Traveling with children can seem like more work than it’s worth. But, there are plenty of practical, real-life lessons and values kids learn from traveling. Here are 9 reasons kids should travel.
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Unfortunately, there is a decline in the number of adults in the United States who are traveling with kids. There are a number of reasons for this.
For one, the cost of travel is continuing to rise, and plane tickets aren’t cheap. But there is also a common misconception that travel is ‘wasted’ on young children. That they won’t remember it or won’t appreciate it enough.
Looking back, I can relate to the latter reason. I didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars to go on vacation with a crying, frustrated child. At the time, it wasn’t worth it.
But, after we took the plunge and went on a week-long trip to Sayulita, Mexico, I now know that the benefits of traveling with kids far outweigh the stressors.
The fulfillment I have from spending that quality time with my children is a feeling that nothing else compares to. But, what’s really important is the benefits it provides to the children.
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9 Benefits of Travelings with Kids
The reasons kids should travel range from it being a fun experience to more practical reasons, like the introduction to new cultures. If you are currently in the mindset that traveling with kids is too hard, read through this post and maybe reconsider.
1). More Flexible with Foods
Especially if your traveling internationally with kids, this is true. When we traveled to Mexico, there were few places to get a cheeseburger and fries. Instead, the kids had to make choices between an array of new menu options.
If you have a picky eater at home, this may seem even scarier. But, children will eat. When their go-to option is on the menu, they will almost always choose that. It’s safety and comfortability. But, when they are forced to choose something new, they often approach it with openness and may even find a new dish they love.
2). More Worldly
This may sound cliche and obvious. But, whether you are traveling to a diverse city in the United States or to a new country, becoming acquainted with new cultures and people is always beneficial.
Raising our children in a small town in Montana, their experience with different cultures, languages, cuisines, and faiths is very limited. Traveling with children allows the opportunity to show and talk to them about diversity.
3). Facing Real-World Obstacles
Whether it be a language barrier or not knowing where you are, travel often provides some difficult obstacles. This may be a small as having to sit in an airport for an extended period of time and feeling uncomfortable. It could also be trying to get somewhere without being able to ask the locals due to language barriers.
Traditional schooling puts children in situations where they have to face obstacles amongst their own peers. But, traveling will force them to use problem-solving skills with people who are different from them.
4). Following Directions
If you have traveled with children, you know that there is often a lot of direction giving. Being in a new part of the world often requires discipline and direction following.
While we were in Sayulita, we did a ton of walking around town. Every day they had to follow directions and be timely.
These lessons will follow them back home where they will have to take directions from teachers, possible employers in high school, and other adults.
5). Being Okay With Being Uncomfortable
Many children in today’s world of advanced technology and boredom-crushers right at their fingertips haven’t experienced being uncomfortable.
I can admit that once my children become uncomfortable in our home, I do whatever I can to ease that. With foods I know they like, streaming services, tablets, cozy blankets, etc.
While it may seem like an unpleasant idea, and maybe not even a benefit at all, it can be. Throughout your child’s life, they will be in uncomfortable situations. Preparing them and guiding them through how to cope in these situations is an experience that they can’t get from books.
When traveling, you will likely spend long layovers in airports, have long flights where they have to be in a seat for an extended period of time, be to subject to weather changes, and even eat foods that may not be their ideal choice.
6). Creative Entertainment
Similar to the previous list item, being stuck on long plane rides, car rides, bus rides, and waiting lines provides children with an opportunity to creatively occupy their time.
We all get bored waiting in security lines or after a couple of hours aboard an international flight. At first, these situations will be uncomfortable for your children as they may not be used to being bored and having to find ways to entertain themselves.
When we flew to Puerto Vallarta, we got caught in a storm and had to land in Mazatlan. Due to customs, we weren’t allowed off the plane and were grounded for close to an hour and a half.
During this time the kids played rock, paper scissors, I Spy, and a couple of other games to keep themselves entertained. And these lessons and situations have followed them home and they are now able to find ways to cure their own boredom instead of relying on someone else to find entertainment for them.
7). Stronger/Closer Family
Traveling with kids makes families stronger and closer. If you are anything like me, you want to do everything you can to keep your kids in your inner circle. You want to ensure that as they grow into teens and young adults that you are still a trusted confidant and friend.
Traveling gives families uninterrupted quality time together. At least when we travel, Chris and I spend very little time working or on our phones. And the kids spend far less time on their iPads or watching TV.
Instead, we are eating all meals together and talking. We are in each other’s company for days at a time with only each to have conversations most of the time.
8). Gaining Independence
Exploring new places and experiencing new cultures has proven to be beneficial in gaining independence and confidence in children. This allows them to be more respectful and accepting in the school setting.
Children who travel are more likely to appear appealing on college applications according to Travel and Leisure.
This is likely due to the independence and confidence they gain while in foreign places. These new places and experiences give children a desire to seek out more, including more about themselves. It will give them new experiences to compare to their home life and find out what they like and don’t like.
9). History, Science, and Humanity
I’ve made a few remarks about how traveling offers a different, and sometimes more valuable education than schools. I want to be clear that I whole-heartedly appreciate our school system and teachers. And I am grateful that my children have the opportunity to go to public school and learn practical information.
But, I believe that traveling has similar benefits. Every trip is an opportunity for children to learn about history and humanity. It’s a chance to learn science and why certain natural features are only found in certain parts of the world. Similarly, they learn about new cultures, their history, and how they live in comparison to us.
And the funny thing about kids is that they don’t have a bunch of preconceived ideas of what should be. They adapt quickly and find out that there are many different people in the world, but that often times even thousands of miles apart, people have similarities.
There was a time when I thought I wouldn’t travel until the kids were older. I was stuck in the idea that it was wasteful, frustrating, and too much work. And in all honesty, the latter two are somewhat true. It can be hard.
There is a lot to remember, more to plan for, and you can’t just go sit at a fancy bar and drink the signature wine all night long. But, from my experience and seeing how traveling has affected my own children, the pros far outweigh the cons.
If you are still hesitant but want to try to travel with kids, start with a smaller domestic trip to test the waters. All trips are beneficial, not just those to far-off lands.