Thursday, May 08, 2014

Do young kids remember their travels? How to keep travel memories alive!

My son has only just turned four, but he's already been on numerous flights to ten different countries. But he's so young - will he remember these travels?

Regular readers will know my parents took my sister and I campervanning around Europe for six months when we were young. I was nine, and my sister was seven; she says she doesn't remember much about it, while I feel like I remember quite a lot, beyond what my parents have told stories about or photos I've seen.

My son first went to Europe at just four months of age, so he clearly doesn't remember that. He's now four, and I would really like to think he will remember some of this himself: but memory is a funny thing and I'm sure we can influence what he remembers, too, and this is how I'm doing it!

1. Lots of travel photos, all the time

I love to make up digital scrapbooks after our trips and although I'm not always prompt about it, I'm usually extra-inspired because I want him to have some tangible memories and a book about his travels to read at bedtime!

Our digital scrapbook about our European trip is a popular bedtime read at our house

We also make it a habit to sit at the computer now and again and scroll through photos of one of our trips. At his young age, visual is king - for him, looking at photos of our trips (plus the odd video) is like watching TV but with him in it!


2. Telling stories of our trips

Bedtime at our house has lots of books, but sometimes it is great just to tell stories too, and my son will regularly ask for "the story about ..." - something that happened on one of our trips. Obviously I've planted the seed by trying to be a good storyteller and tell him these stories in the first place, but it's definitely worked and now he'll ask to hear travel stories. Like the one about the time the people set fire to the coconuts ... (that was for the Thaipusam festival in Penang in January, in case you're wondering!).

That time with the burning coconuts during Thaipusam in Penang ...

3. Relating everyday stuff to travel memories

Obviously, I'm the kind of person who thinks about travelling very often. That makes it natural for me to bring up travel memories in all kinds of everyday situations. "We're having noodles for dinner, a bit like those ones you ate in Penang." Or when we're at our local zoo: "Remember those rhinos we saw fighting at the Dublin Zoo last year?"

Obviously delicious noodles at a hawker centre in Penang, Malaysia
This regular habit of mine to casually mention our travels has become a habit for my son, as well. I'll always remember his kindergarten orientation session last year (aged three and a half): he was sitting in a big toy car and looked up and told me it was a plane, now, and he was flying to Dublin and then he was going to make it a train to take him to Galway. (That was a proud travel-blogger-mum moment, I tell you!)


4. The big picture meaning of travelling young

In fact, I don't really mind if my son remembers our actual trips in any kind of detail or not: what I am really trying to do with all this talk about travelling is instil a genuine love of travel. I think it's such a valuable thing to do, life-changing and inspiring, and I want him to grow up feeling confident to travel wherever and whenever he likes (of course I may regret this in some ways if he decides to live on the other side of the world from me!). The details aren't so important, but remembering that he loves to travel is.

Over to you:

How old were you when you first travelled to another country - and do you remember it?



I'm linking up with IG Travel Thursday, and you can check out some of the other great posts below.

8 comments:

  1. I'm told I was 2 months and flew from Colombo to Dubai..and my parents continued to travel with me. I've done the same with my kids and they were both on flights by the time they were 2 months old. Like you I try to keep the memories alive by talking about things and showing pictures constantly. As long as they grow up to be easy travelling kids with a thirst for new things I'm happy! :)

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    1. I'm absolutely with you there - my big goal in life is to have an easy travelling kid - so far, so good!

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  2. I didn't travel much when I was younger, but I can still remember my first trip abroad to Germany when I was five. Our kids have travelled in three continents and the oldest makes scrapbooks and I have made numerous photo books which the little ones love to read. We also talk about those travels and I think they are large part of our live since they have been related to us moving continents three times and then exploring what's around us...

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    1. Scrapbooks and photo books are brilliant ideas. I still have the scrapbooks I made from our first big trip when I was 9. So lovely (if a little embarrassing at times!) to look back on.

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  3. I remember trips from my childhood more than anything else. Even though we didn't take that many or even go that far! Travel memories are just the best!

    I love the idea of relating foods to travel memories back home. We totally do that as I'm always trying to recreate something I had when I was far from home. :)

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    1. Yes, using the taste buds is a very powerful way to remember being somewhere! (also - delicious!)

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  4. I was an adult when I first traveled to Europe which is why I want to do the opposite with my kids. We've not been to Europe or another country with them yet, but we're now ready. I really wanted them to be a little older to make it easier on me, and for the expense. But, I think the more you expose them then the more wordly they become and it's only positive.

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    1. Absolutely, Leigh - definitely will only do them good. I can understand about waiting until they're a bit older as I don't think we would have done so many trips to Europe with my son this young unless we had the in-laws there to visit. (and yes I wish wish wish it would be cheaper!!!)

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