Pros and Cons of traveling with a toddler! Time to get real.
Time for some real talk.
Traveling with a toddler can be hard. It can be hard with both parents present, and can be ESPECIALLY hard by yourself. The question must be asked: is it worth it? Today I am breaking it down for anyone wondering.
CON: Toddler's don't care about traveling. I mean, they enjoy playing and running and being outside. They do not, however, care about monuments and museums and scenic views.
PRO: You begin to instill in them the desire to learn more about the world from a very young age. Children are taught more by your example than your words, and they will see and register your passion for life whether they "care" at this age or not. Also, this example of beauty and wonder and love for the world is much better (in my humble opinion) for them to "not care" about than television and video games. No matter what you are doing with your days, they likely "won't care" at this age, but they will note and remember and the way you live your life will make an impression on them one day when they do "care".
CON: Traveling makes a routine difficult to maintain. Kids thrive on having a schedule, and moving from place to place makes it difficult to maintain consistency in their day to day life.
PRO: They are learning flexibility and patience. These are not qualities we all have, even as adults. It can't hurt to allow your child the chance to learn that not everything goes as planned all the time, and that's okay!
CON: It can be exhausting, for you. They want to run and play and grab everything off the shelf of every store and don't want to nap because of all the fun they may miss out on and spill their snacks all over the car and throw tantrums in public places.
PRO: You will be a better parent because of it. My child has done all of the above listed things. When I first became a parent, I was PARANOID. I was worried about Maddux making messes, worried about being judged, worried about handling hard situations on my own. I was afraid of bothering people if my child had a meltdown in public. I was afraid to fly because I was afraid I couldn't handle my son on my own if he was upset during a flight. I have overcome (for the most part) ALL of these fears by simply going places with my son. I am so much more confident in my parenting. I am quick to react if he is upset in public, and know tricks to calm him down, but I do not do it while looking over my shoulder to see what people think about it. I am more patient with him and more patient with myself. My anxiety would soar if we were going to be late or there was a hiccup in the plans. Now I am so much quicker to take a deep breath, relax, and remember to not stress about things I can't control.
CON: It can be pricey.
PRO: We spend money on the things that are important to us, no matter what they are. If the principle "what you appreciate, appreciates" is true, then it will end up being to your benefit either way. Teaching your child to invest in experiences rather than things will help them be more content, less materialistic, and show them that time together is more valuable than "stuff".
CON: You won't be able to see things they way you would if you were visiting without your child.
PRO: You will see things in ways you never would have on your own. You may not be able to take quiet, leisurely strolls through the MET, but you will learn to appreciate things in different ways and from different perspectives. Your abilities will be stretched and your ability to take in the world around you will be enhanced. Seeing the world through the eyes of a child is an absolute blessing! They have such a love for the little things that you will realize just incredible the world really is.
My toddler and I (and sometimes dad) have been traveling and adventuring together for over a year now. I have found that the pros HANDS DOWN, ABOVE AND BEYOND, WITHOUT A DOUBT overshadow any cons I could ever think of. I have talked about my anxiety and depression, and how much this life has helped me to overcome them (read that blog post HERE). I couldn't imagine being as fulfilled as I currently am without all the places we've gone and experiences we have had. I try to always be transparent when we have hard times during our travels, but the good that comes from them always outweighs the bad. Now, go adventure!