As you read these entries, you will find that many of these rules will piggy-back from the preceding rule and rule #2 is no exception. If you recall rule #1; start early and often, rule #2 is in the same spirit as rule #1, but it focuses more on adaptation. Adapting your kids to travel relies solely on you as the parent, and kids being the sponges they are, they will adapt. More and more studies show that the first four years of your child’s development will establish their demeanor for the rest of their lives, so the first four years are truly the most adaptable years, so take advantage.
Adaptation is the key word of the second rule, not just for your kids, but for you. Many parents, the moment they have kids, their entire world changes to the extent that the parents lose their identity in their children’s lives. So the question to ask yourself is, “Do I want to adapt my life to my child’s, or do I want my child’s life to adapt to mine?” My wife and I were always of the mindset of the latter; meaning our child should adapt to our lifestyle, because after all, we’re the parents, we’re the adults, and we should be the ones to provide proper guidance, so it will behoove us (and our child) to take point. Take the lead and the children will follow, because it’s about making your kids adaptable, but you need to show confidence. That’s important because kids pick up on that sort of thing. So, Rule #2 for traveling with kids…If you want to go, then go. Remember, it’s your world, and your kids are living in it, and if you have been blessed with wanderlust gene, exposing your kids to the same wanderlust is a wonderful thing, but you must take point, hence this second rule. Don’t wait for your kids to decide, because you will be waiting for a long time, and you never know what curve balls life will throw at you that will prevent you from pursuing your travels, so seize the day, because fortune favors the bold. Before our son was born, my wife and I agreed that just because we were to be parents, doesn’t mean that we must lose our individual identity and enjoy the things we enjoy, like travel, because we believe that travel is an enrichment of life. Besides, you’ll never know what cool stuff you and your family may encounter during your travels, unless you just go. For example, on one of our travels, we were able to stop at Four Corners and get a fun picture of our eight month old in four states at once. A memory that my wife will always cherish. I think it was Yvon Chouinard (founder of Patagonia) that said it best, and he said, “Yeah, you can read books, but there’s nothing like just going there.”
I remember our first road trip as a family. Our son was nine months old, and my wife and I were getting the proverbial traveling ants-in-the-pants. We were feeling the need to go somewhere, because we were bitten by the wanderlust bug. It was the first weekend of spring, winter was subsiding and our winter skin was shedding. We needed a place to go. My wife had never gone camping, and I romanticized the idea enough that my wife was now dead-set on going camping so we decided to take a road trip to Zion National Park. We wanted to go, so we went with child in tow. Just like that. “Our son is in our world, he’s just living in it.”, has been the motto from day one.
I understand that for most parents, traveling with little ones can seem daunting, but it all boils down to what Alan Watts would call desire. If travel is something that you and your spouse desire, then travel. Be confident in your choice, take the lead, and everything else will fall into place. Your children will not only adapt, but will pick up on your confidence of choice which will lay the foundation of “this is what we do” as a tribe, and lay the groundwork to adaptation. Keep in mind that traveling with kids is a journey without destination, hence the need to start early and often, because you want to go. Kids are far more adaptable than we give them credit. Their sense of curiosity and adventure will supersede that of most adults because they haven’t been corrupted by fears or “what ifs”. They truly are free and will adapt to just about anything.