Throwback Thursday; Do Kids Remember Travel?

I get asked often not only why we travel but why we travel when our kids don’t remember any of it. I know that our son, F, remembers trips he has taken over the past couple of years, and he is only 5, so I don’t think a fear of children not remembering is a good reason not to take a trip, but it just makes it more important to document your trips with both photos and words. One of our favorite things to do is look at vacation photos and talk about where it was and what we saw.

I have written before about why we like to travel, and how I started traveling at a young age thanks to parents who always valued the importance of traveling with kids. So, it seems only appropriate with everyone doing Throwback Thursday with photos that I revisit the very trips that were so special to me, and to remind me of why we want to raise our kids to be world explorers themselves.

My parents started traveling with us when we were young, and we took our first international trip, to Canada, when I was 2. While I don’t remember that trip I do remember the ones after, to Mexico, Japan, Hong Kong, China, Costa Rica, Spain, France, Ecuador, Chile, Russia, Ukraine, Austria, Germany and more.

The one thing my dad always did during a trip, in a pre-email, pre-laptop, pre-blogging world, was to dictate what we were doing on our trips, and then type them up when we returned. ¬†I have stacks of ‘stories’ about these vacations; what we did, what we saw, how we felt. I love rereading them, filling in the holes in my memories of trips taken when I was a child. He encouraged, and still does, my love of photography, and we have albums of photos to sort through and scan. I am so grateful that when it wasn’t so easy to document our adventures he took the time to do so.

So, over the next few weeks, once I have sorted through pictures (and scanned them in) I will share some of these, embarrassing pictures and all, and hope you all do the same!

And, as a teaser, I spent part of a Summer in Spain when I was 10, with a family, where I liked to dress up like a flamenco dancer apparently!


Dressing up as a flamenco dancer while spending the Summer in Spain

Do you have memories of your first trips? How old were you when you did your first big trip? How do you document your travels for your kids?


10 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday; Do Kids Remember Travel?

  1. Ann

    I want to meet your parents. I think they had such a great outlook on these things and it was very cool that he had you so involved pre and post trip. My parents never did anything like that, which is why I want to do something similar to what your dad did once my kids are older. I don’t remember too many trips specifically, just in general.

    We moved so much when I was first growing up that the first real trip I remember taking was when I was 7. We went to the Philippines to visit family. It was so different than everything I knew. This trip I really do remember because it made such a huge impact on me. We were there for Christmas and New Years and my birthday, I’m sure all those celebrations helped cement it in my memory.

    Right now, I take photos and print them out for the kids to look at. I’m hoping to get my son a camera before our next trip.

  2. 3onthego

    I was literally just thinking about this topic yesterday! We’ve taken our son to Greece, Italy, Spain, Japan, and Mexico twice (he turns 2 next month) and people are always saying to us — why even bother, he’s not going to remember any of it.

    They may be right, but I agree with you — thats no reason to sit home. Even if they dont remember those very early moments, the experience becomes part of them. Travel is a wonderful gift to give your children.

  3. Danielle @ Bubs on the Move

    For us travel isn’t just about visiting places but special people. I was thrilled the other day because it became clear my 2 1/2 year old remembers my grandma who died just over a year ago. He last saw her when he was 18 months old when we stayed at her house for Christmas 2011. Kids remember more than we often give them credit for.

    1. andrea

      I 100% agree with this. My son still talks about his great gran and visiting her in Arizona and he was only 2 when he last saw her, but he clearly remembers her and the trips we took. With family overseas this is especially important to us!

  4. Lisa @ Gone With The Family

    You are so lucky that you traveled so much as a child! We didn’t go anywhere that didn’t involve visiting relatives when I was a kid growing up in rural northern Ontario. My first trip was after I finished university and that’s when I truly got the travel bug!

    I often tell people that my kids may have different memories than I do from their travels but the fact that we remember different things doesn’t make their memories any less valid. I have often been amazed by the details that my kids remember from trips when they were very young – generally funny little details that I don’t remember until they mention it. And in any event, who really remembers every little thing anyway? I know that I certainly don’t but I have photos to jog my memory. For me it’s really the experience and the impact that it has on us that is more important than whether or not we have a crystal clear memory of it.

  5. Cheryl @ KidsOnAPlane

    I do remember my very first big trip. it is when I was 7 and we went to Disney World. I do often wonder if my kids remember anything as we started travelling with them since they were very young (3 months of age but that was for a road trip for outlet shopping LOL!).

    But then I realize it isn’t about what they do and do not remember. It’s about the experiences we have together as a family and I do document a lot of our travels through photos so hopefully when they look at them later they see how much fun we had as a family even though they don’t remember many details.

    My daughter remembers her first trip to Disney World still and she was almost 3 when we took her.

  6. Michele {Malaysian Meanders}

    I’m always amazed by how much my kids remember. And even if they don’t remember them, I can still fondly look back on my own memories of traveling with them (while blocking out all the tantrums, fails, etc.). The one down side that I worry about is whether they’ll have exhausted their desire to travel by the time they become adults. My husband traveled extensively as a child, and now he has absolutely no desire to go to certain places (like Bali) because he’s already been there.

  7. eileen at FamiliesGo!

    We took a great trip to Hilton Head and Charleston just before my daughter was 2 and went to Mexico earlier that year. She doesn’t remember those trips, it’s true. But we remember them and they’re nice memories, so that’s worth something. Also, even if they don’t remember the specific trips, I think they add data to the experiences their brains are accumulating and it helps make the next new experience easier,


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