As a parent it’s one of the hardest questions you face when thinking about vacations; whether you should bring the kids or not. Is it worth the extra baggage, the extra hassle, the extra money that it will cost you to bring them along? Should you feel guilty for leaving them at home? Should you be exposing them to different cultures around the world? Should you take time out for a romantic vacation without the kids? While we’re certainly no experts on whether or not you should take your kids on vacation, as parents and fellow travelers ourselves, we thought we would lay out all the pros and cons for you; and let you make that choice.
The Pro’s of Taking the Kids:
#1 Remember when you were little and your parents left you to do something fun for the first time? You probably got really mad at the time, stomped your feet and said “no fair”. That feeling surfaces as we become parents when we think about leaving our children behind; especially for more than just a few hours. One of the pro’s of taking your kids on vacation is that you won’t have that feeling; the feeling of guilt that you are leaving them and that you are going off to do something fun without them. Because let’s face it vacations are fun. Bringing the kids along you are ensuring that they don’t feel left behind, that they feel included in your life and that they will always remember you took them places.
#2 When you take your kids with you on vacation you can go places that you might not go as an adult. As adults we forget what it is like to have as much fun as children and going down that waterslide because your 5 year old won’t go alone may just be the most fun you’ve had in ages. Children encourage us to have more fun. Knowing that you are bringing your children on vacation will have you planning more child friendly things to see and do; water parks, animal encounters, Walt Disney World, and amusement parks are just a few examples. Forget the spas and the laying around on a beach all day sunbathing; these kids need to stay busy and having a family vacation ensures a whole lot of fun for everyone.
#3 Family vacations and travel make incredible memories that your kids will never forget. They may forget what they did at school earlier in the day but we guarantee you they won’t forget the time you hiked to the waterfalls with them and they got to cannonball in. Going outside of their comfort zones creates lasting memories that they will hopefully share with their own children one day. You don’t need to travel to Disney World to create these memories either. They will come from road trips where you got lost, from plane rides over the ocean, from tiny hotel rooms that you stayed in, to the waterslide at the hotel pool. Kids love adventure and by taking them on vacation you are giving them the adventure they crave; and they won’t forget it.
#4 Opening your children’s eyes to different cultures, languages and ways of life is an invaluable lesson you can teach them; starting at a young age. Showing them first hand that not everyone lives in the same climate, the same houses, the same equality will stick with them for a lifetime. Children learn by doing and taking them places where they can actually experience a different way of life is far more valuable than reading about it in a book. Showing them the places that exist in the world that they may want to live in one day, explaining to them that they have the whole world to explore is a valuable lesson they will carry with them. Teaching them to read maps, ask for help, be polite and accepting are all taught on these family vacations.
The Con’s of Taking the Kids:
#1 One word….money. Everything costs more now including hotel rooms, flights, food and admission to all those attractions you are planning on seeing. Why waste the thousands of dollars you are going to pay taking your kids on vacation when you know they won’t really care whether the piece of art was created in 1840 or 1940. The fact is that taking your children on vacation can be very expensive. From eating out all the time to the souvenirs you know they’re going to beg for, you will be wondering in no time why you ever thought to bring them along. Add in the extra cost for flights if you are flying somewhere, the extra luggage you will have to pay for and all the new games and books you are going to need to keep them occupied and your total trip cost just tripled.
#2 Let’s be open and honest here and admit that all kids really seem to care about is the hotel swimming pool. They may think it’s cool that they get to go to a new city with things they haven’t seen before but by midday they will be begging to go back to the hotel room and swim. Like it or not; kids just don’t have the same attention span we as adults do. Nothing is worse than shelling out a large amount of money to take them to some history rich place only to have them uninterested in everything you see and do. Parents often make the mistake of assuming their children will just tag along to “grown-up” places and expect them to behave. WRONG. Leave the children at home if this is the case. They will not appreciate it, they will make it less enjoyable for you and frankly they will have a better time at home playing with their friends. If your vacation is not “child friendly” and you suspect your kids won’t enjoy it as much as you; the choice is clear.
#3 There is no time for Romance when you are traveling with your kids; none, zero, zip. More than likely you are all crammed into one hotel room or one state room on a cruise ship or perhaps you are lucky enough to have a divider. Either way you can plan on having zero alone time with your partner. Family vacations stick the family together for the whole time. Parents need alone time too and taking a vacation without the kids is the perfect opportunity to reconnect. The chance to unwind, relax and do activities that you can’t do at home. Take a winery tour, sip champagne under the stars, sunbathe on the beach all day, snowshoe in the mountains; all with the comfort in knowing your kids are happily at home basking in the attention of grandma and grandpa.
#4 One of the best reasons to travel without your kids is to show them that it’s okay to have independence. Going away without them will show them that you trust them, that you care about them and that it is completely normal to do this. Children crave independence and we aren’t suggesting leaving your child alone at 8 years old to go on vacation but giving them responsibilities when you are away will bring them a greater sense of importance. Letting them be responsible for packing their lunches or making sure their homework is done while you are gone will show them that you believe in them. Teaching them that when you are a grown-up and you work hard you can reward yourself with things like vacations, or showing them that parents getting to have fun without their kids is perfectly acceptable.
The debate will rage on for many centuries we are sure of that. Whether or not to take your children on vacation is an entirely personal choice and only you know what is best for your family. Whether you choose to visit Disney World with or without the kids; we support you. Go on then; get out there and see the world however which way it pleases you!
Like this? Check out The Best Family Cruises for 2015