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Why travel with kids? Because it opens up their world

Family in RomeTara Collins has followed her mother’s lead and with her husband Paul has exposed her young children to the world.

My mother has always been a traveller and she believed that exposing her children to the world when we were young was a good idea. There were many trips that we took together but it was a trip we took to Tokyo, Beijing and Hong Kong in 1982 when I was 12 and my brother was 11 that was an amazing experience because everything was so different from life at home. It encouraged me to take risks and venture outside what I know.

Travel has given me an international education, both formal and informal. I went to the University of London in England for my PhD instead of staying in Canada. When I needed to go to South Africa to conduct research, it was an incredibly enriching and educational experience. My husband has been on sabbaticals in Australia, France and Italy and I was pregnant and experienced prenatal care in the first two countries and in Ireland. Boys at Kilkenny Castle, IrelandI accepted a fellowship at University College in Dublin for 6 months and moved there with our two young boys until my husband joined us there. Then we moved to France for his work where our third son was born. The older boys still talk about their big adventure in Dublin, Toulouse and Rome.

We have done a lot of travel with our boys and people say, “Why bother. They are never going to remember seeing x, y, z.” These people fail to see what travel gives you. It’s not as if you have a photographic memory where you carry what you’ve seen for the rest of your life. It’s being exposed to different cultures, to different ways of seeing things and communicating. It’s about meeting people and having time together outside the everyday routine. All of those things travel gives us.
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What can scare parents travelling with young children is not having control over everything. But that’s life whether you are “safe” at home or elsewhere. There will always be things that you’re going to have to deal with, whether it is health issues or a missed bus. Patrick born in Lavaur, FranceThe benefits you gain from travel so outweigh the difficulties that may come up from time to time. If you worry too much about how to make it all happen then that can be a huge impediment. Sometimes you just have to decide to pursue an opportunity even if you’re not quite sure how it will all work out. It is amazing how things can fall together once you make the decision to go.

Children can travel well as long as you prepare well, support them in that travel and know what their needs are. The whole experience can be a huge gift for your children and for the entire family.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Photo credits Tara Collins

© Riding the buses 2011

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