Getting kids away from their screens and outside is a constant battle for parents, but an important one that we must all continue to fight. Taking kids outside of their neighborhood and exposing them to the greater world around them might be even more important.
I may not have boarded an airplane until I was in college, but my parents had already placed a deep seeded love of seeing new places in my soul.
Family vacations for us meant loading up the car and driving to a National Park or campsite near some sort of attraction. We’d camp out, enjoy food cooked over a camp stove and spend hours in front of a campfire listening to the world around us.
While we were not on grand expeditions to the far corners of the globe, it taught me how people everywhere are the same even with our beautiful differences. It taught me about the simple things in life and how to find inspiration wherever I was.
Now that I have children of my own, I want to make sure I pass these values on and I know how important traveling will be to that. Here are my reasons why I believe traveling with your children is important.
It Teaches Them the World is More Same Than Different
If kids only see the world around them through an electronic screen they’re getting a very jaded view of the world.
Exposing them to different cultures, religions and locations makes them learn that at the end of the day people are people, kids are kids. Everyone is trying to raise their kids as best they can, kids love to goof off with other kids and grandparents always have a smile ready. None of this is dependent on where in the world they were born.
The more places they visit, the more they’ll realize humans as a species have a lot in common.
Food Becomes an Adventure
Every home cook only has so many recipes that they can cycle through during a given week. Balancing that with lacrosse practice, dance rehearsal and homework makes trying new food harder than it should be.
When we travel, our family has a rule that we can’t go to any restaurant that we have at home. The kids are encouraged to try new things and we’ve always had the rule that they have to at least try anything we give them.
They’ll quickly realize that what might look strange on their plate actually tastes amazing. The more new foods they try, the more excited they’ll become about going out to different restaurants at home instead of the same old pizza joint or fast food joint.
Lead by example and order things you might not be sure of either. You can rarely go wrong when you ask a server, “What is the most popular item people come here for?”
They Learn Patience and Kindness
Traveling is never as glamorous as people think. Missed connections, hotel rooms not being ready and lost cab drivers stress us all out.
Exposing your kids to the variety of things that go wrong on a trip is good for them. They’ll learn that in life you have to sometimes roll with the punches and make the most of a bad situation.
Sure, going through them might not be fun, but years later they’ll look back and laugh about those two days stuck in a hotel room with no clothes since the luggage went on the flight even though the family didn’t. True story!
Plus, depending on where you travel, seeing how other people live will teach them to value what they have. After all, if you can afford to fly around the world to any destination, you’re better off than many people you might encounter.
Having a World View Will Help Their Careers
No matter what your children grow up to be, they’ll be working in a global marketplace, working with people from different countries and backgrounds than their own.
Encourage them to talk to people when traveling. Expose them to local customs of every sort. Expand their minds to embrace differences rather than shunning them. Don’t shy away from their questions and have them ask them to the people they meet.
That way when they arrive at college or enter the office for the first time, they won’t have to add culture shock to the list of other things that they’ll be dealing with during this time.
Traveling is Quality Family Time
Sure, they’ll be on their tablet or phone the whole plane ride or car ride to your destination, but it’s hard to beat the quality of the time you spend together when traveling.
Walking around a new city or town together, sitting down around a new table and hearing the sounds of new accents is all better when done surrounded by those you love. We encourage our kids to keep a travel journal because what they notice and remember is always different than what we might see. Likewise, make sure they have a camera that they take lots of photos with. You’ll be amazed what catches their eye.
At the end of every day, take the time to share your favorite moments with each other. When you return home make a photo book from everyone’s snapshots to never forget the great time you had.
Everyday the world is getting closer together and seeing it more possible. Instead of wasting your summer away this year, why not jump in a car, boat or plane and visit someplace new. Your family and you will love it!