As a travel advisor who specializes in family travel, I hear all the time that “I would love to travel but my kids are too young.”
I get it, traveling with kids can be hard at times. If you have ever seen a toddler tantrum at 36,000 feet, you know what I mean.
But the rewards of traveling with kids far outweigh the embarrassment of being the parent of the screaming child on the plane.
When my daughter Annabelle was born we decided that we wanted her to develop the characteristics that many children who travel learn. She took her first flight at three months old to Savannah, Georgia. With a stroller and a sling, we explored the town and enjoyed some incredible food.
She is now 3 and has been to 8 states and we survived an overnight transatlantic flight to Greece. We had many more trips planned that unfortunately did not happen due to COVID-19 but in 2022 we plan to make up for it with trips to Walt Disney World, London, San Diego, and maybe the Dominican.
I get asked so often, why would I bring her to these incredible places she is not old to remember.
If we are using that logic, why take them for a walk to the playground or to the children’s museum? Why read them a book or cuddle with them at bedtime? They won’t remember any of that either.
It’s about the experience. Your children may not remember the details or the destinations but it will shape who they become. And they WILL remember the time you spent together. Sure, travel can be expensive but the learning opportunities and character shaping possibilities that it provides for young children, in particular, are more valuable and longer-lasting than the latest toy.
TRAVEL TEACHES FLEXIBILITY
I love that I am helping my daughter learn to be flexible in a world that will not cater to her needs and desires every minute. She is learning to look at everything as an opportunity and to move on quickly from disappointment.
A few months ago my cousins were visiting from California for my brother’s wedding. They came in a few days early to spend time with me and Annabelle, so we decided to visit some tourist attractions. Salem, Massachusetts is just one town over from me and I haven’t really spent a lot of time exploring all the witch and maritime history the town has to offer. We decided we would head in and do the trolley and stop at some of the famous attractions. It was right after high season in November so I checked to make sure it was running before mentioning it to Annabelle. Well, their website was not up to date and it was not running. My cousin was totally fine turning around and hanging out at home, but Annabelle wanted to stay and walk around. We went to the Maritime Museum, House of Seven Gables, and many Hocus Pocus filming sites and she was great strolling around. My cousins were shocked at how well-behaved she was, but we had just returned from two weeks touring Greece and she was used to it. She LOVED performing for us in Salem Common’s bandstand and running around the playground.
More than anything it is helping ME learn to not sweat the small stuff and to enjoy the unplanned moments.
ENCOURAGES YOUR CHILDREN TO TRY NEW THINGS
Our rule when we travel is that everybody must try one new thing on each day of our trip. That could be a food, an attraction, or an activity. When you set this example of new things being fun and exciting your children will follow suit. A child who travels frequently is less likely to become a picky eater and you never know how a new activity may inspire them. A visit to the art museum may lead to a child who loves to draw, or a cooking class may make them more inclined to help with dinner at home.
INSPIRES CURIOSITY AND USE OF IMAGINATION
All of those new things you have been trying lean right into this benefit. As you try new things your children become more curious as to what else is out there and what else they may be able to try. Time of flights or waiting in lines gives children an opportunity to learn to entertain themselves without the plethora of toys and screens. In turn, they develop an incredible imagination and that imagination serves them as they explore new places. A visit to a castle ruin becomes a fairytale come to life, a port town a pirate adventure, or a museum a scavenger hunt.
CREATES A LIFELONG LOVE OF LEARNING
Of course, this one is next because curiosity leads to learning! I know personally when I visit someplace new I become very curious about the who, why, and what and when I get home I have to learn everything about it.
But don’t just take my word for it. A survey of almost 1,500 U.S.-based teachers, commissioned by the Student and Youth Travel Association (SYTA), found that 74 percent of educators believed that travel has “a very positive impact on student’s personal development.” A majority of teachers also believe that travel’s positive impact can extend to a student’s education and career.
How could it not? The best place to learn history is being where it actually happened. Science comes alive when you are up close to nature. Social Studies and Geography. Forgive me for being cliche but there really is no better classroom than the world.
DEVELOPS CULTURAL CURIOSITY
All of those other benefits are great for you and who your kid will become but I truly believe we can change the world by traveling with our young children. You can learn about other people, you can learn about other cultures but until you really experience it you don’t have that deep understanding. Teach your children that even though people may look different from the outside, we are all the same.
That study I talked about earlier concluded that children who traveled to experience cultures other than their own have increased tolerance and respectfulness. If every child develops the same understanding and grows up with not only an acceptance but appreciation for other people’s trials, cultures, and views can’t you just see what a wonderful place the world would be?
PROMOTES FAMILY BONDING
Ok… I probably should have ended on making the world a better place for dramatic effect, but the reason I do what I do is to promote time together as a family. There is just something special about traveling together. No matter what you do at home, travel as a family creates a unique time and space for bonding that you just can’t get anywhere else. Strip away the tangles and pressures of everyday life and you suddenly find yourself able to appreciate one another more fully and live life more purposefully and connect with each other more deeply. You now have shared experiences that your children will talk about for years to come. Even if they don’t remember the trip – the times you shared together, embarrassing moments, stressful situations become amusing, and will inadvertently become the stories you tell at their graduation party.
I am not saying that traveling with kids is going to be easy. As parents, we need to reassess how we travel and adjust our expectations. We can’t expect everything to go as we planned. We have to remember that the unplanned moments can be the best and the little challenges are helping shape who our children will become. So please don’t wait. Take every opportunity you can to explore the world together.
If you are ready to have the family vacation you’ve been dreaming of, without spending time researching, planning and making it happen, schedule a call today. I’m here to help busy working Moms plan, organize and book the perfect family vacation. With me, all you have to worry about is enjoying your well-earned time away with your family. If you are ready to stop trying to do everything on your own and see how I can help you schedule a complimentary trip planning session now.
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