Despite what you may feel when you fall down together at the end of the day in a little heap in the beds of your rental vacation home, there are benefits to traveling with children.
Those benefits come in two kinds: tangibles and untangibles. The tangible benefits are easy to define, and unfortunately there are also fewer of them. But these are things like using the VIP security control at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok, and being given two apartments instead of one at the Waterford in On Nut (also in Bangkok). In other countries you can get ahead in the queue, and in Seoul we got a personal guide through passport control and baggage claim. You get all kinds of discounts (if you can read about them), and people become extra friendly without prompting. Sometimes to excess - we had a hard time defending our children (politely) from the very drunk gentleman who wanted to kiss the kids in the Seoul subway.
But the biggest benefit of traveling with kids is intangible, even though it is the one you are guaranteed to cherish the most for the rest of your life. It is seeing the world through your childrens eyes.
As you grow adult and jaded, there are fewer and fewer things that you can experience for the first time. And they progressively become either more expensive or more repulsive. The first time you rent a hotel room for yourself and your girlfriend to spend a weekend getaway it is exhilarating. The twentieth time you book a room in the Disney Ambassador you feel you could do it with your eyes closed (although I must advise you against it - you may not like the room you got). You probably feel you have tried everything at the Rahoe Night Market in Taipei, and it is time for the scorpion skewers. Wine is wine so maybe that bottle from the past century might taste better. It is funny how it coincides with how you can afford it.
But there your children are, and to them any room in the Disney Ambassador is magical, the amenities becoming their most precious souvenirs. The steamed buns from the night market is a once-in-a-lifetime treat. They have never even seen Matterhorn or Kilimanjaro even on TV. When they are small enough, they will not even have watched TV. Everything is a new experience. And it shows.
No matter how many places you have been, no matter how many exciting things you have seen, the first time your child does something by themselves, or sees something wonderful for the first time, the look on their faces will light up your day. And more than your day: the memories come back during the weeks and months and they will remind you constantly about the experience. In particular the parts where they got to do new things together with you. It will make you all warm and tingly inside (as it does me).
And those memories, since the kids reinforce themselves, are the memories that will build their personalities. And their education. They will remember someone speaking a foreign language, in particular if they have started learning themselves and they can have a meaningful conversation with someone else. It does not matter so much what the conversation is about or even how long it is. What sticks is the fact that someone else was speaking the language they are learning. It makes the likelihood that they will want to learn infinitely much higher.
The same goes for so many other things. Learning to eat with chopsticks, understanding the way you enter the subway, seeing how people lived and dressed in the country you are visiting a hundred, or five hundred, or a thousand years ago will make them look at those things differently when they get home.
Giving your children all that is worth much more than the price of the trip. But watching them experiencing a new country and a new culture for the first time, that is literally priceless.
I am Wisterian Watertree, recently moved from Bangkok to Tokyo, with a brief visit to Honolulu on the way. I write about travel, especially with our three beautiful kids (two girls and one boy, soon turning four and a half - yes. they are triplets). Travel is education and fun rolled into one, and if you are like me, that is something you want to give to your kids. If you want more tips and want to find out when I will publish something, get it from my email list. If you want to be personal, drop me a note on email@example.com, or if you want general tips, follow me on Twitter @wisterianw.