When it comes to travel internationally with kids, there’s plenty of advice floating around. And some of it isn’t very positive. As you plan your first trip abroad with kids, don’t be surprised when people start asking why you’re squandering your hard-earned money. Especially if your kids are preschool-aged. People will protest that they’re too young to make memories, hence a waste of your time and resources. They may also suggest that your little ones will ruin your vacation. Or, that they’ll constrain you from doing the things you really want to do.
And to a degree, all of these things are true. Nevertheless, the advantages of international travel with kids still far exceed all of these detractors, and here’s why.
Negotiating Parenthood and Travel
Travel with children is a lot like parenthood. It involves plenty of negotiating. Instead of sipping sake at a hidden gem of a bar in Tokyo, you’re more likely to find yourself navigating crowded sidewalks with a stroller in search of a local park with a playground. Or, explaining to your kids why the frogs and insects they just caught can’t fly home on the plane.
While we endorse taking kids to wine tastings at vineyards and even offer tips for how to make it work, it will inevitably be a different experience than a couples-only wine event. And one that likely includes Sippee cups, coloring books, and stuffed animals. In other words, it’s a delicate negotiation between the needs of your children and what you’d like to experience.
Nonetheless, these negotiations can lead to spontaneous and brilliant experiences that you would never have enjoyed without your children. For one, locals often open up to children in ways that they might not with adults. Just try walking through a Moroccan bazaar with kids and see how many new people you meet! In essence, kids represent the ultimate icebreaker. And aren’t these quirky, unexpected travel moments the ones that stick with us the longest?
What’s more, if you travel with a partner, you’ll have times when you can leave your little one with them back at the hotel. Then, you can head out on your own for a unique thrill or destination that may not be particularly kid-friendly such as a yoga class in India or that cup of sake at the off-the-beaten-path bar.
Seeing the World Through Your Children’s Eyes
The very act of traveling fills us with awe. Isn’t this part of the euphoria we ultimately chase as travelers? But when we bring the kids along, our travels get an extra dose of wonder. We get to experience the world through their eyes. And kids are masters of living in the moment and appreciating the small things that we too often take for granted.
Children also force us to travel more slowly, and this is a good thing. After all, great travel is about more than putting a mark by every country and monument on a predetermined travel checklist.
Slow travel can lead to experiential travel allowing us to become more fully immersed in the essence of a place, its culture, its history, its environment, and its people. This means a more authentic, transformative journey filled with the types of meaningful interactions that make for cherished memories.
Nurturing Important Values
Travel helps kids connect with locals. Since kids prove naturally curious and open, they represent the ultimate ambassadors to the world, which means they can also help you connect with the people and culture around you. This means richer, more authentic travels from a different point of view.
Travel also helps kids broaden their horizons, cultivate confidence, and foster empathy for others. By immersing ourselves in unfamiliar situations, we experience differences firsthand. And this leads to greater empathy and compassion for others. It also teaches kids that no matter the culture, religion, or location, we are all fundamentally more similar than different. The more places you visit, the more your kids will realize that we, as humans, have a lot in common.
Travel also teaches kids patience and kindness. Let’s face it, no trip happens without a challenge or two. Whether it’s a delayed flight or a rainy day, travel helps kids learn how to make the best of any situation. Here are more compelling reasons to travel with kids.
Delayed Gratitude and Travel with Teens
Of course, there’s a caveat to all of this. If you have teens, you may not want to see the world through their eyes.
After all, some teenagers are known for an inherent lack of enthusiasm and a bad attitude. This gets frustrating when you’re in the midst of a family vacation that you would’ve given an arm and a leg for at their age. (Although, honestly, would you have? Really? Remember, you were a teen then, too.)
Fortunately, there are plenty of tips out there to ease the stress of traveling with teens. Finding the right destinations for teens can also change the dynamic of a family trip for the better. And no matter what they may say now, one day your teen will look back fondly on these vacations. It’s all about delayed gratitude.
Why Travel Internationally with Kids
The process of travel comes with powerful lessons that our kids need. Of course, these lessons prove different depending on the age of our children. Travel teaches kids about saving and budgeting money before a trip. Heading overseas on a vacation will also help them become more responsible, independent people. It’ll give them an invaluable sense of confidence and knowledge of the world.
When it’s all said and done, it’s hard to quantify how travel internationally with kids will affect them over the long haul. It could even spark a lifelong passion or future vocation. But here’s what I do know. Experiencing new cultures and destinations will help them hone their problem-solving skills, develop empathy, and expand their worldview.
At Our Whole Village, we craft 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 curious families just like yours.