My toddler son and I on a New York City subway ride (photo by Chris Fancher)My son is finishing up elementary school this week and moving up to the middle school grades starting this fall.

After attending a little school graduation ceremony this morning, I thought of all the times that travel with him as a younger kid was, well, not always the joy of joys.

Yes, the little ones are cute with their sense of wonder at experiences that we take for granted, but my own opportunities to savor new places are somewhat stunted by the need to change diapers, find food that isn’t “icky” and keep their grubby fingers off of museum statues and out of hotel room power outlets.

Successful surfing lesson, Waikiki Beach, Hawaii (photo courtesy Don “Lips” Fujiyama and Aaron Char from Waikiki Beach Services)

I do a lot better when my kids become ‘tweens and teens – we can talk about history and art and food and music and their responses are somewhat more intelligible and interesting than they were at age 3.

My son was not as easy a traveler as my daughter was in the early years….I mean, I’d tell her “No” and she’d usually listen, but my son seemed to need a lot more, er, multiple repetition and drastic threats.

Suddenly, though, when he hit about age 9 or 10, we went together on a press trip to Hawaii where I was covering family travel, and he was a champ. Considerate, polite, ate at least one bite of everything (even poke, a raw fish salad that I love) and I realized that travel with him was delightful.

This was not an adjective I’d previously used a whole lot with him while on the road.

So, to parents of young ones out there who wonder when they’re going to get a “normal” travel life back – let me assure you that it takes a few years, and you’ll have to scale back expectations for awhile, but it WILL happen.

Meantime, do not stop traveling. It all adds up and (most of) the aggravation is worth it….especially when your kid opens up his/her school social studies textbook, sees a photo of Notre Dame and says, “Hey, I’ve been there!”

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I'm a writer and speaker specializing in tourism, travel and social media. NHRA drag racing fan. Co-founder of Tourism Currents. U.S. Navy veteran. Caffeinated.