Asia Hong Kong International Travel Taiwan Thoughts Toddler Travel

Five Reasons to Travel with a Toddler

Asia 2010 was pretty good
Asia 2010 was pretty good

Our trip to Asia is winding down, but before we go I’ve been reflecting a bit about whether it was worth all the trouble dragging our about to be 2-year old halfway around the world. It hasn’t been easy and we’ve never been out past 9 PM (which is like the opposite of what one would usually do in Hong Kong or Taiwan).

At some point in Taipei Jess asked me if knowing what I know now, I’d take this trip again. I’m happy to say that now my answer is a definitive yes. Here are my personal reasons why.

Everything is new and amazing to a toddler
Everything is new and amazing to a toddler

1. Problem solving is fun for me

Although you might have an impression of me as a problem creator (guilty), I enjoy problem solving which takes up about 80% of my energy as a parent. Travel inherently involves a bit of problem solving – figuring out how to navigate a new country in the most efficient (both cost and time) way possible can create a real challenge.

You need to be a lot more strategic about your pathing with a toddler in tow
You need to be a lot more strategic about your pathing with a toddler in tow

Balancing a toddler’s needs on top of all that adds a whole other layer that, while stressful, I find really fun dealing with. It’s fun because the rewards of “figuring it out” can be seen on the smiling face of my child which makes it feel worth it.

Case in point: it took a lot of maneuvering to get us there, but the end product of going to Hong Kong Disneyland today was a lot of this:

No hands!
No hands!

2. You still get to eat well regardless

Traveling with a toddler definitely slows us down, but the one area that suffers the least is eating. Sure, you don’t get to go to any fancy restaurants, but there is plenty of amazing food to be had that your toddler can enjoy with you (as long as you’re willing to do some advance research/problem solving!)

I could probably eat 20 of these
I could probably eat 20 of these

We even managed to hit up two Michelin starred restaurants on this trip, Din Tai Fung in Taipei and Tim Ho Wan in Hong Kong.

IMG_5567
Quite possibly my favorite Char Siu Bao (pork bun) of all time

I mean sure, they’re not your typical fancy schmancy Michelin stars, but the food is still amazing and memorable. And in a worst case scenario you can take food back to your hotel room – I guarantee if you do it right it’ll still be better than what you eat at home! What we eat, at least. 🙂

3. The chance to introduce your kid to new cultures is worth it

Or in the case of this trip, her forbears culture. This trip has helped legitimize our decision to speak mainly Mandarin to M, since she’s been surrounded by it since we got to Asia. I also think that there is that “wow” factor for her, especially here in Hong Kong. All the people, all the lights, all the…boats…all these things have been really stimulated (and overstimulating!) our daughter.

Hong Kong has turned M into a big fan of boat rides
Hong Kong has turned M into a big fan of boat rides

But I know one of the best parts of the trip for Jess was the chance for M to not only meet relatives, but the time we visited the house where her father grew up. There’s something special about seeing your child in a place that has significant meaning for you, even if they don’t get it. Sometimes that’s worth the trip in and of itself.

M visiting "home"
M visiting “home”

4.  Traveling together is a real bonding experience

Every time we travel together, it feels like M takes some major steps developmentally. But deep down I think it just feels that way because we get to spend so much time together. And it’s fun.

It’s fun for our daughter to see and experience new things, and it’s fun for us to be a part of that. I’m sure traveling is a bonding experience with kids of any age, but I think there’s something special about toddlers.

May or may not have had to give her a little nudge down
May or may not have had to give her a little nudge down

Sure, they’re just starting to have opinions but for the most part, everything is awesome to them. Whereas when you drag an adolescent around they’re probably just complaining all of the time. Well, maybe that was just me.

But when we ask M if she wants to try something new while we’re on the road, right now the answer is “yaaaaaah” 90% of the time. And that’s fun for all of us.

5. It beats being at home (most of the time)

I guess we could have spent the last 10 days lounging around at home. But I would have inevitably just drifted to my computer, M would have just been doing the same old same old, and Jess would probably be baking something amazing.

Hey, if they get bored, stickers work in any country
Hey, if they get bored, stickers work in any country

Being out here forces us to mix up our routine; that process isn’t easy but it’s definitely worth it. We get to see the world together as a family and have some memorable moments (both good and bad). Not too shabby.

Final Thoughts

What I’ve neglected to mention at all is how points and miles really have made this trip possible. It takes a lot of work and planning to fly business and to stay in confirmed suites, but that’s all things that make our travel easier (and less expensive!). For that I’m thankful.

Ultimately, while it may not be for everyone, I think traveling with a toddler is/was worth it. Especially when it’s 2 vs 1, which is what we’ve got. Feel free to check in with me again if it becomes a game of 2 on 2. Maybe I’ll change my tune…

IMG_5576
Asia 2014 was different, but in many ways even better

 

 

Joe
Just an average joe trying to fly his family for less
http://www.asthejoeflies@gmail.com

One thought on “Five Reasons to Travel with a Toddler”

  1. I second all of your reasons. Thanks again for sharing your trip experiences. What we’ve found is that it is a personal thing having a travel vs. vacation mindset. It might just be semantics between the two, but challenging yourself to navigate a foreign city, with a diaper bag in hand, is definitely more travel than vacation, if that makes sense. Each to their own. We’ll definitely hit up the <$2 zoo when we visit Taipei this summer.

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