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?
No matter where you fall on this spectrum, here are nine powerful reasons why you should travel with your kids. If you haven’t started yet, we hope these will encourage you to take the plunge. And if you already do, then these are great arguments to have in your back pocket the next time anyone questions your sanity. Or they can just serve as simple reminders to yourself on why it’s all an effort worth making.
1. We Are What We Experience
Research shows that our views of the world and of ourselves are shaped by the personal experiences we encounter throughout life. The more experiences we have, the broader our horizons, the stronger our confidence.
In the words of cell biologist Dr. Bruce Lipton, “our first 6 years we are actually not engaging in consciousness, we are just downloading experiences.” He continues to say that we then basically replay these experiences throughout our lives. In other words, make them count!
Don’t wait until the kids are older to start traveling. The lessons they learn during these early (and truly formative) years will be carried for life. How amazing is that?
2. A Different Perspective
Have you watched that video of 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 kids – no matter your destination – is just like seeing that 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. Slow Down
We’re too busy, too rushed, too impatient all the time. Travel is the perfect chance to slow down. In fact, 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, sharing new discoveries as a family.
4. Connect with the 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. And, these days, chances are that we’ll be renting an apartment — so, 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.
5. Nurture 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 our 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 in a more compassionate way.
6. 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 education. 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.7. 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.
8. 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 do not forget the feelings, the sensations and impact of new 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 joy of exploring a new playground, the thrill of reaching the top of a mountain, or the pleasure of selflessly caring for others.
9. Raise Global Citizens
Last, but not least, 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.