We can all think of reasons why family travel is good for our kids. But how often do you step back and consider why family vacation is important for parents? I want to take a moment in this post to reflect on the importance of family vacation to you, and how you can benefit from traveling with your little ones.
Parents are people too (wait, what?!). It’s true, though it’s easy to lose ourselves in the day-to-day of parentings. But we are all, in our own way, trying to stay connected to the passions and hobbies we had before kids.
For me, the thing I most want to share with my kids — and continue to enjoy myself — is travel.
I know other parents feel the same, which is why I launched Mango Tree Travel: to encourage family travel, and make it just a little bit easier.
There’s no question that traveling with kids can be hard. It can be expensive, and tiring. So, we sometimes shy away from it. Some days it takes an enormous amount of brain power just to remember where my coffee is, let alone handle the logistics of a family vacation.
But family holidays are worth the effort. Even more so when we think of family trips not just as something we do for our kids’ benefit, but as something that’s important to parents too.
So, when you’re trying to decide whether to book that next trip, consider these 6 reasons why family vacation is important. We hope it helps you take the plunge!
If it’s the planning that stresses you out, head on over to our travel planning services page and let us take something off your plate.
1. Family Vacation Is Important Because You Can Keep Traveling
Many of us look back fondly on our pre-kid adventures – solo trips, weekends away with friends, vacations as newlyweds. Travel – like lots of other hobbies – may seem like something we have to limit when we become parents because it’s simply too hard to pull off.
However, if we find good and affordable ways to include the whole family in our travel plans – and bring our kids with us to the places that we want to visit – it means we can travel more. And we can remember that we haven’t totally lost ourselves by becoming parents.
2. You’ll Gain A New Perspective By Traveling Differently
When we travel with kids, we are forced to move at a slower pace. Sometimes that feels great. After our first trip to California with the kids, my husband commented that the highlight of his day was spending an hour throwing rocks in a river.
So what if we saw fewer wineries than we would have on a kid-free trip? We spent quality time together, outside our home, and made new memories. Given the chance to do the trip over, I wouldn’t change a thing.
With kids in tow, we also find ourselves doing some cheesy tourist activities that we might otherwise have rolled our eyes at. Take our family vacation to Cartagena, where we rode a horse and buggy around town not just once, but twice. It was our daughter’s favorite part of the trip but I won’t pretend I didn’t enjoy it.
(And even if I tried to lie about it, you can tell from my face in the photo below that I’m into it.)
Or, in St. Thomas, when my daughter looked across the sea and suggested we take a day trip to Water Island. I probably would have skipped that activity traveling on my own, but it turned out to be a fantastic day in the Caribbean.
3. Its Important To Enjoy Parenting Away From Your Daily Routine
Traveling with my kids reminds me why I enjoy being a parent – which I really believe, in turn, makes me a better mom. When we are in the daily grind, there are a lot of days when parenting feels like more work than fun (sometimes a lot more).
We spend most of our daily life making sure family members are where they need to be, with their teeth and hair brushed, stomach full, clothes clean. Between managing the household and managing a career, I, for one, often feel like I am just too busy to put down my phone to enjoy a moment of family time playing with my kids at the end of each day. I am not always as patient as I want to be, and I don’t always pay enough attention to the little things that are important to my young children (…like which princess dress is her favorite this week…).
When I travel, I am the best version of myself (as a person, and as a parent). I know lots of you feel the same way. And that is an incredibly important thing to remember about family vacations.
Take, for example, our trip to the off-the-beaten path island of Bequia. The airline lost all my kids’ luggage (baby formula, swimsuits, sun gear, the one toy we packed…). We managed it without a freak-out. The baby hung out in his diaper. My daughter wore my shirt as a dress until we found her some clothes. If something like this happened at home, we might panic. But instead, we happily spent time together exploring the shops on the island.
We can reconnect to parenting through travel, often in ways we don’t expect.
4. Family Vacations Offer A Chance To Share The Things You Love With Your Kids
One of the best parts of being a parent is watching our children experience the things in life that we love. (Because, let’s be honest, what’s more fun than getting to relive a favorite thing through the eyes of a kid doing it for the first time?) Family vacations can be full of those moments!
Whether we love outdoor activities, seeing new cities, or relaxing on the beach – we can share it all with our kids through travel. And did you know that watching our kids learn new things contributes to our own well-being. A new study about the benefits of family travel showed that parents’ overall well-being is positively impacted when children develop skills through travel. [efn_note] Miyakawa and Oguchi, Family tourism improves parents’ well-being and children’s generic skills (February 2022, Tourism Management 88:104403). [/efn_note]
One of parenting highlights was taking our daughter to our favorite Caribbean island, Grenada, where my husband and I spent time before getting married.
And on our trip to Bequia Beach Hotel in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, we took our daughter snorkeling with us for the first time. She was so eager to be part of the adventure. I don’t know whether it was a highlight of her trip, but it certainly was of mine.
5. Families Get Travel Perks!
Believe it or not, some things about travel are better when we’ve got kids in tow.
For starters, in a lot of countries around the world – not the U.S., but don’t get me started – families get to jump to the front of the line at immigration. We also often find that we get to know the staff at our hotel better with kids, which improves the travel experience overall. Kids help us strike up conversations with other travelers, where we might learn a travel tip or two about our destination.
Plus, we get to eat more ice cream. On our very hot family trip to Cartagena, we had popsicles from La Paleteria every single day. And on a recent scouting trip to the Bahamas, ice cream for lunch was a regular occurrence. Blame it on the kids.
6. Your Kids Will Love You For It
Nowadays, as our kids are getting older, they get just as excited for family vacations as we do. Our daughter has learned that family adventures are a special thing we do together, and she usually can’t wait to find out whether she’ll get to sleep in a bunk bed, or swim in a new pool.
Traveling is one big learning experience for them. Spending time in a new place encourages curiosity and a sense of adventure. Kids learn about different cultures, foreign cuisines, and new languages. Travel teaches our kids to step outside their comfort zone and roll with the punches: meet new people, make new friends, acclimate to new spaces, and handle the unexpected.
There’s hardly a better feeling than when one of our children throws their arms around our neck because we’ve given them an awesome experience. We feel good because they feel good, and everyone benefits.
Are there other benefits to family travel I’m forgetting?
If we’ve encouraged you to pack those bags and take that trip — which I hope we have — then jump on that momentum and use our search filters to find the perfect Caribbean hotel for your next family trip.