How old is too young to travel? Well, at least get the kids out of diapers! So says Maureen Wheeler of Lonely Planet guidebook fame who also thinks kids should be able to eat table food and talk before you bother taking them anywhere really special, unless it’s a Disney cruise. That makes for much less trouble for the parents. According to Ms. Wheeler, ages 7 to10 is the minimum age for children to accompany you on a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
I don’t remember everything about my own childhood family vacation trips, but the photos bring back bits of memories and feelings that I now treasure, like donkeys sticking their rather scary big heads through our car window in the Black Hills of South Dakota, or how chipmunks put their paws in our hamster’s cage looking for sunflower seeds when we camped in Estes Park, Colorado, how showers of shooting stars arced across the night sky out in the wilderness. I remember how great it was to spend a lot of time seeing and doing cool stuff with my parents—and even with my little sister.
Traveling is an important way to teach kids about different cultures, different lifestyles, and different environments whether you are discovering the land of Africa or busy, cosmopolitan New York City or the steamy geysers at Yellowstone. Starting kids out exploring at a young age teaches them flexibility and acceptance and may instill a sense of adventure and excitement, instead of fear and apprehension, at the thought of something new. It might spark a sense of curiosity and a love of learning. And all that goes for grown-ups, too.
See http://www.takingthekids.com/ by travel columnist Eileen Ogintz for great travel tips