There are a lot of great reasons why you should travel with kids. And there are as many forms of family travel as there are people in the world. When the school bell rings to mark the end of the school year, families often struggle to find ways to occupy their children’s time over the summer months. But finding time to travel with kids is important. Not just to grow family togetherness, but to offer new experiences that will promote education and broader world views. Sometimes traveling with kids means a visit to the cottage, sometimes it means a trip to the beach and other times travel with kids means leaving the comforts of home to experience a new city, country or continent.
The concept of travel with kids can leave parents with a feeling of dread. While it’s true that traveling with kids presents a unique set of challenges, it’s also true that the rewards of family travel far outweigh the inconveniences. Because when it comes to building strong, smart, independent children. And creating powerful family bonds that will last you a lifetime. The world is one of the best classrooms available.
Why Take My Advice On Family Travel?
In the 8 years since becoming parents, we have traveled with kids to over 20 countries. I’ve been writing about our experiences here on our family travel blog. And I’ve also been interviewed by major publications, radio programs, and more about my expertise in family travel. Over the past few years, I’ve made it my passion to study the family travel industry and work to change the perspective around what family travel is, and promoting the values that travel has both for children, and families as a whole.
During this time I have encountered many family travel challenges. But I’ve never regretted any of them. Every destination, every new experience has helped us grow. Each new thing we do has helped our children gain confidence and trust in themselves. And they helped us gain confidence and trust in them.
So, if you’ve ever doubted the value of family travel, or have ever wondered why you should travel with kids, here are 8 great reasons why you might want to consider travel with kids this summer.
Traveling with Kids Promotes Hands-On Learning
Travel often means experiencing new people, new places, and new cultures. While traditional schooling offers excellent book learning, there are some things that have to be experienced rather than read about. Travelling offers a type of “world schooling”. These are real-world associations with the books and material that children would otherwise only read about.
During my travel with kids, I have had the chance to learn hands-on about agriculture, indigenous practices, cooking, and much more. We’ve had the most incredible up-close wildlife experiences, and even gone sandboarding. What’s more, pushing children (and parents) out of their comfort zone during these learning opportunities actually benefited all of our abilities to learn and focus. You could almost see, in real-time, the confidence growing in our boys with each new, amazing experience.
Family Travel Teaches New Responsibilities
Being away from home breaks your regular routine and forces you out of your comfort zone. Both children and adults can benefit from having to assume new roles during their travels. Whether as an explorer, navigator, taste-tester or interpreter, there is always an opportunity for kids to step up and take leadership roles. These experiences are exactly why I try to promote adventure family holidays over more standard “family vacations”.
When you travel with kids you are forced out of your comfort zone. You have to learn to rely on each other in order to overcome any obstacle that life throws at you. It’s incredible how often our children have surprised us with their maturity, compassion, and strength when life has thrown us obstacles.
Travel Helps Promote Self-Confidence in Children
Adventure travel with kids, whether close to home or abroad can give children the opportunity to develop confidence that will help them in their daily life. Older siblings can have the chance to show that bravery off to younger ones and the resulting boost in confidence can follow them throughout their lives.
Our boys have drastically different personalities. Our 8-year-old, C is cautious, intellectual, and thoughtful. He’s up for any adventure but needs to think about it first. D is an adventurous, spontaneous thrill-seeker. He’ll jump into any situation without thinking, but he’s also the picky eater. Each child approaches their obstacles in their own unique way. Take our sandboarding adventure in Huacachina, Peru as an example. At three-years-old, D wanted to be the first one down the hill. We had to hold him back from tearing down the hills ahead of us. C, on the other hand, waited to see how everyone else fared before he made the thrill-seeking ride down the massive dunes.
Children Learn to See Similarities Instead of Differences Between People
Often when people think of traveling to new places, they focus on the differences between here and there and us and them. The more you travel with kids, the more they will instead begin to see the similarities between cultures and people, and when this happens tolerance and acceptance grow while fear and mistrust quickly slip into the background.
Our children have been witness to unique cultures and ways of life. They’ve learned about indigenous drum circles in North America, experienced hunting practices with Guarani tribes in Argentina, and played with Bedouin children in Petra Jordan.
Each time they are introduced to a new culture, they gain insight into the greater world. Kids who travel gain a better understanding of the greater world than those who don’t experience life abroad. And that is a gift that will last a lifetime. It’s helped them integrate into bigger situations and become leaders in their class. They learn that it’s the differences that make the world such an incredible place to live.
Travel with Kids Helps Them Learn Patience
When you travel with kids, expecting the unexpected is standard. Travel forces you to deal with changes in schedules, eating habits and sleep patterns. You may wait in long lines through airports, sit patiently through security checks and deal with the long, grueling plane, bus and car rides. Children will learn creative ways to occupy their time and this skill will help them when they get home.
We have dealt with travel that has taken us 3-days to get from one country to another. We’ve endured trips simply weren’t as thrilling for some of us than we had anticipated. But with a few preparations, it’s easy for children to find ways to deal with their boredom. And, truth be told, boredom can actually be a real benefit for children. In fact, we’ve found that, even during the worst traveling situations we’ve been in, our boys have still been more engaged than when they were watching television at home.
Children Learn to Adapt to Unforeseen Situations
Things go wrong, you can’t get around it. Luggage gets lost, connections are missed, bad weather can happen and more. Your children will learn not to see these things as road-blocks, but instead as new opportunities. While travel planning helps ease the pain, some of the greatest family travel adventures come from experiencing the unexpected.
During our travels in Norway, our luggage was lost. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal. However, we were on a long-haul flight from Canada to Kirkenes, at the very top of Europe. We landed, during winter, deep inside the arctic circle. This meant we had no heavy jackets, snow pants, long underwear, and all those other things that you need when you’re ice fishing in the Arctic.
But we endured. We made connections with people, shared ideas, and managed to get a hold of enough winter gear that we were cozy for the three days it took for our luggage to arrive.
Family Travel Grows Stronger Families
When families are forced out of their comfort zone they need to rely on each other for support, comfort, and company. From climbing a mountain to fishing off the dock to laying on the beach, shared experiences build positive memories and associations that will last a lifetime.
While in the Philippines, D became terrified of the small boats and big waves. Our first boating experience had us boarding the boats in the water and timing our jumps so as not to get bowled over. His 3-year-old brain just couldn’t handle that pressure, so for most of the trip, every time we boarded a boat, he would start to shake.
Christina, C, and I would each take time sitting with him on the boats to make sure there was always someone within him to assuage his fears. He started looking at us for strength when he would get nervous. And with that trust, when we reached San Vicente, he finally began following us into the water. Tentatively at first, until he realized that even there, we were still together as a family.
Family Travel Builds Trust in Your Children
Many parents worry that their children can’t handle new or extreme circumstances. The biggest thing that travel with kids has taught me is that kids want to learn. Children are desperate to experience, touch and explore. Traveling with children has taught me that I can let my children do these things.
I have learned to check my fear factor at the door. Instead of worrying about what they might break, I join them on my hands and knees to see under the walls of a ruined castle or chase a lizard through the desert or explore tiled mosaics on a church floor, because that is how children learn. Touching and experience is education. And that is being a child.
So no matter what your fears, worries, or excuses are, know that traveling with kids is awesome! Are there bumps along the way? Of course, there are! But, they are the same struggles that you have at home. There is a whole world to learn from. And the first step is right out your front door.
So what do you think? Is travel with kids right for you? If you got some value out of our article drop a comment below to tell us about it. Or if you’re already traveling, swing by our Facebook page and share your journey with us!
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