Take your toddler. Take your infant. There are few extraordinarily unique cultural experiences quite like Carnival.
Traveling as a family can be difficult and frustrating at times, but experiencing new things with our kids makes it all worth it. Even experiencing mundane things again for the first time through their eyes, like going to the beach, is rewarding, because we can watch them figure things out for themselves, like “why does the ocean taste like this?” and “where is that crab going?” Even if they won’t remember their first time at the beach, or the sights and smells and heat and energy of Haitian Kanaval, us parents will always have the pictures and memories and can retell the stories later. If the point of doing anything is for the kids to remember it fondly at a later date or to be able to learn something from it, then why even take them to the park or do anything with them until they are much older?
We decided before we had children that we would not let having kids completely redefine our travels. We will continue to go to whatever place interests us, but we just might get a hotel room or AirBnB instead of camp or couch surf, and we will drive ourselves or rent a car rather than travel like backpackers where public transit can be a bit unreliable.
But why Carnival, or Kanaval? Because, why not? We are taking advantage of living in Haiti and plan to experience all it has to offer, and unless it’s a short day trip, we are bringing the kids along, and we think that they will be better adjusted, flexible, cultured, amazing humans because of it. Our toddler already speaks some Spanish from his daycare in Virginia and French from his school in Port-au-Prince. Water is agua and he doesn’t ask us to watch him, he asks us, regardez. He shouts attendez-moi when we don’t wait up. He’s a total chatterbox and I think his multicultural, polyglot upbringing so far has enhanced, rather than impeded, his social and verbal skills. And we anticipate the same with our infant, but the two have near-opposite personalities so we will see what happens.
So take your toddler to Kanaval. Take them anywhere and everywhere. And take your infant, too!