I used to think that travelling with my kids was just something that other people did. I figured we’d stick to the familiar and safe, going out of town only when our favourite soccer team came to play. Then we did it—we took our 2- and 3-year-old girls on a trip across the ocean. We spent two weeks exploring Switzerland, France, and Italy, and it changed everything for us as a family. Here’s why:
When kids are really young, they are really adaptable.
When kids are really young, they are really adaptable. We often think of babies and toddlers as sensitive creatures that need routine, but when you think about it for a minute, it makes sense that they could adjust quickly. Kids have spent their whole lives up until this point adapting to different environments, people and experiences. It’s not like they know what they’re going into when they enter a new country/city/state/school etc., so there is no reason they can’t just roll with the punches and get used to whatever comes next.
Some benefits of travelling with young kids include:
- There are fewer expenses involved since their needs are pretty basic
- You don’t have to worry about them ordering expensive meals at restaurants (or having expensive tastes) because their diet hasn’t been established yet!
We exposed our kids to a different culture and learned how to say “thank you” in three languages: English, French and German.
We exposed our kids to a different culture and learned how to say “thank you” in three languages: English, French and German. They also learned to follow the rules of the road (keep right), enjoy fine dining out (French toast) and appreciate that even adults will occasionally lose their minds (when we found our car keys).
Traveling with our kids helped us form a bond we’ll all remember forever.
Our kids were two and three when we took them to Switzerland, which meant that we had a lot of time together. Instead of spending all our days’ sightseeing, we took a train from Bern to Interlaken. Once there, we visited Lauterbrunnen Valley with its famous Trummelbach Falls—a beautiful waterfall that flows through tunnels in the mountainside. We then spent the next few days hiking and exploring the area before heading back to Bern.
Travelling with our kids helped us form a bond we’ll never forget—one that will last long after they’ve left home!
We learned that making plans for rain made us happy when it was sunny and prepared when it wasn’t.
I learned that it’s better to be prepared for the worst-case scenario than to be disappointed when things don’t happen as planned. I also learned that it’s better to learn from your mistakes and move on, rather than dwell on them or allow them to ruin your trip. We were really fortunate in our time in Switzerland because we didn’t encounter any bad weather at all during our time there. We had one rainy day, but it was short-lived and not enough of an issue for us as adults, let alone two young children who weren’t used to being out in the elements (or not having access to their favourite toys).
The only thing that I would change about this trip if I could do it again would pack more clothes for myself since I tend not to wear shorts or skirts very often because of my job as a writer/blogger; however, dressing more appropriately isn’t something I regret doing either, so all’s well that ends well! That said, if you’re travelling with kids around this age and feel like they’d benefit from extra clothing options, then maybe consider bringing along some additional items just in case?
They loved seeing the lake, the mountains, and the cows — even though there were no playgrounds.
They loved seeing the lake, the mountains and the cows — even though there were no playgrounds.
They ran up, and down those hills like it was a playground!
They got to see real live cows from Canada that don’t look like this at home (and they were all over our hotel grounds).
At this age, they’re most likely going to remember the stories you read them more than they’re going to remember the sights they saw.
I’m sure you’ve read the statistics that say that children under five will remember more of their experiences through stories than they will by seeing them.
It’s true. At this age, they’re most likely going to remember the stories you read them more than they’re going to remember the sights they saw. They’re also at an age where they can understand and appreciate different kinds of stories: fairy tales, myths, fables…you name it! So if you want your trip with your kids to be memorable (and not just for all those pictures on Instagram), make sure that there’s plenty of time spent reading aloud and telling stories!
Our trip provided an opportunity to teach them about responsibility.
As you plan your own family trip, the most important takeaway is that you should go with no expectations. We did not know how our kids would react to a new place, and we were pleasantly surprised by how adaptable they were.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Dr. Marianne van den Bree, who studied children’s development in different countries around the world, found that kids aged 2-6 can deal with stress well; they respond to new situations by exploring and testing their surroundings rather than panicking or falling apart.
It’s true that sometimes my husband and I questioned our sanity as we took on another hiking trail with two small children in tow (our older daughter was only 3 years old at the time). But overall, our trip provided an opportunity to teach them about responsibility—and learn some lessons ourselves!
I hope these tips help you plan your own family trip. If you have any more questions, please ask in the comments section below!