Love in Mexico

Navigating family and place


Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico
December 31
This blog documents the encounters and events that taught me about Mexico, and about the culture of family, Mexico's and my own. .............................................… Find more of my work at ........................................... Thanks for reading.


Editor’s Pick
APRIL 11, 2011 12:17PM

Travel With Your Children

Rate: 14 Flag

Ruins at Tzintzuntzan, Mexico

Yes, it’s difficult; but what isn’t? Yes, it’s not what it used to be; but what else is new since you became a parent? Yes, you have to pack half your house; but do it anyway. Travel with your children. Travel while they’re small and programmed to explore and discover. Travel far and wide and for a long time. Even travel to hard places (i.e. beyond Epcot Center and the in-laws’ house for the holidays, even beyond your borders). Travel for your kids, for the profound experiences that come with travel, for the memories (even pre-memories), for a taste of the sheer breadth of difference that coexists upon this planet. And travel for yourself, for the pleasure, for the challenge, for the rare delight of seeing the world vicariously through a child’s eyes.

My argument is not so far off the argument for taking children to restaurants. You had a kid and suddenly white table cloths were out of the question, in part because you knew said kid would tie-dye that tablecloth with marinara, but your main reason was that you didn’t think you’d have time to finish—let alone savor—that bottle of wine. Particularly with that table next to you glowering at you because they left their kids home with a sitter. But this doesn’t mean that you have to always leave your kids behind.

With time, you adapt. You find places that work—even places without slides and inflatable jumpers—places you can enjoy with your kids: the hip wood-oven pizza place that’s noisy anyway, the cafe where you used to waste away entire weekend mornings reading the paper happens to have an array of windows overlooking a steady flow of entertainment for your vehicle-obsessed toddler. Sure, you have to leave a super-big tip because of the state of the floor afterwards, but this is an investment: with practice, your kids learn how to eat in restaurants, learn how to order and stay in their chairs and use the napkin correctly. And not just because you say so, but because they see everyone around them. This is an investment in being able to enjoy eating out: again, for you; for the first time, for your kids.

The same goes for travel. Only better, because your child can actually enhance the experience, instilling it with a sense of wonder and creating real moments of human contact across so-often impenetrable cultural lines.


Catrinas, Day of the Dead, Mexico

I suppose it goes without saying that travel with kids is inherently an adventure, whether or not your trip qualifies as “adventure travel.” It requires stamina and creativity and supreme flexibility. But there is a pay-off to the extra work hauling all that extra baggage. Not only do your children experience a literal widening of their horizons as they experience places and encounter people different from those to which they are accustomed, but you have the benefit of seeing new places through a child’s eyes, a perspective that will shift, if not widen, your horizon too.



Monarch butterflies at Cerro Pelon, Mexico


Of course, travel with kids takes you to different places than pre-kid travel, or forces you to experience the old places in new ways. Forget sitting in a Paris café all the live-long day; your kid simply won’t tolerate that. Or six hours in the Louvre either. And forget climbing those narrow stairs into the duomo of Saint Peter’s. No, you have to go to where the little boats are sailing, to where the pigeons are begging for bread, to where the children of that place come out to play. For all the things you might have done before that aren’t so feasible with a child or two in tow (salsa dancing all night, or lying delirious in soft sand), there are as many new ways to experience place, and culture, and landscape.


In many places, children can be your ticket into a deeper experience. Compare strolling through a broad plaza admiring fountains and a baroque cathedral and all that local color to watching as your child blows bubbles with other children, joins an old man feeding pigeons, drops a coin in a beggar’s cup, falls in love with the fairy who freezes until a coin falls in her tin bowl and wakes her for a dance. Granted, you are the observer in either case, but children aren’t ever observers. Children live in the moment, wherever they are in the world. And they can bring you with them.


If you bring them along. Which, I admit, isn’t easy. But they aren’t the only ones who get better with practice. You will too. And the reward—a return to freedom, not from parenting, but as a family—is the world itself.



Plaza de Armas, Morelia, Mexico




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I could not agree with you any more. We took our girls everywhere we went and they loved it.

I agree completely! My daughter has been flying with me since she was 18 months - wish we could travel together even more!
The Day of the Dead picture is amazing. I fully agree with you, at some point they take it all in on another level. We took our son everywhere, of course this breeds a never ending sense of wanderlust so you may not seen them very often when they are older! Great essay. RRR
This is wonderful...I got to travel a lot growing up...I am so grateful for the experiences I had and the cultural exposure I is truly priceless...xox
I don't have my own kids (yet) but I have traveled with my cousins who are respectively the ages of eight, five and three. We went to Florida, Disney of course, and it was indeed difficult. But I realized it made me appreciate some of the smaller enjoyments that they found in the parks and even at the resort. It was like being a kid again with them (not just because it was Disney either).
Oh, good. There are other masochists out there! I'd love to hear your stories.
What a great reminder to explore with your children. I am also a firm believer that we see things through our child's eyes.

Well said. Rated.
Couldn't agree more. I enjoyed your pictures too. Things are always so big when you see them for the first time as a child. I remember seeing the Rocky Mountains for the first time when I was a kid. Being from the flat lands of the Midwest I was awestruck with how big they were. Gas prices, rising airfare and a lot of people's economic condition are probably going to keep many closer to home this summer. Sometimes though, you don't have to travel far to have a memorable time.
Yes! I'm reminded of a business trip to New York where I took the opportunity to bring my family. Cab doors flew open, people smiled, we sat in lovely restaurants for hours with 4 and 6 year old boys -- who learned the finer art of ordering meals and enjoying the food... a great lesson, learned early in life.
You're absolutely right -- traveling with children brings a richness to the experience (once you get past the sheer work). First, I can see things through their eyes. But, more importantly, we have stories to share for the rest of our lives. One of my kid's personal favorites: puking on the train in NYC, mere seconds before our stop. Oops...

Great photos! I am with you. Started out traveling with my family from birth, because there is no alternative when all of your extended family live on different continents. I especially agree that the entre you gain through bring your children children far outweighs the inability to go out at night, go on extreme hikes, etc. This is especially true when traveling to a place which adores children, like Mexico.
Great post! (from foreign service mom with 2 kids!:) I love your pictures, too.
Not sure how I missed these traveling with children entries earlier. Been distracted, I guess. I have put a place a new strategy so that I will not miss future ones.

In any event, I very much enjoyed this one. Very much. It is a young person's game though, this traveling with small children . . . hell, raising small children generally. I could not do it any more. Therefore, I shall just read your skillfully written accounts of it all.
This was beautiful, wise, and reassuring. Thank you!