Is it even worthwhile to travel with a young child to Israel? My answer is YES.
For years I wanted to take my wife to Israel, the top destination on her travel bucket list. Our three-year-old son was inconvenient in the sense that he certainly slowed us down. But it was so precious to have him along with us and I know he will look back on all the pictures I took one day and greatly appreciate this trip.
Every child is different, but don’t expect your young child to absorb the significance of the sites that you will see. Also prepare your child to do a lot of walking or else be prepared to do a lot of carrying.
We chose to leave the stroller behind and found that to be a wise choice. With many stairs and not so many escalators or elevators, walking through Jerusalem and many sites around the country is an absolute must.
Each day was essentially practice. Augustine practiced walking. He practiced being patient by waiting in lines or by being quiet in places deemed holy. Food and rest were spaced out, forcing him to be even more patient.
I don’t think there was any site I saw the entire week that was so kid-unfriendly that I would recommend avoiding it. Quite the contrary, Augustine was welcomed into every place we set foot in.
We avoided fancy restaurants, but even at the places we did stop and eat I did not feel self-conscious about having a young child who wasn’t always perfectly quiet.
Most people were very friendly toward him. In Bethlehem, a man near the Separation Wall instantly endeared himself to Augustine and entertained him for several minutes.
The only explicitly kid-friendly thing we did was take Augustine to Nazareth Village, a recreation of what Nazareth was like 2,000 years. Augustine loved the live animals. This is highly recommended for children.
In short, don’t let a young child or children hold you back from visiting the Holy Land. Yes, you won’t see as much. But we did not tailor the trip around him. On the contrary, we just took him along on our trip. It worked out quite well.
I wonder what age to take kids on trips? From my own experience, I have absolutely no memory of a trip take at 1 1/2 years old. I do have limited recollection of a trip at age 3 1/2 (funny man sitting near us, a few details about Disneyland) but not blog-like recollection. I have fairly good recollection about a trip at age 4 1/2 including details about a particular architectural detail of an airport. I had forgotten about that detail for 20 years until I was back at that airport, saw it, and thought “I remember seeing that spooky feature as a kid!” FYI, it was some steel supports that sort of look spooky.
Speaking for myself, we’ve taken our son (currently 3 1/2) on several domestic trips, and a cruise. No, I doubt he’s going to remember much if anything about what he’s done so far. I don’t really remember anything from before age 4 or so. But it’s fun to see his reaction to new sights, hotels, etc. He’s also well-behaved in public, so it’s not like he’s getting in the way or annoying others.
Somewhat echoing MeanMeosh, when we travel with our young kids my wife and I always remind each other that even if they don’t remember the trip we’ll remember having them there. So we’re saving up a store of good memories and photos that we can share when our kids are older.
I’ve taken our now 6 year old on two international trips per year since he was born, our 3 year old joined midway.
The 6 year old now loves trips, airplanes, and everything associated with travel. I don’t pretend he’ll remember every detail of these trips, but it’s worthwhile to us to spend the time with him on vaca and not leave him at home. I’d like to think all this travel will make them both better people later on, but who really knows…
I vividly remember a family trip to Portugal taken when I was 2½. Walking a city wall, seeing a basket shop (getting a small basket, which I still have..), seeing the red suspension bridge in LIS (Ponte 25 de Abril), my parents having crab for dinner at their friends flat… weird how the memory works…
GREAT Report and encouraging for many. I think too many parents go overboard with being too careful and afraid. One just needs selflessness when you have kids. No sleeping in, no fancy long talks, meals but many insights and observations from a kids perspective.
Out of our 4 kids 2 of them took transatlantic flights to Asia when being 20/21 days old. That is how long it took for passports to be issues and visa’s granted. Birthplace was always Germany (my brave wife flew back to Germany in the last possible week of pregnancy, gave birth and then returned to either Bangladesh/China)
2 of our kids have been to 10 counties before they turned 1 year. Our last one in one year slept in 100 beds (not all fancy hotels (hardly any) as we were prayer walking in Korea and China) He is fine and can do 10 miles a day easily. But he would sometimes complain as a 3 or 4 year old: “but why do we have to walk every day? 😉
We have wonderful memories of those early trips. We started air travel with our son at 3 months old. Of course he won’t remember but the point is his father and I will remember. Travel with a young child is different but just as enjoyable.
You say that “most people were very friendly toward him”. Were there instances when people weren’t friendly toward your son?
I’d say “annoyed” would be a better word than “not friendly”, and that only happened at a couple coffee shops where he refused to sit still.