When it comes to traveling with children, sometimes it feels like the parenting world is split in two: those who absolutely believe in traveling with their children and those who absolutely don’t. If you find yourself in the latter group or somewhere in the middle, maybe it’s time to reconsider your stance. As an experienced travel parent who has exposed her daughter to 32 countries, I can tell you firsthand that traveling with your children is one of the best decisions you will ever make.
Here are some benefits of traveling with children:
1. Cultural Understanding
Traveling with children teaches them to understand and accept people and things that are different. As they are exposed to cultural differences early in their life, they develop a sense of ease within these settings, and learn to understand and respect what other people and places look like and sound like, connecting with those different to them on a humanitarian level. This understanding of the other can then be applied to all people and places of the world. Suddenly their world looks very different, as they begin to understand these differences more than a child whose cultural understanding is limited to those humans that they come across at the corner park or local ice cream shop.
2. Global View
Traveling with children expands their worldview. Even if the travel is domestic travel, it still teaches the children that other places, people, and ways of life exist. Children who travel know that the world is bigger than library story-hour.
3. Bilingual Skills
Developing bilingual skills from travel is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children. This is the gift of a skill that can be monetized later on in the workplace, but also one that allows for interactions with and understandings of a different culture, which, along with cultural understanding and global viewpoint, fosters confidence, and an intimate membership into the ‘other’ community, leading to friendships, opportunities, and a sense of belonging which would otherwise be off limits.
Traveling with children allows them the opportunity to make more friends in different places and of different backgrounds. And as a child, isn’t the goal to have the most friends?
Traveling with children grants them more opportunities, because they are familiar with more places and people, have a wider network of contacts, and understand that more jobs exist. It develops different abilities that are applied to the workplace, and further illuminates dreams and possibilities.
Traveling is the best education. Wherever you travel to, education is all around. From calculating mileage or converting currency or weighing luggage to nature walks and ocean discoveries, cultural immersion, weather patterns, utilizing social skills, communication skills, history, and geography, there are many educational travel activities kids can enjoy.
7. Personal Growth
Traveling puts you around different people and places, and stretches your comfort zone with the unfamiliar. This leads to personal growth in terms of independence, responsibility, and comfort with foreign surroundings.
8. Global Citizenship & Responsibility
When we see other parts of our state, country, or world, we begin to understand how other places operate, and their needs, challenges, and successes. We see what different places look like in terms of environments and cultures. As we explore and learn and see, we also connect, bond, and begin to develop and assume a sense of moral responsibility and obligation for challenges we see in the world, as collective humans. This changes our perspective on gratitude, materialism, and humanity, and encourages us to think and act for the collective whole, and make a difference in this world, sharing with those who have less, and helping those in need.
Finally, the most important benefit of traveling with children is the ultimate lesson and value that it instills, which is cultivating compassion. The more we see, smell, feel, touch, and taste, the more we understand. And the more we understand, the more we respect. And the more we respect, the more we love. Traveling with children shows them that there are so many different ways to be, look, think, which in turn, if you are doing it right, instill ideals of eternal compassion, for our human race, and for our planet.
Crystal Blue Savante is a cultural anthropologist, international educator, and worldschooler who has traveled the globe with her children.