As my daughter is finishing her first year of college and living away from home; I've been thinking about how travel has affected her life and decisions so far. Growing up in Colorado and living her first 18 years here, she's attending college states away in California. I believe her many travels and seeing so many parts of the world at a young age, made her choice in living hours from home an easier decision. As I had already been working in the industry for years before my daughter was born, she experienced a life filled with travel from an early age.
Travel doesn't necessarily have to be international (but that's great if your kids can experience life outside the States!) to expose children to different environments and cultures. With such a diverse landscape and large size - kids can also learn so much traveling within the States.
Learn Life Skills - There are so many life skills children acquire during travel! Knowing what to expect when going through airport security, reading and navigating with a map, using different currencies (and learning about exchange rates), and using public transportation are all important skills to have.
Increase Confidence and Independence - Your kids will be excited to carry their own backpack at the airport! For older kids - they'll be anxious to explore a ship or hotel on their own. Let children do some of their own packing before your vacation. When my daughter was younger we allowed her the choice to pack whatever she wanted in her carry on bag for the plane. One trip, I'm still not sure how she crammed so many stuff animals into it! It was her little reminder of home. 🙂
Make Lifelong Friendships - One of the best part about travel is the people you meet along the way! It's no different for children, as they usually make friends quicker than adults. 🙂 During a trip to Australia when my daughter was 8, her and another girl were inseparable for the entire two week cruise! To this day, they are friends and keep in touch on social media.
Learn to Sleep Anywhere - When one is traveling and not on the normal routine from home this skill can make traveling so much more enjoyable. This skill seems to be acquired when one is younger. 🙂 When traveling with my daughter she learned to catch a nap in her stroller, at a loud cruise show or in a booth at dinner! To this day she can sleep through anything!
Real World Learning - My daughter received an excellent public school education, but also experienced so much hands on learning during our travels! Even traveling to a different area of the US can expose kids to different lifestyles or trying a food they don't eat at home. Reading about a glacier in a text book is completely different than watching one calve into the ocean!
The World isn't a Scary Place - No matter what age, most kids have seen glimpses of negative news on TV or social media. When you travel with your kids it shows them the majority of the world is not a frightening place! It's a cliche, but they'll learn we really do all smile in the same language. 🙂 They'll learn that overall - people are similar; no matter what their accent, language or skin color is.
Foster Hobbies - Since people are more apt to try new things on a trip, your children will be exposed to new activities! They'll also be able to release their creative juices with journaling about their trip, interviewing other travelers or photographing their travels. During one of our trips my daughter learned how to use the DLSR camera and loved taking photos!
I'd love to hear your experiences about traveling with children! Please feel free to share in the comments. 🙂
Until the next adventure - bon voyage!