My kids are young, they’re only 1 and 2 years old. So sadly they’re not going to remember any of our recent travel adventures and for now our holiday memories remain mine and my husband’s alone. Although they mightn’t remember our trips in detail, I think the experience of travel at a very young age helps to build a strong foundation for being open to and accepting of the wonderful differences that exist in the world. Toddlers are constantly exploring and learning through the five senses and here are some of the little ways that I think my kids have been shaped (even challenged) by early exposure to different cultures, languages and new environments:
Taste – My kids generally eat whatever we’re eating and when we travel this is no exception. As my husband and I are quite adventurous foodies, travel has opened up the door to amazing new food and wonderful new flavours for our children as well. I cannot say that they have welcomed every combination of herbs and spices which has hit their palate but I hope that this exposure will allow them to accept that not everyone considers rice krispies and green (pesto) pasta standard fare (currently, my 2 year old’s favourite staples).
Sight – Travel moves my kids away from what they are visually familiar with and reveals an entire new set of visual stimuli (from people and fashion to the geographies of cities and the native flora and fauna) that would otherwise only be accessible to them through TV, computers or books. I hope the opportunity to explore their visual environment in 3D will expand their understanding of aesthetics of motion, colour, line, form and perspective.
Smell – Who hasn’t had the experience of smelling something and instantly been thrown back into a memory that’s long forgotten. I love that sensation! A visit to a new destination introduces smells that aren’t present at home: from the smell of a food stall in Singapore to picking fresh blueberries in the Canadian wild, or even just meandering through an apple orchard. I often wonder which smells my children will remember when they get older and which memories these smells will recall.
Touch – Toddlers and babies do a great deal of exploring through their sense of touch. They touch absolutely everything and anything, it’s a necessary function for understanding and categorising their environment. The beauty of travel is it opens up the door to a whole new range of shapes, sizes and textures to explore with the hands. Even something as simple as sand at the beach differs around the world – from very fine soft sand to grainy or even rocky sand.
Sound – Whether tied to a culture’s music, language or simply the sound of a fire truck siren, each destination has a unique sound and hum. In particular I’m keen for my kids to hear different languages. I want them to be aware that many languages and accents exist in the world and that verbal communication differs from culture to culture.
So although travel at a very young age may not result in preserved memories, I certainly hope that it will form a strong foundation for accepting and respecting cultures that are different to our own. If you have any stories to share about how your toddlers or babies have benefitted from travelling I would love to hear about it!
Also, pleased to say this is my 100th post! So, Happy 100th post Baby Loves to Travel!