When I say that I love traveling with my toddler, most people think I’ve lost my mind. Days with my toddler are not exactly filled with unicorns and rainbows. It’s more like dealing with an emotionally unstable, miniature king who has his day ruined by me asking him to put on pants, and who is allergic to sleep. He hates to sit in his car seat or get on a plane without throwing a tantrum because he can’t pilot the plane alone.

So why do I enjoy traveling with him so much? Here’s my top reasons:

I end up doing more fun things than I would alone.

We examine rocks, play in muddy puddles, pick wildflowers, pee in the woods, and chase squirrels. Even if we have approached the 112th playground, we still stop and try every slide. My favorite, and often times, most embarrassing, is when we walk into some beautiful church, or majestic building, and my toddler decides to test the acoustics. By yelling. Short bursts of sound, as loud as he can, to see how well the echo floats his boat. While I am wanting to duck and cover, he somehow seems to make everyone in the place beam with laughter. This, my friends, always makes for an embarrassing, yet proud mommy moment.

He makes me be more spontaneous.

“Momma! Look! A mouse! Stop!” So of course we pull over on the side of the road so my child can watch this ‘mouse’ (a.k.a really big Nutria Rat) eat garbage out of a drainage ditch. “It’s so pretty! I want it.” I’ve never laughed so hard, and you bet every member of my family was phoned so he could tell them about the pretty little mouse that “looks like Mickey”. But, you know what that led to? Crawfishing in the drainage canal that was close to the ditch with a stick and piece of lunch meat. Definitely something we did not plan, but probably one of the moments of that trip that brought the most joy to my child’s face.

I get to see the world through my child’s eyes.

“Wow!” “What is that?” Those simple expressions speak for themselves. I have seen and experienced way more than I normally would on a trip, simply because my toddler insists on seeing what’s in the hole in that massive tree. As an adult, I often forget to stay curious and use my imagination for having fun.

Memories. My son may not remember every detail of the trip, but I will.

I’ve heard so many people say they don’t understand why I would want to take my 2-year-old on a trip when he won’t remember it anyway. This is true, but when he is 18 and graduating, how many stories will I have to embarrass him by? And the best part? Here doesn’t remember so he can’t defend himself! I will find intense joy in telling his friends about the time we were getting a tour of the capitol when he shouted, “Momma! I need to tee-tee!” and pulled his pants down right there and actually peed on the tour guides shoes, while releasing a very loud, echoing fart.

Teaching opportunities are limitless, for him and for me.

With each type of adventure I have taken with my toddler, I feel like I have taught him more valuable life lessons than I could have at home in our daily setting. Plus, he has taught me how to play again, let go of my rigid“schedule”, become a better parent, and enjoy the little things in life.

He helps me stay more present on the trip instead of being on social media.

When I travel to a new and exciting place alone, I want to put it on Snapchat, Facebook, or Twitter, and when the day has ended I curl up in the hotel bed and scroll through Facebook. Having a needy and rambunctious toddler accompany me on a trip always helps make me put the phone down.

Travel helps him gain courage and confidence.

Let’s face it… toddlers can be scared of literally everything or nothing at all. That huge, steep, rocky half-mountain up ahead that I am determined to climb, but my toddler is terrified? Perfect opportunity to coach him through it, and when the gets to the top and realizes he did it, the overwhelming sense of pride he will have will be worth it.

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