Four and a half years ago, I became a mother to a wonderful baby boy. It changed my life and my travel plans. Pre-motherhood, I suffered from chronic and unpredictable wanderlust. Staying in the same city for more than a month seemed stifling and I was always in search of the New. I did not realise at first that motherhood would change matters. My son’s first trip was at the tender age of four months – a three hour flight from Toronto to the Bahamas. I packed the morning of the flight (never again), and had to go on an emergency pharmacy run to pick up diapers and Tylenol infant drops. Thankfully my own mother accompanied me on the trip, and had the grace to allow me to make my mistakes on a relatively short journey. (She had a stash of Tylenol and Arnica in her own bag that she showed me at the airport.)
The learning? Travel with children requires a shift in mindset. I have a new found appreciation for those who plan. Carry extra diapers, carry wipes, carry emergency medication, carry extra changes of clothing for the baby and for yourself (I have had to travel with pee on my jeans from Toronto to Dubai; the incident occurred 2 hours into the 14 hour flight), and carry food! This might seem like a hassle and, frankly, it is. However, travel with children is also infinitely rewarding. Previously, I would travel to experience new cities or sometimes familiar cities again. Now I travel with my boys – I have two now – to experience the city through their eyes. We travel and we discuss what we have seen, and the way children view the world is magical. Where I see traffic, poop, and sludge, they see cement-mixing trucks, dog-walkers, and snow angels. My older son has taught me to explore again, and I cannot wait to see what my younger son will teach me.
I have taken my older son to Singapore, Indonesia, US, India, Canada, and Lebanon. He has eaten cherries from the mountains in Broumanna, Beirut, while enjoying the view, taken the GO Train and subway in Toronto, seen the White House in DC, and danced in a surprise shower of rain in Bali. Travel with children broadens their world-view, instils an appreciation for cultural diversity and enriches their imagination. Planning is also worthwhile because it creates anticipation, which is half the fun. Last week, during our bed-time cuddle, my son told me about where our next trip would be. He wants to go on a steam-train ride through Europe to see the boats in Venice; he wants to see the Alps, and eat the cheese in Paris. I can’t wait.
Romita has spent her life moving between Toronto, Dubai and Montreal, though she’s left parts of herself in Istanbul and Buenos Aires along the way. She is currently based in Dubai with her husband and two charming boys. Her travel plans this year include gallivanting with the ladies through Paris, a springtime wedding in Marrakech, and summer in Toronto.