Why We Love Traveling with our Daughter

by Dr. Jessie Voigts /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture
Apr 27, 2011 / 5 comments

We LOVE traveling as a family. It’s so much fun – an extension of our joy of living life to the fullest. We’ve always traveled with our daughter, from birth. Each age she’s been (she’s 8 now) has had both challenges and pure joy. Here’s why we love traveling with our daughter, at all ages!




Toledo Art Museum



When she was a baby and toddler, travel was all about responding to her needs. We chose hotels that had a pool (she loves water) or rental homes, took lots of picnics so we didn’t disturb other diners, and trips that could be done via car. It was much easier for us to control our own schedules this way. We also didn’t plan much in terms of sight-seeing, but rather absorbed the feel of a place, from playgrounds to local markets. Having an entrée into the local kid culture (having our own child) was a blast – we made new friends at playgrounds and children’s museums, saw fantastic theater productions of children’s plays, and explored a variety of libraries (and activities there). This way of traveling was an eye-opener for us, since we didn’t focus on art, museums, and gourmet restaurants (my favorite things!). Instead, we learned what it was like for families with children in different areas. We ate at off hours (late morning, middle of the afternoon) at a plethora of ethnic eateries. Our daughter always asks for sushi, Middle Eastern, Chinese, Thai, or anything with noodles. This early exposure to cuisines is critical to a child’s developing palate. And, the attention of the adoring waitstaff is a good thing – she’s learned to ask for help, understand people from different cultures, and have a sense of safety and love.


Seattle beach

Finding treasures in Seattle


Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium


Seattle beach

Beach, Vashon Island, Seattle





When our daughter was early-school age, things changed. She was less patient in sitting still, and wanted to be much more active. Our trips (still mostly by car) involved lots of outdoor play – outdoor art museums (Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, MI; Walker Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis, MN; Chicago’s Millenium Park; Seattle’s Ballard Locks), more parks for play, and outdoor activities like finding the nearest lake and swimming. In the winter, we focused on art museums (Dayton Art Institute is a favorite) since she loves to draw, and indoor waterpark hotels. We especially love Great Wolf Lodge, and their MagiQuest game for after waterpark hours. This time period was characterized by her greater awareness of places being different, and wanting to explore that. She wanted to explore the arts and culture of wherever we traveled, from food to theater. Still focusing on ethnic foods (since our very small town , pop. 800, does not have any ethnic restaurants, alas!), she expanded her tastes and found favorite foods. She loves finding treats in local markets (like the Midtown Global Market, in Minneapolis, or Uwajimaya in Seattle).


great wolf lodge

Great Wolf Lodge


Walker Sculpture Garden

Walker Sculpture Garden


Discovery World, Milwaukee

Discovery World, Milwaukee


Caber Toss, Scottish Games, MN

Caber Toss, Scottish Games, MN


Toledo Art Museum

Toledo Art Museum




Now our daughter is 8. I LOVE this age. She’s at an age where she’s completely fascinated with learning about the world. While we were in Ireland, she kept asking to go back to visit Staigue Fort, an ancient circular fort on the Ring of Kerry. She also loved watching tv in Gaelic, and learned some of the language and the cultural connotations. She is eager to explore, whether it is climbing huge rocks or horseback riding on Derrynane Beach; or in Scotland, watching dolphins in the rain at Inverness; looking out the window of our home on Loch Ness for hours, intent on finding Nessie; wandering the battle fields of Culloden for an entire afternoon, dragging her parents after her. She’s also a fashionista, and is quite eager to people watch and see what people choose to wear. From the thick winter coats and scarves in Chicago to raincoats and sunscreen in Seattle, she’s an astute observer. Her view of the world and her openness in exploring it has led us to stop and pay attention, to focus on where we are, and who we’re among. Her curiosity about people, places, and things has brought the world home to our family. We still don’t dine in fancy restaurants, but I don’t miss it a bit. We choose the best independent restaurants (again, often ethnic) and talk in depth with our waitstaff, asking about their lives and cultures.


Staigue Fort, Ring of Kerry, Ireland

Staigue Fort, Ring of Kerry, Ireland


At Culloden Battlefield, Scotland

At Culloden Battlefield, Scotland, listening to the audio tour



What has amazed me, throughout her life thus far, is that the joys of traveling with a kid FAR outweigh the challenges. Although there definitely *are* challenges (boredom on planes and in cars, keeping still during hours of transportation and work-related activities, our awareness of not bothering others), it’s also full of joy. I love how she opens our eyes to new activities and ways to learn about the world. I love her curiosity about the world – whether it is ancient Egypt or her passion for Paris.  She’s also able to entertain herself on planes and in the car, with her itouch and books, or her drawing materials. She’s still young enough to be excited about new things, and is happy to go along wherever we are headed. She’s a great gourmet, always wanting to find the best ethnic places to eat, and has tried a lot of unique food (octopus, eel, and squid this week). We play, we laugh, we have a sense of wonder about the world. We see things, and meet people we never would have, without our daughter. We love traveling as a family, and exploring the world together.  I can’t wait to see what’s next.


On the beach, Mallaig, Scotland

On the beach, Mallaig, Scotland




This is part of a roundup of articles by the Families on the Move Facebook Group, in honor of Take Your Kids to Work Day. Love it!  Read on, to see more great articles about traveling with kids of all ages, all around the world:


Highs And Lows Of Traveling With A Teen And A Tween, from Wandermom


Attack of the Asian Baby Snatchers, from Dropout Diaries


The Age of Perfection, from Around the World in Easy Ways


What´s like to travel with a 3-year old girl, from Tripping Mom


Take your Child to Work, from Globetrotting Mama


Traveling with children - which one to leave home?, from Snaps & Blabs


Travelling with two children under 6 - insanity or a great idea?, from Our Travel Lifestyle


Travels with a Ten Year Old, from Travels with a Nine Year Old


The Amazing Adventures of Baby Cole, from Almost Fearless


Traveling with your kids: the good the bad and the ugly…, from  Eastside Curry


The World is Our Playground, from Got Passport


What age is the best for travel?, from Family on Bikes


What is it like to travel with kids under 10?, from Livin On the Road


Check out my Learnist board on Teaching Kids about Cool Places:


Teaching Kids about Cool Places



Comments (5)

  • Beth Whitman

    12 years 7 months ago

    She looks like she'd be so much fun to travel with. Can I travel with her, pretty please?????

  • Nicole Durbin

    12 years 7 months ago

    Love all the pics! I've found travelling with kids is even better than travelling without. They do slow you down and help you notice the little things, which are really the best things. Woohoo for family travel! p.s. Uwajimaya is the best! :)

  • pen4hire

    12 years 6 months ago

    What fun to see your daughter enjoying herself so much. And not only that, but hearing the excitement in your virtual voice as you talk about how your whole family is enjoying the discoveries. I love the way children see things in a new light and help you see things you might have missed.


    Vera Marie Badertscher


  • pimlouis

    12 years 2 months ago

    Have a look at croatia-eolivas.blogspot.com to see how a Mexican/American/Croatian kid is discovering there are no limits or borders.


  • kirstiepelling

    11 years 1 month ago

    It's such an ever changing game as you so beautifully describe, different at every age. And gives you a different lens through which to experience travel and the world. And an excuse to be a kid again yourself. Someone once said the best age to travel with kids is always NOW, because they will never be the same age again. Very wise words! 

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