Please note this site has financial relationships with American Express and this post may contain affiliate links. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here to learn more about my partners.
We travel for lots of different reasons. To see different places and different cultures, to try somewhere new, to getaway, to find ourselves, to lose ourselves, to just have fun. I believe the benefits of family travel are virtually infinite, but on our current trip I noticed a benefit that I hadn’t in a while. Getting away from home and out of our routine allowed me to see how grown up she has become.
Being an only child, our daughter has the privilege and the curse of having a fair amount of our virtually undivided attention. She has gotten help with little every day things long after she probably would if she had a couple of younger siblings by now. In some ways she is very advanced for four and a half years old, but in other ways she probably has been babied a bit by virtue of being our baby. We do our best to battle this and prevent ourselves from unintentionally holding her back from doing things for herself, but I’m sure we are not perfect at that balance.
However, when we leave home, we also leave behind the routine of what she typically is expected to do for herself, and what we expect to do for her. She is her own person on her own journey to a land far away, just as we are.
At 4.5 years old on this trip to Hawaii, she no longer had to be asked and reminded to pull her own bag through the airport. She no longer asked where the lavatory was on the plane, or wanted anyone to even stand outside the door while she went in. She was able to keep herself quietly occupied for a couple of hours while we dozed on the plane – even without watching a movie. That was beyond huge.
She talked to people in the gate area about Hawaii and about the difference between Hawaii as a state and the island of Kauai. She understood that the plane ride was going to be “as long as Alaska” and the time would be different at home than in Hawaii. She asked how much further we had to go once or twice on the flight, but not in a “are we there yet” sort of way, but just out of curiosity.
She packed her “toy bag” on her own and at the first request. We probably are about at the point where she can start packing some of her own outfits, too, but for now we put her on toy duty.
I can go on and on with the minutia of what she was able to do for herself on this trip, but the main takeaway for her was just an air of being “big”. Kind of like a “Mom, I got this” sort of attitude that we don’t always have a chance to see for what it is in our everyday lives at home.
We didn’t go on vacation in order to see how grown up she could be, but that part came as a bonus at no extra charge. I guess sometimes you have to getaway to see what has been happening while you were at home.
I’m curious to know if other families have experienced this same phenomenon?