I'm a Dad and I love to travel. My boys are older now (12 & 9) and my wife and I would like to travel with them. That brings up the question parents have been asking for years: If we spend the money for this trip, will they remember family trips?
It's a great question and here's my answer: I think there's a better chance of them remembering this trip than you remembering the trip you took when you were 11. The reason is technology. I'll explain more throughout this article.
A few years ago, we took a family trip to Philadelphia. We did all the major sites, Independence Hall, The Betsy Ross House, Liberty Bell, etc. We went to a Phillies game and actually saw almost an entire inning before it poured down rain. I also took lots of pictures. My sons were 8 and 5 when we went and they remember the trip.
My Experience Growing Up
When I was 9, I went to Philadelphia and remember virtually nothing except that I got my finger stuck in the crack of the Liberty Bell. At least that's what I think I remember. I don't even know if that's true or not. I also remember my mother buying me a Phillies uniform at a department store.
That's it. I don't know how long we were there, I don't know what we saw or did, save the liberty Bell and baseball uniform shopping. To my knowledge there are no photographs of the trip except possibly security video of some kid and the Liberty Bell.
Cameras were expensive then and not everyone had them. On top of that, for those not familiar with ancient technology, my travel photography process used to go something like this:
- Go on vacation
- Take a few photos
- Run out of film
- Look for more film
- Pay for film at a tourist destination
- Return from vacation
- Forget film in a drawer
- Drop film off at drugstore
- Wait a week
- Get pictures from your trip
Oh how times have changed. My kids are conditioned to rush behind me as soon as I take a picture of them so they can see it. The "memories" start right away.
Photos: Cheaper and More Plentiful
That brings us back to travel. There's a good chance your kids will remember your family trips because you have the ability to take a lot more photos than people did in the past. Depending on the size of your memory card(s), it costs the same amount of money to take one picture as it does to take 500.
Kids love to look at pictures of themselves and if they have a bunch to look at, the memories are always in front of them. You can get a hard bound book of your travel photos made for about the same amount of money it took to get a roll of film developed "back in the day."
Not that you would, but don't forget your phone. When I went to Philadelphia as a kid we had one phone, it didn't take pictures, and the chord wasn't nearly long enough to reach from our house in Ohio to Pennsylvania.
Cell phones now possess the ability to take and share photos with anyone anywhere. I realize this isn't news, but have you ever stopped to think about that and how it could relate to whether or not your kids will remember their family trips?
You can take a picture of your kids on your phone, post it on social media, or email it to grandma and grandpa and call them at night from the hotel room. Your kids can tell your parents where they went. Your parents can say, "I saw the picture. That's so exciting!"
I've talked to a lot of parents who have concerns about traveling with their kids. They're afraid they won't remember and the money spent will be wasted.
Here's the alternative: Wait until they're old enough to remember. What age is that? What if you have multiple children and you wait until all of them are old enough? Will any of them be too old? If you wait until the time is right, you may never find the perfect time.