Untourist and author Janet McCrea Dieman shares her travel adventures here. She has shared the Swiss Untour and other travels with her grandchildren. All grandkids should be this lucky!
You may be thinking about taking children or grandchildren to Europe and wondering what the best age is to plan a trip.
Most people conclude it is better to wait until the teen years so the children can benefit more fully. The logic is older children understand and remember more.
I reached the same conclusion until a life changing experience forced me to reconsider. My grandson was three years old at the time. I did not hesitate because of his age. Planning started immediately.
If you’ve considered traveling with toddlers and concluded they are too young to benefit from an international trip, think again.
Consider what a three-year-old has mastered with no formal “schooling.” By the age of three a child has learned to talk, to communicate with others, to ambulate, to feed and dress him/herself, and to interact with (and influence the behavior of) adults. Could teens learn a parallel set of age appropriate skills in the same length of time?
Three year olds absorb, understand, and remember much more than we realize. The child who travels, grows up with a larger perspective on the world and more tolerance for people and the different ways they live.
If you’re concerned about the routines of toddlers, like naps, don’t be. When a three year old is tired, s/he sleeps. No matter where s/he is. When hungry, they eat.
When my grandson was nine years old, we started planning another trip. He had already been to Switzerland twice, plus Holland and Germany. My dream was to take him to Scotland.
But, when I asked him to choose the destination, he immediately responded with Asia. We discussed travel plans over and over. Each time I tried to refocus him on Europe.
When asked why he wanted to visit Asia, his answer surprised me. He said he wanted to go to a country with different architecture, different history, and different language. This from a nine year old. Would a child who had not already experienced travel respond with this insight? I think not. We went to China.
Early exposure to travel provides a foundation on which all future learning builds. A young child is open to and eager for new experiences shared by the family. Not something you are as likely to find in a teenager. Your travel budget will buy more when spent on a young child than on an older one.
In addition to sharing your love of travel with a very dear person, you have the thrill of experiencing the trip through his/her eyes. What s/he sees, and therefore what you see, will amaze you.
Bonding, memory making, and lifelong learning are the souvenirs of traveling with toddlers. And, maybe, a cowbell. Except for the cowbell, these souvenirs require no additional expense or precious space in a stuffed suitcase.
Go ahead. Try it.
Janet McCrea Dieman is a regular Untours. Her two inseparable passions are travel & learning. While exploring these passions, she collects memories and photos. Janet shares her memories and photos with seniors in retirement communities and nursing homes, members of organizations, and school children by presenting armchair travel programs. In addition, she recently published the first three in a series of seven multimedia interactive ebooks for children to introduce them to other countries and share the joys of travel. Take a look at Grammy Takes Logan to Switzerland and Grammy Takes Foster to Switzerland (available only at the Apple iBookstore). These books will rekindle memories of trips you’ve taken or excite you to visit Switzerland for the first time. Learn more here.