Giving the Gift of Travel
Memories last forever. It’s a cliché usually printed over inspirational Instagram photographs, but it’s also true. As a family with three kids under age 10, we’ve taken it to heart. And we’ve done so with travel.
Unlike many friends who choose to travel the world non-stop with their kids—which I greatly respect—we’ve opted to keep a home base. The kids have stability, attend a fantastic school and have formed friendships. Then we squeeze in a few trips throughout the year. Doing so means the kids learn it’s always fun to go away, and it’s always great to come back home. Here’s how we manage to give our kids the gift of travel.
We minimize other gift-giving.
We don’t give many presents for Christmas, made easier by previous Christmases where the kids received toys that never lived up to the TV commercials. They matured quickly, not asking for much other than a few things – the occasional LEGO set, books, stuffed animals, the usual. So we’ve made Christmas especially about family and not about shopping.
We’ve also done the same with birthdays. Our kids have never wanted friend-oriented birthday parties, and they put a few small items on their Amazon wish lists. We celebrate simply: eating cake among family.
As well, we incorporate birthdays into our travel when we can. This is typically my youngest daughter’s birthday, since it falls over a school break. For example, two years ago she turned 4 in Bora Bora. This year she turned five in Mexico. And for her 6th birthday? She’ll be on safari in Kenya. Talk about not needing any presents to top that!
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So pleased to have stumbled across your blog as the gift of travel is exactly what I want to give my children! I have 4 (aged 9, 4, 3 and 1) and am a single mum based in the UK. I’m currently saving for a two month trip to OZ and NZ in a few years time and we’re heading to France for two weeks in the summer this year. I want to do more though but while I have a half decent budget it probably wouldn’t stretch to more than one or two trips a year. I was however thinking of looking at house swapping, is this something you think you would recommend? It would mean not necessarily being able to plan ahead but it would be free accommodation. Our house is big and in quite a desirable location.
Also have you ever flown with all 3 little ones on your own? I’m a bit worried about doing it with mine without a second adult just yet (we’re driving to France)
Eric Stoen says
Hi Louise. Per your question on house-swapping, we’ve never done it, but it’s supposed to be a great way to save money and live like a local. I’ve heard good things from others who have used homeexchange.com. As with anything in the sharing economy, I’m sure some people have had negative experiences and come home to damage, but I would think it’s worth trying.
Yes, I’ve flown with all three kids by myself – at 2, 4 and 6 I believe. I found it fairly easy for a 4-hour flight, since the kids had electronics, and the 6-year-old was a big help. The only problem was that when we landed two of them were asleep. So I had to let most others exit the plane while I woke up the kids – with a carry-on or two I was only able to carry one through the airport. If you time the flight so that ideally you won’t have more than one fall asleep, it will make it easier!
This is great. My kids (3 and almost 6) asked if we could start doing this instead of gifts (not that they got much as it was!). They decided they really wanted to take vacations instead of getting things that they get tired or bored of quickly. My daughter even suggested for birthdays maybe a walk in the park and go for hot chocolate as she thought that would be the best birthday ever (she is our oldest). The kids got to take their first trip aside from camping across Canada and parts of the USA (smoky mountains, nashville, northeastern US – New York state to Maine) to Hawaii this spring after saving up and a move across the country. They are actively building their bucket lists, my daughter is mostly fixated on restaurants as she loves to watch mind of a chef while my son who is 3 just kind of follows along with what big sisters says!
Eric Stoen says
That’s great Katy! I’d highly recommend cooking classes and food tours when you travel – it’s a great chance for your kids (and you) to try some local specialties and then learn to make them. My kids are amazing eaters, and pretty good cooks, as a result.
We completely agree and do exactly the same with our children when it comes to birthdays and Christmas gifts. We always say that they don’t remember what they received for Christmas five years ago but they know every detail of the trips they took!
Eric Stoen says