travel with children
To some, traveling with a young child may feel like a waste of money. You’ll need plenty of patience as you make your way through the airport, juggling all that extra luggage, and there’s a chance they won’t even remember it in a year or two. However, the benefits of travel far outweigh those little frustrations in the long run—at least, that’s how we feel. While it’s true your little one may not recall every adventure, travel has been proven to positively impact a child’s development.
Here are 5 ways you can change your child’s life through travel:
1. Teach them to value experience over stuff
There’s nothing wrong with showering our children with gifts and money to show them love or reward them for good behavior. Just be aware that overdoing it may create a monster. It’s all about balance—try showing your love in ways that emphasize quality over quantity, like spending time together. This is where travel can play an invaluable role.
Travel provides a child with a deeper experience and memories they won’t get from a toy. Consider an experience over stuff. Does your child love marine animals? Contact your local aquarium to see if they offer interactive programs that will get you up close and personal with the dolphins or sea lions. They’ll cherish those memories far more than any new gaming system.
2. Broaden their horizons (and perspective on life)
Depending on life experience and other environmental factors, some find it challenging to accept people and lifestyles that are different from their own. If you never leave home, how can you be expected to thrive in a society that is increasingly diverse?
Travel is a great first step towards opening young minds. It builds empathy and helps bridge the gap between fear and acceptance. Immersing your child in a new experience—for example, attending a cultural festival and exploring new foods—can open them up to an entirely new world; one in which our differences are seen as beautiful, not scary.
3. Experience a sensory vacation
Travel enough and you’ll spend plenty of time in the great outdoors. Whether you’re visiting a zoo or hiking the Appalachians, studies show that being in nature plays a critical role in our physical and cognitive development. The sensory experience—sights, sounds, smells, and textures—will enhance our mood and strengthen self-esteem. Kids who spend significant time in nature tend to be more outgoing and more active in their everyday lives.
For your next family vacation, how about an outdoor adventure? Costa Rica will have your senses going wild with visits to beautiful beaches and lush jungles, a meet and greet with exotic wildlife, and activities for days. Help reduce restlessness with endless opportunities for discovery, creativity, and fun!
4. Seek out adventure close to home
Travel introduces our children to new people, places, and experiences. It’s a great way to get them excited about the world around them, inspiring a lifelong passion for adventure. You don’t have to go far to get started; just be creative about how you explore someplace new.
Immerse yourself in the everyday life of a nearby community—indulge in foods that the locals eat, check out the small businesses that make your destination unique, or take a self-guided tour of the local landmarks. The goal is to awaken your child’s curiosity, so they continue to seek out new adventures.
5. Encourage them to be flexible
Things don’t always go as planned. This is a reality of travel and it’s a reality of life. Planes get delayed, lines are long, and you could end up lost in a foreign city without a translator—it can happen. When your child suddenly realizes Johnny Bear is missing, the last thing you want (or need) is a meltdown in the middle of the airport.
Change is difficult for anyone but, for kids, it’s also frightening and overwhelming. Travel can teach them how to roll with the punches; how to accept when there is nothing to do but adapt. Make change fun instead of scary by showing them how to eat with chopsticks or ask for directions in French. We can teach our children to be more flexible—minimizing their anxiety and ours—by helping them find comfort in their surroundings.
The next time you consider a family trip and you’re flooded with all those mixed emotions, just remember that travel is never wasted on children. Seeing and experiencing the world will only help your kids become stronger, more well-rounded adults. Isn’t that the end game?