Monday, March 30, 2015

Monday Musings

Outside Good Cho's in Taipei

On traveling as a kid

‘It was either an overseas trip every year or owning a car,’ my mum recalled.

Being a single parent, she did not want our childhood experiences to be any less than normal kid’s. She’s completely outdone herself, with my brother and I having hit 10 countries before even taking our O level exams. Disneyland in America, Sea World in Australia, skiing in Korea . . . everything an average Singaporean kid could ask for and really so much more.

Thus I blame my itch to travel every year on her upbringing. Even in the year I had a severe bronchitis attack, I still went to a nearby Southeast Asian country for a short getaway.
Here are my thoughts on we ought to travel with children (though it can such a pain) –

1.  Singapore is small

I know right. But no seriously, there is only so many places you can visit on a day off with your kids. The zoo and the aquarium are fantastic, but after a dozen visits, even these world class attractions turn stale.

Perhaps you might argue that we have large open spaces to play, where kids can run around fly kites or cycle. But these large open spaces are usually overcrowded and a chore to get to by public transport. A stroller, diaper bag and picnic mat? You get the picture.

2.  The world is their classroom

If going to school gives you an education in language and sciences, then travelling allows you to widen your knowledge of the world. What better way to learn the history of the Holocaust then standing in the middle of one of the concentration camps or understanding a people’s culture while donning their traditional costume.

Most families with young children travel on guided tours and yes I agree that these can be rather contrived. I mean the national landmark and main tourist attractions all day, every day. Nonetheless, there is value in organized trips as well. With this preliminary knowledge, they might be spurred to read up more or go back again when their older for deeper experience.

3.  There’s something about being abroad

For those who love travelling, you know that feeling. The moment you get to the airport, something about the air is different. You’re suddenly more adventurous, more curious and aware of your surroundings. Take that feeling a multiply it ten times for a child.

They are learning so much more than we think. They are keen observers, imitators and learners. I believe that immersing oneself in another culture / country is so much easier as a child – we had less prejudice, less care of our image and even lesser assumptions on how things ought to be. This sets the stage for appreciation of differences at a very early age.


And the list goes on... 

Yes there were difficult events, losing a luggage key, being unable to locate the domestic flight gate or getting food poisoning. But if looking past the awkward smiles and tired legs, I would not trade any one of these adventures for the convenience of a family car. 

Did you travel much as a child? How did that affect you growing up?


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