What Travelling With My Kids Taught Me

By Jenny Tai, 06 April 2019 404

Even before we had children, my husband and I both loved travelling. It was a big part of what we loved about life and we thought that having kids should not stop us from enjoying what we loved. We wanted to share this love of adventure with them. 

Two kids later, we’ve discovered that travelling with them was not as hard as we thought. By the time our youngest was three, we had travelled as a family to New York, London, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Bali and Jakarta, with several road trips in Taiwan and Malaysia along the way. It was different but still fun; challenging at times, but incredibly rewarding. What I did not expect was all the things I learnt from my kids during our travels.  
 

1. Travelling with children is worth it. 


 
Image: Jenny Tai

“Aren’t your children too young to really appreciate the place? Is it really worth it if they probably won’t remember these travels later anyway?”

While several relatives have expressed these opinions, my husband and I feel differently. We believe that it is never too early to expose our kids to different cultures, languages, people, tastes, smells, sounds and sights. Each new place leaves impressions that help shape the people our children become. 

Travelling with kids fosters a sense of exploration, adaptability, and independence in them – all of which can help them become better global citizens and benefit them in the long-run. To us, this makes travelling with kids worth it. 
 

2. Memories make better gifts than things. 


 
Image: Jenny Tai

When we travel with children, it brings us out of our usual family routine to create unique memories together. There is the saying, “Gift experiences, not things.” Our family truly believes in this because whenever we give our children new toys or material objects, the appeal always wears off eventually. A travel experience, on the other hand, is like a gift that keeps on giving. It not only transports us, but immerses us in a new world where we can create unforgettable memories as a family to be cherished over and over again. 

Creating travel memories also deepens our family’s relationship. Even after we are back at home, we continue to bond over “Do you remember that time in…?” moments, especially when we look at our travel photos and videos. 

We also encourage our kids to document the trips for themselves so that they can feel and see things on their own. They like to take Polaroid pictures of everything, from a double-decker bus in London to the deer in Nara Park, or draw in their travel pads. Reminiscing on these memories together feels even more special when we see things through our children’s eyes. 

My husband and I are also aware that these travel memories are gifts to ourselves as much as they are for our kids. When our kids are grown up, we will still have these memories of our family adventures to hold onto. 
 

3. Be flexible when travelling with kids. 


 
Image: Jenny Tai

Whenever people ask about how to travel with kids, “Be flexible” is the first thing that comes to mind. Delays, getting lost, disrupted nap schedules (hello, jetlag), unpredictable weather – all of these can happen. Some things are simply out of your control. Buying travel insurance helps us prepare for unforeseen circumstances and travel inconveniences. Otherwise, we try to remain flexible and look for the silver lining when things don’t go as planned. 

Kids waking up at dawn due to the time difference? Not ideal, but it could be turned into an opportunity instead. We have learned that rather than trying (always unsuccessfully) to force our kids back to sleep, it is better to take advantage of the early hours and go for a family stroll before the rest of the city wakes up. 

Meanwhile, a missed subway stop could turn into a spontaneous exploration of a cool neighbourhood. Staying on-course 100% doesn’t always allow for inspired discoveries. Travelling with kids has taught me not to be so strict on itineraries, and to embrace change as a good thing.  
 

4. Kids deserve more credit than we often give them. 


 
Image: Jenny Tai

Who said that parents have to do all the prep work? Kids can contribute to the planning. I have realised that involving my kids in the preparation stage is a great way to teach them to contribute and take ownership of how they want to explore a new place. Even young kids can answer questions about what they want to do and see and eat. 

Based on our kids’ suggestions, we got to experience the Royal Melbourne Show, ice skate at the Tower of London Ice Rink, go strawberry-picking at a remote farm in Chiayi, and feed more baby lambs, goats and alpacas than we ever thought we would in our adult life. I have learned that kids definitely deserve more credit as our travel partners and that their ideas are worth considering. Their contributions have made our trips all the richer. They have taught me that even “kids’ activities” can be fresh and fun for grown-ups too. 
 

5. Simpler is better. 


 
Image: Jenny Tai

I used to be an over-packer until travelling with kids turned me into a minimalist by default. Kids demand a lot of attention, which means that everything else needs to be simplified, luggage included. Why spend more time folding, packing and keeping track of more socks than you need? Travel light, be resourceful with what you have, and remember that less is more. 

The mantra, “simpler is better” reaches far beyond just “packing light.” It also means finding simple solutions, opting for simpler schedules, and maintaining a simple yet positive outlook because things can get chaotic quickly when you have little travellers under your wing.
 

6. Patience, patience, patience. 


 
Image: Jenny Tai

The “go-go-go” mentality is not always compatible with kids. Their legs cannot walk at our pace. They dislike waiting in queues even more than we do. Their favourite question on buses, airplanes, and anytime, anywhere is, “Are we there yet?” 

Again and again on our travels, I have to remind myself to be patient and answer their questions; to be patient when I’m queuing up with them; to be patient and walk at a slower pace. But along the way, a sort of transformation has taken place and I have mellowed out a bit. Plus, no longer rushing meant I got to experience some joyful perks (more ice cream breaks!). As I take the time to savour seeing things through their perspective, I get to enjoy little moments and details that I would have otherwise missed. Had I been rushing, I would have missed the ice cream breaks. 
 

7. Live in the moment. 


 
Image: Jenny Tai

Lastly, travelling with kids has taught me to live in the moment. It means embracing the occasional chaos and meltdowns (because young children will still get grumpy no matter if they are in Singapore or Rome). It means soaking up a new place alongside my loved ones and perhaps getting a bit lost along the way. It means savouring the closeness and intimacy of sleeping in one hotel room as a family. It means squeezing my husband’s hand when everything goes according to plan and when things do not go according to the plan, because we are a team and we have each other to count on. 


While travelling with kids can come with some challenges, it is endlessly rewarding. With our kids depending on us, we buy travel insurance to make sure we are prepared for anything. As parents, we are responsible for our children, and this feeling is amplified even more when we travel. It is a huge stress-reliever to know that our family is covered for unforeseen travel hiccups, including unavoidable delays and loss of belongings. Travel insurance gives us peace of mind during our family adventures, allowing us to truly live in the moment. 


    

Important Notes:
This article is meant purely for informational purposes and should not be relied upon as financial advice. The precise terms, conditions and exclusions of any Income products mentioned are specified in their respective policy contracts. For customised advice to suit your specific needs, consult an Income insurance advisor.

This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. 

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