Do you travel as a family? Are you always counting the days until your next adventure?
Or, do you feel overwhelmed and short of breath at the thought of leaving home with the kids for more than a few hours? Perhaps you’re waiting for the children to be a bit older so they will remember the details of your trips? You may even be wondering, “Why do we need a vacation at all?”
No matter where you fall on this spectrum, here are 15 compelling benefits of a family vacation that’ll inspire you and your kids to get out there and start exploring.
1. Cultivate Broader Horizons
Research shows that our views of the world and ourselves are shaped by the personal experiences we encounter throughout life. The more experiences we have, the broader our horizons, the stronger our confidence.
According to Dr. Bruce Lipton, “For the first six years of a child’s life, the conscious part of the brain is not primarily functioning. The brain is functioning at a very low EEG level, called theta. A child is observing the environment just like a television camera, recording everything, bypassing consciousness—which isn’t working yet—and going straight into the subconscious.” He argues that we then replay these experiences throughout our lives. What’s the takeaway? Make them count!
Don’t wait until the kids are older to consider family travel. The lessons they learn during these early (and truly formative) years will be carried for life. How amazing is that?
2. Nurture a Different Perspective
Have you ever watched a toddler experiencing rain for the first time? “WOW,” she says. And “wow” indeed. Is there anything more magical than seeing life through the eyes of a child?
Traveling with children — no matter your destination — is just like seeing rain for the first time, over and over again. It’s about noticing and appreciating the little things around you — often with unbridled enthusiasm — and watching daily actions unfold into something extraordinary. And, best of all, you don’t need to go far to appreciate things from a new perspective.
3. Build Self-Confidence
When we travel with our children, we allow them to see the world firsthand. Family travel also encourages them to develop their observation skills and global perspective. It provides them with the opportunity to see their life experiences with new eyes, gaining a deeper appreciation for their unique accomplishments.
Activities like letting our kids help us pack or find the right gate at the airport allow them to build confidence. Travel also comes with unexpected challenges, and when our kids see us navigate these surprises calmly and creatively, they learn how to be more flexible, too. They also learn how to think outside-of-the-box and develop an intuitive understanding of how the world works. Find out more about how travel nurtures self-esteem.
4. Foster Critical Thinking
Travel helps children of all ages break out of their cultural confines. It helps them see beyond the limited sphere of their existence and recognize the world is a big, beautiful place filled with incredible ecosystems, plants and animals, and human beings with remarkable cultures.
Travel forces kids to develop critical thinking skills, too. It makes them examine their own beliefs and values from the perspective of a different culture. In other words, they become aware of parts of their life and culture that they have taken for granted and have yet to examine.
5. Encourage Slowing Down
We’re too busy, too rushed, too impatient all the time. Travel is the perfect chance to slow down. You will most likely have no other choice when globetrotting with young ones. Those little legs can only go so fast. So why not make it a conscious decision to explore the world at your kids’ pace?
Pole pole. In Swahili, this means, “slowly, slowly.” Embrace this mantra and make it your reality while traveling with kids, adapting to their rhythm, fully enjoying their company, and savoring new discoveries as a family.
6. Connect with Locals
Do you know what happens when we bring the kids along? True and authentic cultural immersion. We are likely to find the nearest market, the best bakery, the next open pharmacy. Before we know it, our routine becomes that of a typical local family.
Kids are also the best ambassadors. A fast-track ticket to being accepted by the local tribe.
Since kids are naturally open, curious, and inquisitive, just follow their lead, and you’ll have a better chance of connecting with the people and culture around you during family travel.
7. Cultivate Empathy, Respect, and Compassion
We can (and should) talk about empathy, respect, and compassion to our kids. However, these values are truly absorbed when practiced.
Traveling provides families with the opportunity to venture out of our comfort zone, witnessing different realities. And by immersing ourselves in unfamiliar customs and cultures, experiencing these differences first-hand, we get our kids (and ourselves) to think about others more compassionately. When it’s all said and done, cultivating empathy, respect, and compassion remain among the most far-reaching benefits of family holidays.
8. Learn and Grow Together
Perhaps parenthood’s first and most humbling lesson is that we’re in this to learn as much (or more) as we’re in it to teach. Traveling is the ultimate celebration of that realization and quite possibly the best form of teaching. A tribute to the beauty of growing together with our loved ones.
The best gift we can give to our families, traveling, holds something unique and thrilling for everyone: a new friend, an exciting dish, a glorious landscape, an extraordinary monument.
9. Spend Quality Time as a Family
Our time is limited. Period. There’s nothing we can do to change that. But, how we spend that time is completely up to us. It is our choice whether we decide to spend our summers in front of a screen or sharing meaningful experiences with our families.
Traveling is a wonderful bonding experience. It’s about building a stronger connection with our children, exposing them to infinite possibilities and watching them discover their preferences and personalities as they interact with the world.
10. Build Incredible Memories
Your kids might not remember the details of your first family trip but, guess what, you will. And, truth be told, they might not remember the specifics, but they don’t forget the feelings, sensations, and impact of discoveries. (Remember #1?)
Perhaps our kids won’t know if they visited China, Germany, or the Amazon when they were little. But they will never forget the sheer joy of exploring a new playground, the thrill of reaching the top of a mountain, or the pleasure of selflessly caring for others.
11. Jumpstart a Digital Detox
I think you’ll agree that we’re in the midst of an electronics overload. What’s more, the latest research suggests that exposure to electronics impacts the ability of kids to read emotional and social cues. This can make kids feel misunderstood and frustrated when participating in face-to-face communications.
Fortunately, a digital detox can do wonders for the development of non-verbal communication skills. It also helps with attention span and focus. Of course, if you’re like many parents, you’re probably not looking forward to the fallout from announcing “no electronics” to your kids. That’s where a family vacation can come in handy. Not only will it get your kids off their screens, but if you opt for an unplugged adventure, you can jumpstart a digital detox in an environment guaranteed to keep them captivated.
I know what you’re thinking. What about the plane flights? Fortunately, we’ve got plenty of tips for how to entertain kids on a plane without electronics. And, I promise, they work!
12. Spark Curiosity for the World
Few activities spark a child’s interest in geography, history, and other cultures quite like travel. It also helps them to develop a better understanding of how big the world is and opens their minds to endless possibilities.
Travel helps kids to perceive trying new things as an adventure rather than as something to be feared or avoided. It will ramp up their interest in knowing more about the world and the vibrant animals, plants, and people who call it “home.”
13. Establish a Greater Sense of Trust
What’s one of the most important ingredients when it comes to establishing healthy family bonds? A deep sense of trust. By taking you and your family outside of your collective comfort zones, travel teaches you to trust one another and rely on each other.
It also provides you with new insights into each other. For example, parents learn new and wonderful things about their children’s characters and particular interests and aptitude. And by spending quality time and exploring alongside your kids, they learn that you have their deepest interests at heart. These are profound lessons that will reinforce your family dynamic long after the vacation is over.
14. Learn in the Best Classroom
No classroom offers more profound and vibrant lessons than that of the world. Research supports the fact that incredible learning opportunities happen while traveling. And because the world allows for a heavy dose of experimentation, the lessons it teaches prove transformative for kids and adults alike.
Perhaps no one has said it better than Keith Bellows, award-winning editor-in-chief of National Geographic Traveler: “Learning happens between the poles, not just between the ears.”
15. Raise Global Citizens
The world needs good global citizens. By traveling with our families, we can raise kids who embrace our differences, are compassionate toward others, and are as aware of the big picture as they are of themselves.
Travel lets our kids see that human beings share far more similarities than differences. It also makes children of all ages inherently aware of what unites all human beings. It teaches them that we are all fundamentally the same despite variations in hair color and texture, eye color, and skin color.
Benefits of a Family Vacation
Whether you and your family take regular vacations or you have yet to start, we hope these 15 benefits of a family vacation will encourage you to take the plunge. These are also great arguments to have in your back pocket the next time anyone questions your sanity (especially when it comes to traveling with small children). Or, this list can serve as a simple reminder about why family travel’s worth all of the effort.
And while you’re at it, be sure to grab our free guide for creative travel ideas, broken down by age:
At Our Whole Village, we create transformational trips for curious families who want to create lasting memories while making a difference. We’re here to help you and your family experience the world, its people, and its cultures. Contact us today to learn more about the unforgettable experiences that we handcraft for adventure-seeking families just like yours.
Ready for more family trip ideas? Check out our series on traveling with kids:
No two families are alike. So, why do so many family vacation packages and tours look the same? At Our Whole Village, we think vacation opportunities should be just as varied and creative as the families who take them! Here’s how you can find the best fit for your family’s unique interests and needs.
From packing the right gear to taking full advantage of your mode of transportation, these family travel tips make traveling with kids a success rather than a stress. Sure, unexpected challenges will still show up along the way. But armed with these tips, you’ll also have plenty of aces in the hole.
Enjoying a family vacation to the max starts with planning for both the expected and unexpected as well as making space for the delightful moments. These tips will help you conquer travel challenges, savor each moment, and then relive the magic well after you’ve returned from your destination.