Land of great writers such as James Joyce and road crossing signs for dwarfs and fairies. The land of bookstores in every shopping street and a pub on every corner (sometimes even two!?). A country where most people play an instrument and literally everyone can sing, and continues to sing even if the lights go out. Yeah, we are going to Ireland! Lucky clovers, Irish Guinness, ancient castles and year-round rain (say what?) here we come..
The plan was to make an eight day road-trip through the middle and southern part of Ireland. Starting and ending the trip in the capital Dublin while also visiting Galway, Limerick, Killarney and Cork and surroundings. An ambitious plan indeed, with a one-year old straddling along and a car filled with two suitcases, a stroller, babycot and a carseat. We found out that most traditional, cute Bed and Breakfasts do not have elevators (noooooo!) and that eating fish & chips and bangers and mash for dinner five nights in a row is not too bad at all. However exploring a country with a young child also has its perks. The Irish are extremely child-friendly, meaning that you receive a warm welcome everywhere you go. Whether it is the security guard at the Trinity College, book of Kells exhibition who lifts your very heavy stroller up three flights of stairs or the friendly old lady at the local bakery who tells you her whole life story while your child tries to steal her sandwich right from under her nose. Travelling with a child you meet people you would never encounter if you are a backpacker. And not just in Ireland! In Oman our blonde little one received cuddles and kisses from even the most conservative, fully covered ladies. In Georgia she adopted three additional grandmothers (unfortunately we had to leave them behind in Tbilisi) and in Italy she made a little friend on the beach.
We noticed that there are many articles written about travelling with babies and toddlers yet none actually reflected our experiences. Yes, travelling with small children is intensive, but also fun as you get to experience a new destination with your favorite little person in the whole wide world. So below is a list why we believe you should travel with your little one:
The people that you meet
Ok, you will not be doing any partying until late in the morning and depending on the needs of your child a nice dinner might be out of the question too. However, with your little one it is so much easier to make contact with the ‘locals’. In most cultures around the world family values are extremely important. Now you have something in common! Taxi drivers open up about their own families and forget to overcharge you, old ladies spoil your child rotten in restaurants and shops and people are generally nicer to you as they cannot help but smile as your tiny toddler decides to walk over to them and give them a high five and a big smile.
We have even had a few nice dinners and lunches where our daughter was occupied playing hide-and-seek with the waiting staff. They loved it, she loved it and we got to enjoy a nice quiet dinner.
More space on the airplane
This one is especially for the people travelling with a child under the age of two. Officially your child sits on your lap during the entire flight, however when a flight is not fully booked friendly airport staff usually seats you and your child next to the empty seat. Meaning you suddenly have extra leg space.
Do you still remember those crazy trips you used to be able to make in the (childless) past? Travelling through the whole of Central America within two weeks seeing more jungle, Aztec temples, ruins and beautiful beaches than you can actually remember. Afterwards looking at the photos thinking, wow I totally forgot about that detail or place. Sounds familiar?
Travelling with little ones makes that a thing of the past! Children need time to adapt to new circumstances and a lot more rest than adults do. So you adapt your travel schedule. Instead of spending a day at a destination you spend a week (or two!) there. Allowing you to truly experience a destination instead of just experiencing a glimpse of its beauty while running off to the next must-see attraction. You might have ticked more boxes off your must-see list in the past but you will realize that travelling at a slower pace you actually REALLY see more!
Travel broadens their horizon
Being around people from various different backgrounds broadens a child’s horizon. While travelling they learn to adapt to different circumstances, cultures and how to interact with children in Italy, the United Arab Emirates, the Philippines or India. Skills that are indispensable in the fast global society of today.
Although your child might not remember all the details of your travels together when they are all grown up, you do! Often time goes by so fast as work, household chores, school activities and other menial things take up most of your time. While travelling you are spending quality time together away from it all. Time to reconnect and do all the things you usually don’t find the time for. Pretty great, right?
Do you also enjoy travelling with your child(ren) and are you missing anything on this list let us know!