We spent 3+ weeks in Thailand and Cambodia when the girls were 1.5 and 3.5 years old and I was pregnant with Flynn. I doubt either of them will have meaningful long lasting memories of our trip, but I still think there is so much value in traveling with children even when they’re very young. The exposure to new sights, sounds, smells, language and culture sets the stage for a lifetime of exploration and adaptability.
And with that, here are some things my kids learned on our trip:
–How to be respectful in a Buddhist temple. From taking off shoes to quiet voices to sitting still while receiving the lotus flower blessing, the girls caught on quickly and learned to follow the local rules.
–Not everyone speaks English, and not all money is green. I think it’s great for young minds to be exposed to many different ways of life, cultures and languages at a young age. Skye was eager to learn phrases in Thai, and delighted in practicing “hello” (sah-was-dee) and “thank you” (kap-kun-kah) to strangers we encountered.
–New and exotic foods can be delicious. The kids were already budding foodies since we were living in Japan, but it never hurts to broaden their developing palettes. Mango smoothies and chicken satay were the favorites.
This time around I didn’t do a very good job modeling adventurous eating habits; I unfortunately had morning sickness, so tom ka gai (a stomach soothing coconut milk and lemongrass soup) was my default order at every restaurant. Jason made up for it, though he stopped short of sampling the bug buffet!
-And countless more valuable life lessons, like: politely tolerating the affections of old ladies in public places, how children in Siem Reap get around (2-3 per bike!), staying away from nightmarishly scary monkeys with enormous testicles, and that even Ronald McDonald takes the time to be respectful of other cultures.
And finally, patience. Long plane, boat and tuk-tuk rides, entire days of temple exploring, getting lost, and delayed meals stretch the tolerance ability of any age, but they are part of life so best get started young!