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May 14, 2013

Is travel wasted on the very young?

Baby Travel

This week I have a question. It’s one that’s been rolling around in several communities I participate in, and it’s one that tends to bring about heated debate. It’s also one that is very hard to separate from one’s own experience, as a child and as a parent as well. I’m open to all answers and to lively debate, so don’t be afraid to dive on into the fray.

Without further ado, here is the question:

Is travel wasted on the very young?

Before you answer, let’s define a few terms:

So what do you think? Is travel wasted on the very young?

I’m working on a longer piece about this, that I’ll post on my blog in a few weeks, but I’ll dive in here and start the debate by throwing the short version of my position into the ring:

I do not believe travel is wasted on the very young. Just because a developing person cannot remember something does not mean that it does not have value and is not life changing for them. To suggest that we shouldn’t bother with things children cannot remember is to suggest that reading aloud to them, hugging them, playing with them, talking to them and doing little crafty projects with them is a “waste” as well, and we all know how much those activities matter over the long haul. I would argue that travel is a great benefit to the very young because it introduces much diversity to their developing brains at a point when it is easily assimilated. It’s not “wasted” it’s just very hard to measure the benefit to the developing individual.

As always, I have more to say… but this week I really want to know what you think about this, and why you think it. Tell me your stories, educate me! Let’s debate!

Posted by | Comments (6) 
Category: Family Travel


6 Responses to “Is travel wasted on the very young?”

  1. rubin pham Says:

    travel is an education in itself. thus it’s not wasted on anyone.

  2. Jennifer Miller Says:

    Rubin: Agreed.

  3. Turner Says:

    Under three years old? Then yes, absolutely. A waste of time and money.

  4. DEK Says:

    Very young children are wholly absorbed in their mother and oblivious to whether they are in Kansas or Kazakhstan and they will remember no more of it than we remember of a scene in an old photograph in which someone has pointed out that we were that cute little fellow there on the floor. Being a romantic, I of course believe that it is a fine thing to think of yourself as someone who grew up climbing pyramids and playing with asps, even if you don’t actually remember it yourself. It would be better, of course, to wait a few years until they can have real memories, for while these benefits, fine as they are, are somewhat speculative, while the risks, however small, are real.

  5. Ted Beatie Says:

    Now with our own daughter, 10 months old, I’d certainly hope travel isn’t wasted. Will she remember? No. Will she be shaped by the experiences anyway? Most likely.

    I disagree that young kids are necessarily completely wrapped up in momma to the exclusion of all else. Sahara loves interacting with people and exploring her surroundings.

  6. John Vensel Says:

    I am in the “Yes it is valuable” camp. I believe that the very young are like little sponges, pulling in information at a fantastic rate. Their memories are developed as they acquire language, but the imprints they make pre-language will stay with them and shape their view of the world around them. I can’t imagine a very young traveler who would not gain an appreciation of the complexity and diversity of life, and assimilate that appreciation into their development of self.

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