning other languages. She was practicing with her mandarin CD (not forced) prior to our arrival in Asia. So I found a local mandarin playgroup that would take her on a drop in basis. She can't stop talking about how much fun it is.
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If you travel abroad with your kids, why do you do it and where have you been?
*Katie Dillon writes La Jolla Mom, an award winning lifestyle site about food, travel, parenting, homekeeping, and local happenings. She lives in La Jolla with her husband and preschool aged daughter, and is a proud member of the Yahoo! Mother Board.