Have Toddler, Will Travel

As Saint Augustine so aptly noted:

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.

Me? I’m at the top of page two, and that may be stretching it a bit. I’m quite content and happy with my life, but I certainly recognize that traveling, especially at a young age, would have broadened me considerably and opened up whole new worlds of thought and understanding.

I think it’s great for youngsters to travel, early and often. They will then be more apt to be less judgmental, more socially and culturally aware, and consider themselves citizens of the world.

That’s why I liked this essay I read on Mamapedia Voices, a website featuring posts from up-and-coming mom bloggers and well-known mom experts. So pack up those stuffed animals and start surfing travelocity!

by Kaamna Bhojwani-Dhawan

It’s a question that’s often been posed to me: why do you travel so much? Doesn’t your son get unsettled?

Unsettled? Me, maybe, not him.

I think through all the reasons not to travel: cost (especially now that he’s 2), the inconvenience, the discomfort, the glaring non-parental passengers on planes, and think that’s it’s a fair question.

I travel with my son because unlike many people, I don’t think there is one “best” country – I think every city, every nook and corner of the world has something special to offer and you will miss it if you don’t care to look. And yes, the internet is a great source of information, but it’s like eating a virtual dinner at El Bulli – how do you truly experience the wonder without touching, tasting, smelling it for yourself? That’s why I travel with my son, so he will be able to visit a third world country and see beyond just the poverty and despair to the wealth and beauty that reveals itself to eyes that want to see.

I travel with my son so he truly learns to appreciate diversity, not in the way we give it lip service today by being “PC”, but by being respectful, and asking questions, and coming from a place of genuine interest rather than preformed assumptions. I want him to learn that Chinese people eat with chopsticks, and Indian people eat with their hands, and Mexicans wrap everything up in little tortillas and you should try in every culture to do as the locals, because unsurprisingly, that’s how the food tastes best.

I travel with my son because I want him to be flexible, to try anything once, and to never be hindered by a fear of the unknown. At the age of 2, he will sleep anywhere, eat anything, and adapt to new locations and cultures faster than I will. That kind of adaptability will hold him in good stead personally, professionally, and wherever he is in the world as an adult. Can you imagine how liberating that would be?

I travel with my son because it’s fun to see him marvel at gigantic structures in Tokyo, play with handcrafted wooden puppets in Prague, and dance to Māori beats in New Zealand. As adults, we tend to adopt an air of superiority, as if we are too cool to stare in wonder, too composed to clap our hands and squeal in delight. Traveling with children you can’t help but participate and when you do, you truly experience. So some of this is for me.

I travel with my son because there is a high a price to be paid for ignorance today. We are all interconnected by a shrinking world, by pervasive technology and unrestricted information flows. If we don’t create a generation of unprejudiced, exposed and culturally aware global citizens, we have sorely failed in our job as parents.

That’s why I travel with my son.

Kaamna Bhojwani-Dhawan is the founder of Momaboard.com, an online community for globe-trotting babies and their parents. Join the community for practical tips, global city guides, deals and a network of like-minded parents.

Click here to view all my posts about parenting.


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