Though its more challenging, traveling with your children brings tremendous benefits. Whether you go international, take a road trip or just play tourist in your own town, traveling is a great opportunity to improve quality time, and help your children learn valuable life lessons.
Here are 10 reasons you should travel with your children:
Traveling with your children teaches them how to be a global citizen
There is no better way to teach a child that they are part of a big world filled with all different people, cultures, foods and landscapes, than traveling. Exposing children to these differences when they are young is a great way for them to see the world more compassionately and to better understand global issues as they grow older. Who knows, traveling might empower your child to one day become a world changer!
Traveling with your children enables more quality time and creates life-long memories
I don’t know about you, but a typical day for my family can be quite hectic. We rush to school, run around to baseball games, ballet and swimming. We share some cuddles and help with homework, but it never seems like the quality time is enough because our cell phones buzz with work emails and we have deadlines to meet. Traveling however, provides an opportunity to slow down, to have that one-on-one time that we crave with our children. Also, as I’m sure you can probably attest to, traveling provides some of the greatest memories we can give our children. I don’t really remember the everyday activities when I was growing up, but I remember my first trip to Washington DC, New York City and Hawaii. I remember the games we played by the campfire and my first plane ride.
Real world geography and history lessons
There is no better way to teach a child about history and geography than to let them experience it for themselves. Learning about the U.S. government is one thing, but to go to Washington D.C. and see the White House, the incredible monuments dedicated to past presidents and memorials for those we have lost is a much more powerful way to teach children. They also get a better understanding of geography by traveling, especially if you take the time to study maps with your children before you go to your destination. Another great way to teach children about maps and geography is taking public transportation and having your kids help with directions and navigation.
Experience new foods, and tastes
We are lucky here in the U.S. to have access to a wide variety of foods and spices. Within a mile of our home we can have Indian, Thai, Sushi, Italian, Mexican food and more. My children have grown up with different spices and flavors. But as hard as I try, I can’t replicate the taste of a Thai dish from a small restaurant in Bangkok. Traveling is such a great way to see how other people experience food and to try new flavors as well as produce that’s not available where you live. I remember eating mangosteens in Thailand and absolutely falling in love with the little unique fruit. Though we can sometimes get them at home, the small, sweet papaya in Hawaii is unbeatable when you’re actually eating it straight from the tree. And what about drinking the water out of a freshly cut coconut on the beach?
Make new friends
I love how children tend to have fewer inhibitions than adults do when it comes to making friends. I feel like every time we go to the beach, my kids find some new friends to play with. Traveling is no exception. It’s a great way for your kids to meet and play with new friends during your travels. In addition, these days with social media, there’s a good opportunity to maintain communication once you return home.
Inspires a spirit of adventure, courage
A lot of travel involves taking risks, whether its trying a new food, riding in a Tuk Tuk in Thailand, or experiencing a zip line in Costa Rica. Traveling provides an excellent opportunity for children to try new things, overcome fears, and gain courage.
Develops better friendships between siblings
If you have more than one child, traveling is an opportunity for siblings to get closer. When there isn’t another “game in town” I have found that my own kids get extremely close when we travel. (Yes, they also fight more). Nevertheless, they also get more creative about making up games and exploring together.
Traveling Teaches Patience
“Are we there yet?” is probably one of the most annoying statements uttered by our children; especially if its said every 10 minutes on a long car ride. In our world of instantaneous satisfaction through apps, video games, access to information etc. travel can be slow, tedious and long! But its beneficial for children to learn patience, to learn how to entertain themselves during a long flight or car drive. Patience is an important skill that can only be gained through practice. Instead of handing your child an iPad on a road trip, perhaps try and come up with some alternatives that will inspire more creativity. Bring coloring materials, games that can be played in the car – or even legos.
Travel can be an opportunity for service
Though traveling just for fun is amazing, there are so many great opportunities around the world for short-term service. For example, there are mission organizations who have orphanages where you can volunteer, or serve a meal at a shelter. Check out more voluntourism organizations online or check in with your favorite charity to see if there are opportunities available.
Expose children to art and culture
Living in San Diego we are fortunate to have access to great museums, historical sites, zoos and more, but many are not as fortunate. Traveling can puts our kids in a position to see and experience art and culture that they would never be able to see outside of a book or TV show.
What are some things you or your children have learned from traveling? I would love to hear from you! Comment below.