Lucky for me, I was forced to fly long haul back to the U.S. with my Hong Kong-born daughter when she was just a month old and multiple times per year after that. Yes, there was anxiety, but I do believe that I was fortunate to be thrust out of my comfort zone early. Otherwise, I’m not sure I would be jetting around the world with her now and what I tragedy that would have been.
This is why I am such an advocate of flying with kids, even when they are babies. Having kids should never stand in the way of visiting family across the country or traveling to places on your bucket list. I go into more detail on the awesome Flights.com blog today about some of my more personal tips and tricks for traveling with my daughter and why exactly we do it but here are some darn good reasons why you should, too.
1. The Destination Is Worth the Journey
This is a mantra that I’ve been repeating to myself and my daughter for ages, especially on long haul flights. Sure, we get tired on planes and just want to arrive already. Babies cry and there might be a huge amount of stress involved in last-minute packing. The destination is (usually) worth whatever hassle and time spent en route. All you need to do is take a deep breath and just get there.
2. Airlines (Especially Foreign Ones) Can Be Kid-Friendly
British Airways provides a fun kids’ amenity pack. Lufthansa has a short movie about Bluey, a new airplane mascot. We’ve received a number of kids’ amenities on Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines–you can also reserve special kids’ meals on both of these fabulous airlines. Jarred baby food is also often provided on foreign airlines along with diaper packs. Small things like this add up. It’s amazing how a pack of stickers or a toy airplane can turn a frown upside-down.
3. Jet Lag Is Manageable
Sticking to a rigid routine that doesn’t involve napping nips jet lag in the bud for us. While we both are tired on the first day, sleep at night isn’t usually an issue. I have a ton of jet lag advice but, even if you do get it, see #1 above.
4. Travel Personalizes What’s in Their Books
Whether it’s a school textbook or a fiction short story, travel helps make things they read about relatable. We braved the heat of summer in Washington D.C. last summer to encourage my daughter’s interest in American history. My husband also once gave her an Olivia the Pig-style tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Get creative and they’ll value the lesson.
5. Kids Can Learn About Their Heritage
Wherever in the world you’re from, it’s possible to go there through food, museums or an actual visit. Ireland has resources specifically designed for families to trace their heritage in order to fill in gaps in family trees or find ancestral anecdotes. Part of the reason why we return to Hong Kong every year is that my daughter considers herself Chinese. And even though we’ve spent so much time there, I always find things to do in Hong Kong with kids we haven’t done before in order to teach her something new.
6. Travel Widens Their Horizons
I’m a firm believer that kids need to understand that life is different outside of their comfort zone. Skin colors are varied as is what people eat for breakfast. Show them enough of the world and they’ll become unphased by the differences as well as open to trying new things.
7. Digital Devices Keep Them Entertained
One of the reasons why family travel is on the rise has to be due to convenience provided by digital devices that can keep kids entertained while in-flight. Remember how awful it was to watch the one movie playing on the plane with those awful headphones? Those days are long gone. Not only do some airlines load their in-flight entertainment with family movies and more, but you can BYO on the iPad or portable DVD player.
8. Hotels Offer a Wide Range of Kid-Friendly Amenities
As I recently pointed out in tips for booking family-friendly luxury hotels, many hotels around the world offer strollers, baby-proofing, high chairs and other amenities to cut down on the amount of gear that parents have to travel with.
9. Memories Are More Valuable than Toys
Sure, my daughter can’t remember a trip to Bangkok we took when she was 1. But, she knows she’s been there and recently became interested in Thai food because I happen to mention the trip a few months ago. I haven’t done a spectacular job of organizing our trip photos, but it is my intention to get better at is so she can have them when she gets older and I am gone.
10. Because You Only Live Once
YOLO, my friends. This is my own mantra because I have a long list of places I’d like to take my daughter. If I can tick a good chunk of them off the list before my time is up, I leave this world a happy camper.
Don’t forget to stop by their blog to read my interview.