If you suffer from a passion for travel as much as we do, the excitement of exploring different countries, immersing yourself in an unfamiliar culture, and enjoying a new cuisine is the epitome of intoxication. There is nothing that can compare to the feeling of traveling. Add children to the mix, and even the most determined travelers can fall into fear, so much so that they give up on the potential global possibilities of travel. It’s an all too common story. But it doesn’t have to be.
Although there is no doubt that traveling with family is different from traveling with friends. The responsibilities of watching the kids, making minor adjustments to expectations, and making smart adjustments to your itinerary can provide an amazing vacation for the whole family.
Here are our top reasons why your trip with your family can be rewarding and comfortable.
You may be used to a frantic itinerary that includes multiple stops for sightseeing, trips to temples, local markets, museums, and hikes packed into one tedious day. This pace is simply impossible for children and is likely to be a disaster, i.e., a vacation cancellation.
A trip with children (or even the elderly) requires a more relaxed trip that includes planned rest and relaxation time. Just because your itinerary isn’t fast and furious doesn’t mean you’re missing important points. At any rate, a relaxed trip allows you to see and understand more. You and your family will notice more details, you’ll have more time to enjoy the beautiful panoramic views, and you’ll be able to interact more deeply with the people you meet. You’ll also get rid of the need to be constantly on the run to fit an exhaustive schedule. This allows you to be more present in the present moment and setting. Slowness is the key to a deeper, more thoughtful and meaningful journey.
Travel is definitely the number one way to experience cultural diversity. It benefits us all, but it has a particularly lasting and positive effect on young people. Travel takes children away from familiar places and unfolds a carpet of experiences that demonstrate how different life can be in a different place. Witnessing issues, traditions, and lifestyles that are inherently unique to specific countries further reinforces the recognition that differences in life exist around the world. Increased travel to developing countries can contribute to a child’s greater understanding of their own quality of life and other luxuries.
There is also strong evidence that children who actively travel do significantly better academically. According to a study conducted by the Student and Youth Travel Digest (Syta.org), 56% of educators strongly believe that travel has a positive impact on education and careers, and 74% of teachers believe that travel has a lasting and positive impact on children’s personal development.
Taken together, travel experiences help fill your child’s character with a dose of empathy and appreciation, ultimately providing a balanced perspective and approach to his or her world that will last into adulthood.
The world is a classroom, and travel can reveal a comprehensive lesson plan for young people at almost every stage of the trip. Involving your children in the itinerary planning phase so they can identify the places they want to see gives them some responsibility for their travel plans. Your child being tasked with working with their own suitcase packing before the trip and managing their luggage throughout the trip will be useful as a lesson in responsibility and independence. The act of traveling also throws the schedule of routine out the window. Interruptions, hikes, irregular sleeping hours, and time zone changes teach children the need to adapt to ever-changing circumstances.
Travel also provides many other opportunities for children to take on responsible roles. They include watching the clock to make sure the family leaves for the airport or leaves on time for an excursion, acting as the family photographer, helping the family navigate the map with self-guided excursions, or creating a photo album with captions – “We came home from a tour in Uzbekistan”
Children are naturally more inquisitive than adults. For them, the world is full of new stimuli, sounds, colors, tastes, and smells that are a source of wonder and delight. Your children experiencing a smorgasbord of sensations is not only an amazing experience for them, but also a wonderful rekindling of adolescent curiosity for parents.
By lending your child a pair of rose-colored glasses, you open the door to satiating travel with endless opportunities for learning through curiosity, connecting with new people, doing things “just because they’re fun” and each day of travel is pure slate for adventure. Traveling with your young children is the ultimate license to unleash your inner child and build up the fun.
We all live complex and busy lives full of responsibilities, following strict schedules that don’t give many chances to spend time together. Nothing takes the pressure off of school, work, and other responsibilities better than travel.
Taking cooking classes, learning new foods, boating trips, exploring unfamiliar cities, hiking in the mountains, meeting different people, learning about unfamiliar traditions, immersing yourself in a new culture, and discussing these shared experiences will create lifelong memories.
In fact, being on the road can be challenging, and travel is rarely flawless, which happens exactly as planned, and that’s fine! Visiting a museum as planned will always pale in comparison to once your family got lost in the local market, missed dinner reservations, but ended up cooking a home-cooked meal with friendly locals. Participating in mutual problem-solving and facing unexpected family setbacks are often the most cherished family memories.
The journey should not stop just because you now have children. Just as your family expands, so do your travel expectations. Filling your itinerary with a more relaxed pace and adopting a schedule that focuses more deeply on a manageable number of activities will go a long way toward providing a memorable experience. The positive benefits for the children, the lifelong memories for your family, and the joy and networking opportunities provided by travel far outweigh any challenges of traveling with children.