Where to, when? Best ages to travel

Aron and I were reminiscing the other night and thinking back fondly to our trip to Thailand. It occurred to me that we sort of lucked out that Hudson could still squeeze into a stroller. (By the way, just saying that makes the trip feel like a million years ago—I can’t imagine him in a stroller right now!) We could have Skyler ride in a backpack while scooting him along—leaving us free to be destination-focused or distracted by each other, as the situation called for. And I imagine it curbed a lot of complaining.

All to say, there are practical benefits to traveling with young children, just as there are with older ones. They cost less at restaurants, fit in small beds, and can be ported to and fro when needed, just to name a few. Babies bring very few advantages—mostly hardship and frayed nerves—but they are extremely easy to feed on the road, especially if you’re nursing. And while I rarely get to lounge on beach chairs and read a book these days, that did happen on occasion with a baby—they nap a lot!

My guess is that everyone choosing to travel with children would say it’s easiest when they’re older—and of course I never think there’s any wrong age to travel with kids—but I wonder if there are some destinations that work best for certain ages?

Some examples of considerations we’ve been weighing when thinking about trips we might take in the coming years: I can’t wait to go back to Mexico City. But Hudson is, and Skyler will soon be, enrolled in a full Spanish immersion program, so it might be nice to wait to visit Spanish-speaking countries until at least one, if not both, can practice their second language. In a similar vein, I might save a trip to Washington DC until at least after third grade when the Constitution is really introduced in school. And the Fifth grade is when Revolutionary war-time history is addressed. (One could really plan trips around the common core, if she wished!)

Another consideration might be something safety-related. We are really looking forward to going back to India and introducing the kids to places we loved, like Rajasthan, but food-borne illness (“traveler tummy”) is a common concern. It might be best to wait until their immune systems are a bit stronger.

Then there are skills: Do we wait on some destinations until our kids can go Scuba Diving with us? Will they still be excited to travel with us by then? They better be!

Obviously there’s no right answer, but I’m curious to hear others’ thoughts on the question, “where to, when?” What factors do you weigh?

Did you have a trip that really nailed it, age-wise? Or, conversely, something you wouldn’t recommend?

I confess that I found Paris to be less toddler-friendly than some other European cities—for travelers, at least. Don’t get me wrong: we had a wonderful time in Paris, but our stay was really enhanced by our getting a sitter for some nights out.

P.S. What does family-friendly travel really mean?

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